Editor's note: NUVO is celebrating all things bikes this week, including revisiting some classic posts like this excerpt from Katelyn Coyne's bicycle diaries series, originally published in July of 2013. Find all our new cycling-related goodies here.
Releasing fear has been a theme of my bicycle experience.
I've let go of the fear of looking oversized on my bicycle's slender frame, the fear of helmet hair, the fear of traffic and cars, fear of sweating, fear of losing balance, fear of looking like a klutz and more. Some fears went the way of my learning coping strategies. For instance, I've learned to carry a brush and stash a spare deodorant in my work desk to combat helmet hair and sweaty underarms. Others more slowly evaporated.
My fear of biking in traffic melted away with practice and gaining a sense of the road. I know the traffic rhythms throughout my neighborhood and at various times of the day. I plan my route accordingly. I know when to speed up or slow down to catch or miss a light. I know when to take the lane and when to make room for others to pass. I set an effective pace as I hop from road to trail and back again.
The fear of cars on the road is, I think, a good fear. It can be managed but also keeps me alert and safe. While some drivers are unpredictable, many more drivers see me (and all cyclists on the roads) as unpredictable. Whether this is a fair assumption or not depends entirely on the cyclist (and the driver). However, this fear of unknown behavior on both ends drives a continued apprehension about sharing the road. I've learned to be mindful of my surroundings. And in doing so, I'm able to better predict which cars will share with me and which will not.
I relinquished my fear showing a lack of coordination after much practice as well. I've learned the subtleties of my bicycle and how to manipulate the mechanisms most efficiently. Not to sound overly Zen, but I really have become one with my bike. I find a rhythm on my way to work each morning as I twist and turn through downtown streets and trails. I feel the bike as a true extension of my body allowing me to make the most of my own energy output as well.
My balance and coordination are actually at a new high, a fact a credit to bicycling. I've even begun to master the "look-mom-no-hands" riding that I've seen cyclists in Lycra suits perfect as they take swigs from their Camelbacks. And while I still have a moment of fearfulness in the moment before I grab back onto the handlebars, I'm able to delay that moment longer each time.
With each fleeting fear a new boundary is broken. I find a new sense of pride and accomplishment. And I begin to look for new challenges and to discover new fears to push past.