Follow the Fear September 24 2020

Follow the Fear


This is some of the best advice I ever received.  I am not talking about the fear around life threatening situations, but the healthy fear or hesitation around things that challenge you, your beliefs, habits, or practices.  I have actually begun to develop a new hobby that has me practicing this on a regular basis, mountain biking.  For anyone who knows me well, they know that I have had a strong distaste for this sport for YEARS.  I have had less than a handful of experiences on single track over the past 15 years and one of them ended in a panic attack, the other in such obvious trepidation that we almost immediately turned around.  Fear.  I had and still have real fear around crashing, falling, injuring myself, landing on a bed of boulders, falling over on a trail with an exposed edge and tumbling down a bottomless ravine.  How did I get over this fear?  Gradually.  I have spent the past two years riding road and gravel getting comfortable on a bike.  That combined with the following has allowed me to not only try the sport again but develop a love for it. 


  1. Watching models.

Not only was I riding road and gravel consistently, but I began to watch videos with Goeff of mountain bikers.  It is all fine and good to watch pros do their thing, but I also was exposed to @karabealmtb girlfriend of pro @tomcardymtb who chronicled her mountain biking journey literally from zero to now doing black downhills (those are the hard ones) in roughly a year.  Watching her progress has been completely inspiring.  Seeing her do that, I knew I could do it. 

  1. Slow and steady wins the race.

I have taken it VERY slow and been very forgiving with myself.  I do only the trails I am comfortable with and get off at any part that I am not ready for. 

  1. Sessioning skills.

I went to Spider Mountain downhill park on our fourth ride.  What that is for those of you who don’t know is a park in which you take a lift to the top of a mountain (mini Texas size mountain) and ride your bike downhill on trails of varying difficulty.  I thought I could do the easy trails.  Instead of a barrel of laughs I had a MAJOR meltdown.  I did not know how to corner.  At all.  I completely freaked out trying to navigate steep switchbacks because I knew I had trouble just turning around on the street. Post meltdown and after a few inspiring and helpful podcasts about women mountain biking, I learned that I needed to session the skill of cornering in a controlled environment.  Taking the risk out and practicing the skill in isolation would allow for a safer experience, build confidence, and hopefully for me to the transfer the skill to the trails.  

  1. Informing yourself.

Podcasts, Youtube tutorials, and articles have helped me develop my knowledge, skills and technique much faster.  I was experiencing some back pain and figured out it was body position from a podcast.  I needed to learn to corner so I watched Youtube demos.  I am working on small jumps now and Youtube has been very helpful in learning the proper form and approach to these.  Learn learn learn. 

  1. Time on the bike, aka practicing.

Great quote from @jimkwik, expert on learning and brain science, practice makes progress.  If I am going to get better on the bike, I have to spend time on the bike.  I spend time during the week on skills, weekends are for long rides to build comfort, endurance and ability. 


I still have fear, almost every time I approach a new trail or feature there is fear of what lies ahead.  But once I spend a little time on the bike and start to get comfortable in that space applying all the things I have learned, I start to have fun, and dare I say “shred” the trails.  The crazy thing is that within this fear, if I am truthful with myself, lay something I really wanted – the person I wanted to become.  How many times does fear hide just this?  The ability to become someone even more awesome, strong and brave.  This experience has not only launched me into a new sense of self but helped me build a tremendous amount of confidence.  If I can face this shit, I can do anything.


I hope this is helpful, I cannot tell you how much value this new activity and process has brought to my life.  What fears are you facing?  You guys want to see some video of me shredding?  Let me know in the comments!!!