Lessons in Life & Cycling: Ride Like Somebody's Watching

Monday, May 20, 2019

I spent about 90 of my first 100 rides at Harness Cycle on the same bike: the one in the back corner of the room. Bike 36 is my jam. No one can see me, but I can see everyone, which means I can do my best to keep up, but if I fail, well, not a damn soul is watching me do it.

But at what point do I have to admit that I am sometimes just back there to hide?

Recently, I wanted to sign up a little late for a particular class, but the entire back row was booked. Instead, I took a bike in the middle of the second-to-last row - & I was surprised by how much it changed the way I rode.

I always think I'm giving my all, but now I think I might sometimes be fooling myself. 

Riding in the middle of the second-to-last row meant that not only was there another rider directly behind me, there were also riders behind me on both sides. For someone who's used to riding in a corner, that's a lot of potential people who could see me screw up - & I was nervous as hell.

Even though I recently wrote about how we don't know what anyone else's body can do - or why it does what it does - I still worry that people who see me ride will think, "Oh, that overweight girl can't keep up" during the times when I need to ride seated instead of "up & out," or when I set down the weights during arms, or when I miss the beat during push-ups. Or whatever.

That first class when I rode with an entire, packed row behind me felt terrifying at first. As class progressed, though, I realized that it was actually helping me to be a better rider than ever before.

Let me explain.

When I'm in the corner, I can "sit out" as needed... but do I actually need to, or am I just kind of tired? Kind of sore? Kind of lazy? 

With people behind me - people who could potentially be judging me or, more importantly, looking to me as a role model as they get acclimated to riding - I felt more inclined to ride through my comfort zone. There were times when, had I been on my standard corner bike, I would've sat down instead of riding up & out - but knowing that other riders could see me, especially ones who were new to riding themselves, kept me out of the seat, pushing my limits, & trying to ride the best I could.

I used to ride in the back because I couldn't keep up - & now I ride in the back because I can keep up & maybe just don't always want to.

But that's not how we get better. That's not how we grow.

So I'm moving up. Not far, & maybe not always - just to that second-to-last row, for now, where a total of about eight people can see me, if they're even paying attention - but for now, that's enough. For now, that's just a little bit more motivation to ride my hardest. To be my best. To move myself forward &, hopefully, to inspire a couple of other folks to do the same.

That's a lesson for life, isn't it? If you're doing what no one can see, you're probably slacking a little bit. Putting yourself out there may make you vulnerable, but it may also make you work that much harder - & be that much better.

See you on a bike, friends. I'll be the one in the middle of the second-to-last row, flying like the wind.

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