Cycling Fears and Anxieties

Cycling Fears and Anxieties

Fear is an immense barrier when it comes to cycling and is the reason a lot of people refuse to get on their bikes. It also doesn’t help that we live in a society ruled by fear, where the media bombards us with stories focused on wars, crimes and accidents. We fear health warnings, authority and people with different beliefs. We live in a world where politicians and marketers use fear for their own agenda. It keeps us from our deepest desires yet fears are nothing but perceived threats that continuously play upon our emotions while our personal experiences compounded with the influence of the media and people around us, causes us to over-think, get overwhelmed and let our fears and anxieties overcome us. Thus we end up sitting at home, paralyzed with fear.

What a shame, when there are so many great things you can do such as go for a bike ride.

If you suffer from cycling fears and anxieties, it is most likely a deeper issue unrelated to cycling. From my personal experience, I was never actually scared of riding my bike but after getting to the roots, I realized they were results of wanting to avoid certain emotions evoked from past memories and over-thinking (what is this were to happen? what if that were to happen?).

Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out. @ Big Wave Beach in Hong Kong

I still suffer from certain anxieties before a ride but I overcome them by reminding myself that once I’m out on the road, these anxieties usually disappear instantly. Other times I force myself to quit thinking and just do it. You can’t tackle all the issues at once but being aware, identifying trigger points and committing to a solution while staying persistent in your goals will get you miles ahead in your journey.

Here are some cycling fears and anxieties that I have or had:

Traffic.

Sharing a road with thousand-pound cars can be nerve-wracking … especially when you are at home thinking about it. After years of riding, I realized that while I’m riding on the road, those fears don’t exist— it was the over-thinking leading up to it that was the barrier and after that insight, my fear of traffic has completely disappeared. I now have complete confidence on the road (but not in a dangerously arrogant manner).

Not knowing where to ride.

Most forward-thinking cities are constantly improving their cycling infrastructure which covers the physical aspect of the fear but some of us still need to overcome the emotional fear. I still don’t always venture out to new areas by myself because I am stereo-typically terrible with directions but luckily I have some awesome friends that I can discover new routes with. Once I ride a route once or twice, I’ll have it memorized and can comfortably ride it myself. Again, I use to over-think and fear getting lost but I just kept on doing solo rides and realized that I always recognize landmarks while I’m riding. All that over-thinking was just wasting my time and holding me back. I mean, we have Google Maps and GPS navigation these days. It’s impossible to get lost. But still… working on this one.

Getting a flat tire.

I always perfectly knew how to change a tube but I never really had to do it until my 4th year of riding (super lucky or there were just boys around) and now that I’ve changed a few tubes in my lifetime, I’m pretty confident. I no longer get anxious about getting flats but I know I will get annoyed so I take precautions such as always checking my tire pressure before a ride and looking out for sharp objects. It still takes me forever though only because I have weak arms. This issue has gone away but I better get to those bicep curls!!

Unpredictable weather.

Riding in fall/winter use to get me really anxious because memories of super freezing rides are forever ingrained into my mind, even when I know the suffering is only for the first 15 minutes. The way I overcame this was by experience. Keep riding in all elements so you know what to wear and how your body responds to different temperatures, take notes and overtime, you will naturally develop confidence, since being prepared makes cycling a lot less worrisome. I’ve always advocated cycling in the cold so you shouldn’t ever let anything hold you back. It would be such a shame!

Clipless pedals.

I love my pedals but I still get anxious when I know I’m going to be stopped at an incline because I still can’t gracefully clip-in on hills. I’ve done it many times successfully but the fear of falling from a childhood trauma still gets to me. At least, I’m aware and I’m working on it!

Lycra

…Or as people assume: spandex (but it’s really lycra!). I am only joking about this one (since I think I look pretty good in lycra — harharhar) and although there is no written rule that one must wear lycra while cycling, some won’t even hear of it because they think it will make them look ridiculous! Well, some may if aren’t at their fittest (although who am I to judge and why should you care)… but at the same time, you can use that as motivation to get into shape because fit people look pretty fucking good in lycra.

On the contrary…

While writing this entry, I came across many forums and articles providing evidence that one of the best ways to overcome anxiety is exercise. So do you want to overcome your cycling fears and anxieties? Stop over-thinking, dust off your bike and just do it!

If only we all had a “just do it” mentality which for me personally, were results of living a health-conscious lifestyle— it changed my life and most importantly, my mindset. Whether you lift weights, run or cycle, fitness develops mental toughness, confidence, discipline and self-awareness and this changes your perspective on the world and how your mind process events.

Don’t let your fears prevent you from doing something as joyful as riding a bike!

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    More Reasons to Love Cycling

    More Reasons to Love Cycling

    I love cycling and the reasons are endless! Here are a few more feel-good moments on the bike:

    • When the skies suddenly open up and the sun comes out of hiding, on what was forecasted to be a cloudy day.
    • When you get to a light that turns green right before you are about to clip out of your pedals.
    • Long solo rides. The introvert in me appreciates them so much.
    • Small group rides or with a good friend. Random chit chats and observations of every day life can be so much fun… but not too much fun when you are trying to carry on a conversation while going up at 20% grade hill.
    • Mental toughness. It will help you in every aspect of life.
    Cycling Selfie | I Fucking Love Fitness

    When you are taking a selfie on the side of the road and a cyclist stops and offers to take a photo for you! I learned that while traveling around Europe last year— take a ton of selfies until someone offers (for those who lacks a selfie-stick). Harharhar.

