For a long time, I’ve been doing battle with a niggling little voice that insists on telling me that I’m not good enough, that I can’t do it. The voice casts doubts on my ability to ride my bike, to get up that hill, to make it over that drop off. It’s a voice that’s spent many years popping up at the least-helpful moments, and I’ve been prone to listening to it, not fighting it and proving it wrong.
Well, last weekend we went to Afan and everything seemed to change. It was a wet and miserable day, the sort where I’d normally look out of the window and wonder about changing my plans. But on this wet and miserable day I didn’t do that. I hopped out of bed, made myself some porridge, climbed in the van and the Mr drove us over to Wales, where we proceeded to have a brilliant bike ride.
It felt great to be spinning my legs, making headway up the first climb of Whites Level, even though it was rather grey and rather damp. It felt ace to be whizzing down Windy Point, not touching the brakes as often as I used to. And when I hit the bit where I had to pedal in the middle of Energy, I didn’t hear the usual voice. There was no one telling me I couldn’t do it. Instead, I actually spoke out loud: “Come on legs, you’ve got this!”
I didn’t notice it at the time, and didn’t reflect on it until much later, when the same thing happened at the climbing wall on Friday night. I was making a second attempt at a route that I struggled to do on the first go and as my grip tightened on the first hold, I heard myself saying: “Yep, you can do this”. And you know what? I was right – I could do it, and I did do it, just as my legs could do it and did do it the week before at Afan.
This really is a huge breakthrough for me and the best part of it is the fact that it seems to have happened entirely by itself. I wasn’t telling myself to be more positive, I wasn’t focusing on changing my mind set. It seems to have happened as I’ve pushed myself more physically, proving to myself twice a week at the gym that I can do more than I thought I could. When I’m in the gym doing my strength training, with my trainer encouraging me and telling me I can do more, I’m soaking it up. I’m taking on his words and I’m surprising myself with what I can do: 28 press ups – little old me?!
It’s been incredibly powerful to break through my boundaries and prove to myself week after week that I can do so much more than I ever thought possible. It’s given me a level of self-belief I’ve never experienced before. Obviously, I’m chuffed to see that the strength training I’ve done so far has helped me shave eight minutes off the Whites Level climb (and I’m looking forward to challenging myself more on my bike). But the biggest thing I’m getting from working on my strength is what it’s doing to my mind. That’s where I’m really winning.
Have you ever struggled with confidence and self-belief whilst riding your bike? I’d love to hear what you’ve done to get over it.