The Transylvania Times -

Do The Things You Are Afraid To Do


July 23, 2018

Recently I volunteered at a local mountain bike camp. Myself and other professional racers and riders told stories of racing and training. We offered a round table discussion of all topics cycling and the questions varied. What to eat before a race? Who makes the best bikes? What are your favorite trails? One question from the audience was unusual: “What makes the best ride?” Not, “What was your favorite ride?” or “What makes the best place to ride? What makes the best ride?

The other presenters told stories of amazing adventures in the high mountains of France or ripping down an endless ribbon of trail around Lake Tahoe, but I went a different direction. I said what makes a ride the best is doing what you are afraid to do.

That does not mean jumping off massive cliffs or throwing yourself down the steep shoots of Farlow Gap trail. It means stepping out of your comfort zone every once in a while. It is a calculated risk, not something to attempt with reckless abandon.

We live in an amazing place, and we are lucky to call it home. However, I would bargain that most of us have never hiked every trail or seen every single waterfall. I know I haven’t. Every time I ride a trail or road I have never been on, it is a cascade of emotion. All my pressures and responsibilities fall off of me and I am that kid again, the one who just learned how to ride and just realized there is much more to this world than the street he grew up on.

My senses are assaulted with new challenges. I have to decide when to shift and when to brake. I have to calculate how much grip is in the soil and how much I can trust my tires to hold. I ride at half pace, slowly learning and trusting what is behind the next corner or hiding around the next tree. I have to think and decide and problem solve. Focusing and learning and calculating simultaneously. Everything else is extraneous thought.

When I get to experience those new areas, it’s an amazing feeling. But I also enjoy assisting and watching other people go through that same process. As a coach, I find great satisfaction in showing people that they can do more and go further. From teaching a new skill, congratulating them on a breakthrough performance, or just showing them a trail they have never been on – it’s a reward for both of us.

I challenge you to do what you are afraid to do. Again, not something reckless or dangerous, but really experience what Transylvania County has to offer. Step out of that comfort that society provides and do something that you have to think through and test yourself. We live in a unique place, and what better way to experience it than to immerse yourself in it. Go look at that waterfall you’ve never been to. Ride that trail or road that is always out of reach. Take a friend or family member out and help them experience something new. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.

(Cowie is a cycling fitness and skills coach and Brevard College graduate. He works for Carmichael Training Systems in Pisgah Forest.)


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