Cycling and looking like a tw*t

by Steve Faulkner on 09 May 2017 | filed in Procrastination Productivity Self Development

I’m sitting here at 07.30 after a 21-mile bike ride. For you cyclists out there this is not a long one at all, but this morning it feels very, very satisfying. The main reason is that I’m beginning to feel comfortable and confident on the bike. I’ve gotten through that icky bit where you have no idea what to buy (on a very small budget), what to wear and how to do it all.

First there’s all the gear. I was lucky enough to get a good deal on a second hand bike, which was the easy bit. Luckily my brother Sean is a cyclist, and after a phone call to establish what was required, I went into the cycle shop and mistakenly asked for some cliques (meaning cleats - the bits that clip your shoes to your pedals) and some ‘big’ shorts (meaning ‘bib’ shorts - the all in one leotard type thing). Once I had established myself as a clueless arsehole, I was ready to go. And still I procrastinated for a few weeks because I was worried about looking like a twat, but of course that ship had sailed.

We’ve all ridden a bike, but when you pop on your funny new clippy shoes and spend 10 minutes flailing around your street, trying to get the damn things into your pedals, it becomes a slightly more advanced matter. Unfortunately, once this is sorted, the feet have to immediately disengage at the first junction and the whole thing begins again, this time in heavy traffic. Then it’s a case of getting used to the gears, the hills and the routes.

So the reason I feel all proud of myself is because I’ve gotten through this bit. I’ve done my usual thing of talking to everyone about cycling, trawling the internet for tips and getting out whenever I can, regardless of that all too familiar voice of resistance telling me it would be a much better use of my time to stay at home where it’s all cosy and warm.

The point of all this is that I’ve wanted to cycle for ages. Running was killing my body and skateboarding too much was repeatedly breaking it, but I was nervous, as I am when I start anything new. I think many of us feel this way when we approach anything new. We can feel vulnerable because, for a period of time, we’re in an unknown and alien place, faced with new skills to learn, a new environment and sometimes even a new language. In much of our lives, as adults, we feel in control and competent, and then, all of a sudden, we move to a more child-like state, dependent on others to help guide us through the murkiness. Only then can we finally find a clarity and a comfort in our new endeavour.

It’s these feelings, or a fear of them, that can prevent so many of us from taking the plunge into something we know we will love. I know people who have yearned to try something for years, but have been beaten by this fear, that vulnerability that can get more and more difficult to face the older we get. I’ve been, and still am, avoiding certain things because I’m scared of…well…looking like a twat. But, like getting my feet into those pedals and getting up those hills, these things have a way of working themselves out.

So if there’s anything you’ve been putting off, I suggest taking the first steps and going for it. It sounds morbid, but we aren’t here forever, so embrace your first fumblings and know that, with determination, they always evolve into expertise, competence and the lovely feeling of satisfaction that can come from starting something new, even if it is just riding a bike.

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day.

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