I was chatting via FB yesterday to "Millicent". She told me she had written a blog about her cycling experience and I confessed to her I had also written one under her pseudonym. We thought it would be fun to have you read her perspective...enjoy! Another lesson of fear overcome. Do something you fear every day!
It’s day one of the training and I am happy to be awoken by birds. The sounds are unlike any I have heard in the states. The birds are loud and exotic. I open the French doors of my room, which looks out onto a magnificent English Garden and a crew of rescue dogs. Meme has been renamed Tsunami and I have an instant bond with her. We walk parade style to find breakfast. Breakfast at Elaine’s is heavenly. I walk in to find a plate of brightly colored fruits- watermelon, mango, passion fruit, banana and strong Congolese coffee. Today I made the mistake of asking to ride with Kim up the mountain on a bike before work. So it’s a quick breakfast and then I head out. I am terrified which I explain to Kim in great detail. I am riding to try to figure out why I am so afraid of speed. And then add in that I will be dealing with farm animals darting into the road, huge tracker trailers travelling through with goods from Tanzania and kids who may either follow along or spit on me, depending. This is a stupid idea. Really one of the worst ideas I’ve ever had. At home in the states I had just watched the dashboard camera footage on YouTube of ‘Russian Driving’ and visions of army tanks traversing the highway at random, overturned truckloads of cows and people purposefully hurling themselves at cars in the hopes of a payday dance in my head.
I do ok on the assent reminding myself that I am not in fact in Russia. But on the way down everything changes. I learn the brakes don’t actually totally work. They can slow me down a bit but I will never stop unless I hurl myself into a tree. I contemplate hurling myself and then realize I also don’t actually know how to do that either. According to my new coach, the best plan of action if someone or something darts in front of me is to swerve. Keep my eyes on the big picture, take in the whole scene, anticipate future challenges, and take my mother fucking hands off the brakes. Kim tells me if I don’t that my bike will catch fire. I am unfazed by this bit of information and squeeze the brakes until my hands and wrists are blue and ache. It is 9 hours until happy hour.
Kim is a great coach and holds steady as I become unhinged. That I was able to complete the ride at all is only because of her coaching me. She is an expert. There is nothing more interesting to me than watching a master of their craft at work and I am trying to focus on that. I am trying to focus on the privilege of being with an expert. I don’t know anything about cycling but I do know what it feels like to be with a teachers’ teacher. AHHHH. If I can’t be in the zone I can at least appreciate someone who is.
There is a rule that all great teachers follow and that is simply to not go into the confusion of your students. Great teachers remain steady and hold space for their students so that they can build confidence. When students don’t feel judged, they get very good, very fast. That said, I know I will never repeat this most horrible of all the ideas I’ve ever had on this trip. I will stick to my morning jog, daily yoga and nightly glasses of wine as my decompression chamber.
I have so much fear. Is everyone afraid all the time or is it just me? I am so afraid all the time. Of everything. I have been teaching yoga for 10 years and I am still afraid every time I teach. I am still working on sustaining eye contact with people. I am still a little fat. But I don’t have a support system in Rwanda and I am so afraid to get back on that bike without some way of processing it. The only thing worse than putting myself through that every morning and not breaking through would be breaking through. I cannot afford a psychotic break on this trip. It’s only 5 days. No more biking.