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Overcoming Challenges and Facing Your Fears

I love time trialing. I love the pain in my legs, the speed of my bike and the feel of the road flying away beneath my wheels. Conversely, as much as I love time trials I hate being held at the start of them equally as much. It scares me. I have this intense feeling that I am going to be dropped by the holder and wind up falling over onto the hard pavement. For those of you who don’t know, when you start a time trial, you clip both feet into the pedals and someone holds you upright until you start. The sheer thought of it makes my heart rate start to rise and my palms begin to sweat. When I have tried to practice held starts in the past I panicked, became completely irrational and gave up. I have never seen anyone dropped by the holder. It’s silly, I know it. Everyone who races time trials does it, so what is my issue?

Me at the start of a time trial, not being held, as usual.

Me at the start of a time trial, not being held, as usual.

We all have fears, big or small that we need to overcome to help us progress in our athletic endeavors. I have spoken with many people who want to compete in triathlons but are afraid of the open water swim, or people who want to join group rides, but are afraid of riding in the middle of a pack of cyclists. No matter what your fear is, now is the time to conquer it. Most of these fears come from lack of experience. In order to shed your fear of open water swimming you have to get out into the open water. If you want to work on your group riding skills you need to actually ride with a group of people at some point.

Spring is just days away and its time to get back outside and get ready for the racing, and riding season. No matter what your fears are, pick at least one and make the decision to conquer it. Ask for help. Talk to other athletes about it as they may have gone through some of the same experiences and they can tell you how they overcame their fears. Most importantly you need to mentally make the decision that you are not going to be defeated by fear. You need to tell yourself that you can conquer this and chances are you most certainly can.

As for my fear, after time trialing for three years without really making a legitimate attempt at being held, I had decided that this is the year I would take the plunge. Earlier this week I decided to give it another shot. The first day I attempted being held I went through the same panic I had in the past. I felt like the bike was leaning to one side or another and I was convinced the only way it would end would be with my bike and body lying on the pavement. Yesterday I pulled out my time trial bike, wanting to give it another shot. I started with a bit of panic, but slowly I clipped one foot in and then the other and I was still upright! A few seconds later I started to pedal and I was off on my ride, still upright, no contact with the pavement except from the rubber of my tire. This morning I was successful again with slightly less fear than I had the day before. I still need more practice to really eliminate my apprehension completely, but a couple of successful attempts have shown me that maybe the challenge was not insurmountable after all.