Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Letter to My Friend, Fear

Dear Fear:

I want to thank you for accompanying me on my recent bike trip through the south of France. While I didn’t anticipate the opportunities available to us for such meaningful bonding, I’m happy you decided to tag along. Seriously, nothing like high-octane anxiety coursing through one’s veins to enhance time spent abroad. I might have guessed that you were dropping by if I’d scrutinized the details of the week more thoroughly. For example, it’s possible I could have deduced that teaching yoga on a bike tour requires . . . wait for it . . . riding a bike! An activity on par with clowns and Sarah Palin in terms of scariness, in my opinion.

Among the readers of, I suspect there are gaggles of skilled cyclists, uber-athletes on wheels, and eco-chic commuters who troll the streets en bicyclette, I am not one of them. With the exception of sporadic spinning classes and the occasional desire to ride the recumbent bike at the gym when I prefer to read a magazine or watch Grey’s Anatomy rather than actually, say, sweat, I hadn’t been on a bike in roughly 15 years—until last week. There are those for whom gracefully weaving through traffic, pedaling up hills and coasting back down, and, generally, manipulating a bike that moves is second nature (you laugh, but this was new to me). To you, the world looks better, breezier, and brighter from a bike. To me, it looks downright terrifying.

Yet, the quivering did stop, eventually; the visions of white lights at the end of a tunnel subsided, and the deafening sirens of the inevitable ambulance that would haul my rubble imbedded body off to the hospital faded.

Soon, I too loved the way the world looked from a bike . . . I just didn’t like when the bike went too fast downhill. Blame it on my overly cautious nature; call me a control freak; I’m cool with that. I’ll catch you on the next uphill, dude, and then we’ll see who has speed on their side.

Okay, excuse the bravado; here's the truth: I worried about my inability to shake you, Fear. I even asked one of the guides for his input. At the rate I was going, I was afraid I’d hold up the group from arriving at their next location (before Christmas). Sheep in nearby fields were passing me on the downhills. His response: “On each hill, go a little bit faster than you are comfortable,” which I think is sage advice and applicable to life's greater journey, on wheels or otherwise.

So, I did, and you should have seen me! I coasted. I glided. I positively sailed. I looked back to get your attention, Fear. I wanted to show you how far I’d come—that I was smiling and having a grand old time, but you were nowhere in sight. In any case, thanks for spending time with me; the trip wouldn't have been the same without you.

Your friend,
Om Gal

1 comment:

juan antonio fernandez said...

Bravo, Om Gal!

You'll be descending in an aero tuck before you know it.

"In skating over thin ice, our safety is in our speed."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson