Most people grow out of things. Grow out of shyness, grow out of bedwetting, grow out of asthma. Shyness and bed wetting weren’t really a problem as a kid but I grew IN to asthma. When I was little there was not a sign of anything odd, but then by the age of 8 or 9, my peak flow was worrying, and I was given something brown and something blue to inhale on a daily basis. I guess that was the age when I started feeling the pressures of life. I was a good student, good at sports, but constantly in fights with friends, often in fights with boys and even sinbinned (the worst possible punishment before suspension) at lunch times. This meant I was to sit on a seat at lunch time while my friend’s got to play 4 square, sprints, basketball-rugby or obstacle course. Stink. But apart from that I was a pretty confident kid from the get-go. I was always keen to try something new and was the Queen of the extra-curricular at high school. Played in bands since I was ten and playing Rep Hockey for Waikato since I was 11. Twenties were pretty much just a more adult version of my very busy and multifaceted life, and then I went overseas for a few years to study and work and act and travel, returning to a new phenomena which I like to coin, ‘Social Anxiety’. Mine is of course a mild case and has actually gotten better on reflection, but last year there would some cases where I would not be able to meet a friend at a bar alone. I would need them to walk in with me as I would feel the most bizarre sensation as though my whole body was flushed or the blood had rushed from my toes to my face in a second. I found this explanation:
Social anxiety is the fear of social situations and the interaction with other people that can automatically bring on feelings of self-consciousness, judment, evaluation, and inferiority. Social anxiety is the fear and anxiety of being judged and evaluated negatively by other people, leading to feelings of inadequacy, embarrassment, humiliation, and depression.
More info here
I don’t want to trivialise it but it has been rather funny for the person with me, as they have NO idea that things like walking in to a space where people look at you as you enter can make me want to throw up. If you are a shy person who has trouble speaking in front of people and is known to stumble on words then you get caught out more easily, but for me, being an emcee for an event of 300 people is a piece of cake compared to joining a group already formed and trying to join in – if I don’t know them well, that is.
But this year it has definitely been better.
Something has changed, or maybe I just choose where I go a little better. If I am going to a gig to watch a band I am fine – possibly because my friends are there, or potentially it’s because we are there to focus on a band. There’s a reason we are there. A bar or pub where people check other people out is my worst nightmare.
In the case of turning up to organised cycling rides where groups of people who already know each other and whom I may never see in daily life, well… I feel a little anxious. There they are with their fancy carbon bikes and clip-ins and layers of lycra and back pockets with bananas sticking out, clustered in groups, and I rock on up Monsieur Rouge – the borrowed upgrade from Pink Bike – who is far too big for me, and my regular sneakers and stirrups and my dads leggings (slightly baggy) under my padded bike shorts. I’m there for a reason, though, and hopefully look pathetic and lost enough that eventually some guy comes up to me and asks, “So, you here for the ride?”. I try to smile enthusiastically under my uncle’s helmet, “Um, yes?”.
Now, I am making it sound like I go on these organised group rides all the time. That is total bollocks. I have been meaning to go to them but some of them are 7:30 am on a Sunday morning. Sunday. 7:30 AM? C’mon!? I usually come up with some excuse or luckily my phone (which acts as my alarm) dies in the night, or I set it to pm instead of am. Whatever Walker. Any excuse. But I went this morning from Mt Eden Cycles at 6:30 am. 6:30!!!!!! and I went on Sunday morning out at AvantiPlus Waitakere. Alan who works there has been encouraging me to go to these for weeks and promised there would be girls there, and a range of speeds. Sunday morning 6:30 am my alarm goes off. It’s dark and cold and raining. Pissing down, it’s really heavy. They can’t possibly go in this weather can they? I grab my phone half asleep, trying to google the weather forecast, or the Dept. of Cycling page to see if there are rules about weather. I even go as far as looking up the schedule at SPECFORCE, where I am doing my off-bike training. But I know this isn’t even about the ride, this is about me getting up and getting my damn lycras on and getting on the road.
And somehow I do.
