Bacon Betty Rides Again

30 05 2011

I feel like I’ve written that title before…

Maybe I have, but that’s how it feels every spring when I get the Genesister back out after a lonely winter in the garage. We’ve had so much rain and flooding this year that it’s taken me way too long to start my season.

I set out this morning with Natty Light and our pal Tabitha to kick off the summer with some singletrack, rock gardens and tons of mud.

For the first time ever, it felt so natural to be clipping in to my pedals and heading off into the woods. You see, I’m usually a little nervous and cautious on my first ride of the year, thinking silly thoughts I don’t need to mention here. I think today was different because I was leading the ride and feeling responsible for two less experienced riders who are unfamiliar with our trails.

I’m crediting this feeling with an experience I just had in Florida that changed my outlook on leadership.

When it comes to mountain biking and snowboarding, my husband is usually the one who leads, taking chances on new tricks and encouraging me to do the same. I watch and follow him because it makes me feel secure to see someone else do something that I can’t visualize or that makes me uncomfortable.

But, when it comes to any water sports, I’m the part of our duo that takes charge. Chris is generally, shall we say, not at home, on the water. It physically pains me that he doesn’t like the beach or boating as much as I do because salt water and a little bay muck course through my veins. So while we were visiting my Dad on the Gulf side of Florida the other week, you know I wanted to get Chris out on the water.

I couldn’t wait to take him on a paddle out to Shell Key and the private beach there, knowing that he would enjoy the adventure of it.

I said I was very comfortable being on the water… What I’m not familiar with is getting TO the water with all of the gear. The way I grew up didn’t require anything more than walking out the back door with your paddle or cooler and shoving off the dock. So when my dad entrusted ME (and Chris’ muscle) to get two kayaks securely on top of his SUV, drive across a very long suspension bridge to our drop-in spot 30 minutes away, get them off the truck without damaging anything, and do it all in reverse, I was very anxious. But having lunch in this spot was enough to assuage my fears in setting off:

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I very nearly wussed out of getting to that spot, partly because I could tell Chris was a bit wigged over the fact that I’d never been responsible for the technical details. A few things dawned on me as we were about to load up the last bits of gear for the day. 1) I couldn’t show that I was a bit weirded out because then Chris wouldn’t have confidence in me (or himself). 2) I recognized that I had to push past feeling uncomfortable if I wanted to get the most out of my day and grow my inner strength. And 3) the reason I believed everything would turn out great (read: no smashed kayaks laying on the highway or busted truck windows) was because my dad had complete faith in sending me on my novice way.

The moral of my story is this: when you believe that those around you trust in your ability to be successful, anxiousness falls away and you ARE successful.

Thinking of my ride today, I remember something my friend Chris M. says – “It’s not a successful mountain biking day unless you draw blood.” Check.

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