This was my first group climb with new people. I consider myself an outgoing introvert. I can talk to people, I can make small talk, I’ll ask you questions, I’ll ramble on about myself, but it drains me. I would even go so far as to say I have moderate anxiety.
I joined the Pedal Women’s Club to meet more female cyclists and improve my skills. I was also nervous and apprehensive to join a club with 20 or more people I would have to get to know, meet up with in a group setting, converse with, basically go way out of my comfort zone to make this beneficial.
But being as frugal as I am, paying for the club fees, and then buying the Pedal jersey, I was damn well going to get my money’s worth.
I nearly didn’t go to the first Pedal Women’s Club group meeting at the Egg and I. I received kind of awful news the night before and was mentally drained by the time I woke up the next morning. The absolute last thing I wanted to do was get to know new people. I tried to come up with any excuse I could, but my wonderful boyfriend, Chris, forced me to accept that meeting women to ride with would be good for me and there was nothing else stopping me from going to this meeting.
I unenthusiastically drove my car to the Egg and I, anxiety pounding in my chest. I walked up to the greeter and asked where the Pedal Meetup Group was located. She pointed to the table full of women with plates of food in front of them. I walked up and they all stopped what they were doing and saying to greet me. I said, “I’m Jessica and I’m here for the Pedal Meetup.” There was a resounding “HI!” and then followed with, “Did your invitation say 12 or 12:30?” “Um, 12:30.” “Shit, sorry. It was supposed to be noon.”
I sat down, made small talk with Allyson and Julie, who I learned a lot about. Then we went around the table and introduced ourselves. I left that group meeting feeling a little mentally exhausted, but excited that I found an accepting group.
Fast forward to the Hill Climb Clinic last weekend. This was both the racing group (which includes men) and the women’s riding club. I was even more anxious for this meetup because:
- We were climbing Lookout Mountain
- We were climbing Lookout Mountain with the legit racing group
- I didn’t know how I’d ride against all these other what-I-assumed-to-be impressive and highly skilled climbers.
- What if I can’t find the group?
- What if I can’t find the parking?
- What if I find the parking and there are no parking spaces?
- What happens if I can’t keep up?
- What happens if I get a flat tire?
- What happens if I embarrass myself by some other means?
- What if I’m late?
- Do I wear the Pedal jersey or do I wear something different?
- Should I wear my jacket and knee warmers?
That’s just a smidgen of the anxious thoughts that cycled through my brain. Again, I tried to find all the excuses I could muster to avoid going to the meetup and again, my lovely Christopher said I’ll have fun. He followed that with how impressed he already was with me. It put my thoughts at bay until I was on my way over to Lookout Mountain. Sweaty palms, my stomach doing somersaults, anxiety was riding high.
I pulled into the parking lot: spots were open and I recognized all the Pedal jerseys. I took a couple of deep breaths when I parked, put on all my garb, and pulled up to the group. I didn’t speak a word the entire introduction. Aaron gave us the low down and basically said we were climbing up the mountain. If we thought we could make it to the top within 30-40 minutes, then to go for it. For the others, they’d meet at the parking lot a little more than halfway up the mountain so he could tell us the best way to descend.
We started. I was passing people, calling my pass, and felt pretty confident in my climbing abilities. As I passed the parking lot, I didn’t see anyone, so I assumed I was making pretty good time, so I kept climbing. As I climbed, I saw the men from earlier coming down, motivating us. I made it to the top with quite a few others and we all started descending.
We all gathered at the parking lot and Aaron went over the best ways to descend, the do’s and don’ts, and all the above. We started making our descent and my bike felt funny. It was a little wobbly and so was my confidence.
I looked down. A flat. My confidence deflated as flat as they damn tube. This lady pulled over with me and asked if I was okay. I told her that I got a flat, which was nothing new. Aaron also pulled over and asked if we were alright. I told him the same and he started pulling out his tools and said he’ll help because it’ll be faster. I hate to admit it, but he was a little faster than me. We talked about the fact that I get so many flats. He told me to bring it in to Pedal and ask them to check to see if the nipple was too sharp. I made the joke that that was the first time I heard that.
Then Aaron showed me a different way to descend and take corners. We made it down and no one said anything about it.
I know this group is a good thing for me. It forces me out of my comfort zone and I’m meeting new people, which is never a bad thing. And I like these people. They’re my kind of people: supportive, fun, and skilled.