Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who happened to have a home in Hyde Park, NY, which is not far from where I’m from, was speaking in his first inaugural address as U.S. President in 1933, in the depths of the depression, when he spoke the words “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. What a statement of truth. Although, thankfully, I have never had to face anything like the Great Depression, I have found myself thinking from time to time, of this statement about fear, as I conquer little fears in my life.
You might laugh, but one of those little fears of mine was of using clip-on cycling shoes. (I said you might laugh!) A number of years ago I became interested in triathlons. I trained and competed in a few, and I had a lot of fun doing so. Typically though, when cycling for the distances I was, you’d trade in your sneakers and pedals for special cycling shoes which clip on to special pedals. Of course, being clipped in means that you have to unclip to be able to put your foot on the ground to either balance yourself or get off of the bike. It takes some getting used to, to be able to quickly “free” your foot. You’d be surprised at how often you’d have to stop suddenly, and put your foot down quickly! If you don’t unclip fast enough, you, and your bike, tip over.
Well, I was afraid of tipping over so I stuck with my sneakers and ordinary pedals … for years (many, many years). When we moved to Ireland 10 years ago, I stopped cycling for a while. But a few years ago I started again. Then last year I upgraded my bike, and finally, just a couple of months ago, I decided to upgrade to clip-on shoes. Even entertaining the idea was huge progress for me! I was finally leaving my comfort zone. I had the support of my husband, who has become an avid cyclist. He knew that after I got the hang of them, having the proper cycling shoes would actually help my cycling! Oh I was so stubborn, due to my fear.
The first few cycles with the new shoes went great, but I hadn’t really been tested with a need to quickly un-clip. That would happen on our vacation, when we were cycling in traffic! There was, as it usually happens, a need to stop quickly and I was able to un-clip in the nick of time! Let me tell you that my heart was racing! Well, that worked out O.K.; I managed to not fall over, or get hit by a car!
There is a little more to this story, though. On another outing while on this same vacation, I managed to actually tip over. I was really lucky to have it happen the way it did! We were in the country this time (no traffic!), and I was going really, really slow as we were debating if we were going to turn around at this junction or the next, and as I went to turn, I hadn’t maneuvered properly and as if in slow-motion, I tipped over! Thankfully I didn’t hurt myself, and I learned that you can still un-clip as you are falling. 🙂
I’m still super cautious with un-clipping, but I’m so glad that I finally switched over to proper cycling shoes. They really do make a difference with your cycling! And it all came down to conquering my fear.
As I get older, I have become more aware of little fears that have held me back. Little by little, though, I’ve been learning to face them and over come them. Because if we face what is in front of us, then as FDR said, “we have nothing to fear but fear itself”.
What little fears will you conquer?