The rain clears, then showers the whole drive in. I’m running 5-10 mins late due to my indecision. Oh God, now that I’m up they better not have left. Will anyone even be there? I have no idea what to expect. I turn up to see no more than 8 guys on fancy bikes and I swear I nearly did a U-turn. I park my car and get out but don’t make eye contact. Maybe they’ll just leave and then I’ll just go for a ride by myself. I get my bike out of the back seat and put the front wheel on. Damn. They have seen me. They cycle over as a flock. Sh!tbix. “You riding with us?” One asks. Me: “Um, yeah, if that’s ok?”. Of course it’s okay- it’s the point of the rides. I quickly say something, nervous they will all watch as I take a puff of my inhaler, or somehow put my wheel on backward. I don’t put my wheel on backward and off we go. The ride was hilly. The Scenic Drive climb was the first part of it and then a few more delicious doozies to bring us home. I didn’t stay with the guys the whole way of course, but would catch them when one of them was peeing on the side of the road or someone else was fixing a puncture. I had a coffee with them after, and guess what? I survived! They talked about Rugby and thanks to Israel Dagg I kind of knew what they were talking about. I told them about Ride Out Of The Blue. They told me about K2- this hilly 220km ride around the Coromandel. I geeked out with them over cycling attire and they admitted that the ride was even quite hilly for them. Success No. 1.
This morning I went to a city version. My friend Fraser had told me about this one, and has also been an inspiration in my early risings for the past 5 days. He is trying to kick a habit of hating getting out of bed in the morning, so for 90 days is waking up at 5:30 to work or to train. I have been doing more like 5:30/5:45 but have been training first thing. This morning’s ride was shorter but faster than I usually travel and that was the slowest group! When I heard the groups were called Fast, Fast-medium and Medium, I knew I was in trouble. But it was good. I need to be riding in packs more and learning the sign language. Hand tapping the small of back on side where there is a potential obstacle- eg, parked car. Pointing straight down for potholes and lots of ‘car back’ calling, which I kinda did anyways. The good thing that aided the cycling social anxiety this morning was that it was really dark when I arrived. I was hoping dark enough so that people wouldn’t be looking at my stirrups and my way-too-big-for-me bike.
Two down. A truck load of group riding to go.
I have a few rather important things I would like to mention.
Firstly, check out this article on Kimmi and Rachel, they are laydees riding with us from Queenstown. Kimmi is a waitress soon-to-be-midwifery student, and Rachel is a mother of three. As you can see we are still seeking support of ALL kinds. Bikes that fit us is number one of course.
I mentioned SPECFORCE earlier. I have to write it like I am shouting because Scotty and Dan who train me are worth it. Scotty found out about us and jumped at the opportunity to help us train through primarily strength, fitness and mental training. These guys have been physical trainers in the army and special forces for YEARS. I cannot tell you how much fun (yes, fun?!) I have been having. I can feel the difference and have found new muscle groups in places I never knew I had. Scotty also supported his best friend who walked from Auckland to Christchurch and was fundraising for Cancer. His mate was in remission himself at the time and they were walking 40km a day. An epic event. He sadly passed away, but what an amazing thing to have done. If you want to to come and do a session with us, you can come and trial it for free. It’s like joining a gym but always being personal trained and doing everything in groups of good natured peeps. I know I need to be pushed or I’ll take the easy way out.
Bananas. I mentioned them earlier too. I wonder if you can be a cyclist and not eat bananas. I have been buying and consuming those things like nothing else… That was me trying to do a segway in to the wonderful Cliff Harvey. My friend Cliff has come on board as my nutritionist and his company Nuzest is sponsoring us protein. Yes, protein. It feels like I eat all the time because I AM eating all the time. Because I have some odd dietary desires, Cliff is going to be a key player in my performance. I am going to talk in more detail about Cliff in my next entry as I have some confessions to make, and you may not want to continue reading my blog after that.
Tee Hee…. that was my Shortland Street ending to make you want to find out what I’m on about….
My acrostic this week is a goodie.
T he F.E.U.C – my debut short film is screening this week with 7 other shorts at the ACADEMY CINEMAS. Come!
I ronman- Craig Bulloch is also raising money for the MHF. Check him out. He is being super supportive of us!
N ephew- I’m posting another photo of Leo because he makes me so, so happy and helps put things in perspective
G ala is shaping up. Sat 27th Oct we ride from Hamilton to Auckland and are holding a comedy fundraising gala!
S ong- Andrew Keoghan’s new video is rad. BRIGHT IDEA made by The Jenson Downes Picture Company
I’ll leave you with Leo and some words from Daisaku Ikeda:
Confront reality, look it squarely in the face, and with guts, wisdom and strength,
challenge everything that lies ahead of you.