    • Seeing the thousands of calories you burnt after your ride. I still get amazed by how much is burnt and can be eaten back after a single ride (the hard part)! Cycling is the perfect sport for those with piggy-problems a.ka. moi.
    • Shooting pure organic raw honey from a flask to power up those hills on the super long, epic summer rides. That’s the only excuse I have to consume something so delicious.
    • A guilt-free slurpee or carton of chocolate milk mid-ride on a sweltering hot summer day. OMIGAWDDD.
    • Going to bed excited because you know you’ll be out and about on your bike in the morning.
    • Jumping out of bed at 5am knowing you never regret a morning ride.
    • Cruising by traffic jams during rush hour.
    • Seeing so many fellow cyclists riding in below freezing temperatures, in the rain, in the fog, in the evenings… everyone complains that the bike lanes are empty 9 months out of the year in Vancouver but they are all liars.
    • Getting to bypass the vehicles and even the pedestrians at the Canadian border. No questions asked when you come back even when they see all the new goodies stuffed into your jersey pockets when we pick up our packages at our US mailbox at Point Roberts. You have no idea how much can fit into jersey pockets!!
    • When you stop and take in those sweeping panoramic views. I make more of an effort to do this now because I always feel so blessed when I’m out riding. Sometimes that feeling is extremely overwhelming— in a good way and makes you feel grateful for everything you have.
    • Catching a sunrise or a sunset on your bike. You can never get sick of them.
    • The undeniable feeling of being so free.

    That unexplainable feeling you get when out on your bike… oh wait, I think it’s called happiness.

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      Steps for a Healthy Heart

      Steps for a Healthy Heart

      Happy February! Yes, I’ve been bad and totally stopped blogging but I’m back because February is Healthy Heart Month and Staples sent me a Jawbone UP24 to track my fitness and keep me motivated to keep my heart healthy and happy. I’ve never felt the need to use fitness trackers but I will write a review later after using it for a longer period of time. Right now, all I can say is that I LOVE the sleep tracker!

      Jawbone U24

      Can you find my Jawbone? it’s not exactly the prettiest device in the world but it’s accurate and does the job.

      Being active doesn’t only mean spending hours at the gym but integrating fitness into your life so it comes naturally and becomes enjoyable.

      I wake up every day looking forward to doing something active. I ride my bike to work 2-3 times per week but when the weather is absolutely hideous, I take public transit, which I now appreciate more than ever, because I don’t have to worry about anything (unlike driving or cycling)— that’s my downtime and I get to read or listen to music and be completely stress-free. I live in downtown Vancouver so when I meet my friends for dinner, sometimes I will walk 20-30 minutes (in heels) to the other corner of downtown because I LOVE walking (even when it’s raining!). Whenever I go on vacation, I always walk every opportunity I get and no matter how much I pig out (eg. unlimited pasties in Paris every-fucking-day), I’ve never gained any weight. The number of steps you take daily adds up and will make a difference in your health over time (hence, the use for fitness trackers with step counters like the Jawbone UP24).

      My current routine:

      • Cycling: I went on a bike diet while I was travelling from October to December but jumped right back onto my bike as soon as I was settled back into life in Vancouver. Unfortunately, I’m doing the same intensity and distance as I was doing earlier (just a lot slower and with a higher heart rate) and my muscles are not thanking me for that… but I’ve been committed to stretching and foam-rolling. Don’t want to be dealing with injuries later on!
      • I have a pretty easy cycling goal of 100km/week which should be covered by 2-3 commutes to work and a few morning rides before work and my one long weekend ride usually brings up my total to at least 150. As of right now, I’ve sacrificed one weekend day to be my “stay-at-home-and-get-shit-done” days a.k.a. no riding. But that will change when we get more sunny days. ;)
      • Gym: I’m only focused on lifting weights. I rarely do any circuit training anymore since I get way too much cardio on the bike… although I still sometimes hop on the elliptical for therapeutic means because I can blast my music and zone out. It’s a great way to escape your desk and relieve stress in the middle of a workday.
      • Food: Eating like a beast and not going to change!! I’m still eating the same amount (if not more) as I was in the summer when I was doing 3-500km/week but I think we all need some insulation in the winter. I’ve also been consuming a lot of alcohol and going out for dinner almost every night but I’m still eating healthy during the day. Balance is the key and calories will be burnt easily as soon as miles start racking up!
      • Sleep: The Jawbone has shown me how terrible my sleeping patterns are but in the past few months, I’ve been really making an effort to getting to bed early… and also waking up early. I’ve never been a morning person unless I have a reason to (morning workouts) but I actually trained myself to wake up at 6am, have a coffee, relax, stretch and read before heading to work which starts at 10am. Even when I have no ride or morning workouts planned. I seriously never thought the day would come but it has. Dundundun!!
      • Mentally: I’ve never been more happier, at peace and intrinsically motivated. I’ve also discovered tons of new interests which obviously does not help with my lack of time but you will always find a way when you make it a priority.

      ifuckinglovefitness.com

      Simple reminders for a healthy heart:

      • Exercise as often as you can. Find something you enjoy and just do it!
      • Eat real and eat well. But don’t forget to practice moderation unless you want to drive yourself crazy.
      • Eliminate stress. Take time off. Treat yourself to a massage or cancel party plans with no guilt so you can get some down time for yourself.
      • Explore your soul. Pursuit wisdom and never stop being curious about life. Think more. Discover new philosophies and be open-minded towards new beliefs, institutions, outlooks and conventions. Accept the fluidity of existence. Be more mindful. Strive for enlightenment… but at the same time, don’t let it overcome you.

      It’s important to remember that having a healthy heart does not mean just diet and exercise— chronic stress puts your heart at risk as well so remember to slow down once in a while. Have you been taking care of your heart?

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