Today I certified my woman card (lord that sounds masturbatory) and hit 60 on my bike. No big deal for 99.9% of the riding population, but for me, a major milestone and a revelatory moment.
As a fairly new rider I’ve been zipping around the streets on my scooter for 6 months now and 35mph is my safe place. I’m in control at 35. (something I’ve never said before). But since I got my ‘big girl’ bike all I heard was, ‘have you been on the freeway yet?’ and ‘when are you heading up the mountains?’ I even got a ‘ooooo the freeway is going to scare the pants off you’. After two weeks of riding, every time I even saw a sign for the freeway I would grip my handlebars as though they might somehow force me down the on ramp, out of control and screaming as I headed to the Wyoming border. Even thinking about 4th gear and hitting 40mph+ was enough to make my knees wobbly and an afternoon at the mall seem attractive. But after 2 weeks I couldn’t put it off any longer. I decided to stop tip toeing around and confront the big fear. Hit the freeway. Well the baby freeway. Fast enough to get into 4th gear but so not fast that I would be required to assume the fetal position on the bike.
Here’s the thing. Other than thinking that my head was actually going to blow off my shoulders, I wasn’t afraid. Sure, my head might have been bobbing around like a 2 month old, but there were no white knuckles or clenched jaw. I didn’t spontaneously pee my pants and other than a very small squeak I wasn’t screaming as I accelerated over 50. So I wasn’t exactly punching the air or standing on one leg, but I made it 5 miles at 60 mph. And drove home feeling like I’d conquered Everest.
Its so rare in life to get the opportunity to scare yourself, and to enjoy an accomplishment without any reservation. There was no-one holding my hand. No-one cheering me on – except me. No-one talked me into it, tried to talk me out of it, and there was no urgency to make me do it. I knew I could and I did. And when I was done, I felt good. For the first time I felt confident and strong, in control and competent. Not words I’ve ever applied to myself and believed. Whats next? Flying a plane? Black diamond ski runs? Singing in public? Well lets not get ahead of myself. I felt confident, not insane.
But it does make me wonder..what else can I do? What might I accomplish if I didn’t mentally scare myself into stasis? And where can I get more of this confidence thing?
This is 40? 40 rocks today.