Fear is such a personal thing. I have no quarrel with rodents, bats or spiders, but show me a giant waterbug and I’m toast. Speaking in public? No problem. Addressing a delicate issue with a close friend? My knees turn to jelly.
I’ve been struggling with a minor, but potent, bugaboo: the ramp leading into Riverside Park from 74th St. A bit steep, it’s spanned by two huge utility plates that were sloppily sealed with asphalt and turn slippery when wet. I’ve fallen here three times: once when Maggie’s front tire struck a rock; the second during a light rain; the third because I was so nervous about falling that I tensed up and lost control. None of the falls did more than bruise me badly and knock the wind out of me, but I decided the scary ramp was my enemy and had to be avoided.
For a short while, I rode down Riverside Drive to another ramp on which cycling is forbidden, so walking down involved no shame. One day this entrance was closed for construction, and I had to detour onto a busy avenue. I was hugging the right side of the road when a cab zoomed past me, clipping me so hard its mirror broke off. Over I went, but (again) I was able to get up and walk away. I’m getting quite good at falling! But I’d rather get good at NOT falling.
My next ramp-avoidance strategy: Instead of shuffling down it feeling old and timid, I picked up Maggie and sprinted down a nearby flight of stairs. A little extra upper body workout is good! But the damned ramp still bugged me, because I was giving in to fear.
I’m more confident in the saddle lately, thanks to some minor adjustments, and this morning I gritted my teeth and went down the ramp. I didn’t fall. I didn’t clutch. All went well.
This post is my self-administered pat on the back for a show of courage. A small one, but it made a difference to me.