It’s several months since I starting riding again after breaking my wrist. And I still regularly experience anxiety when mountain biking. As it’s now Autumn I’ve been reflecting on the progress since I started this project in Spring. It’s not nearly as much as I would like it to have been. I have feelings of guilt associated with that. So what’s holding me back? I am, but why?

Last weekend I drove to the Arapuke Forest Park near Palmerston North. I arrived looking forward to riding somewhere with shuttles, spending the day descending instead of feeling unfit riding uphill. I was unprepared for the ascent to get to the shuttle pick up point. It didn’t take long before my anxiety kicked in and my heartbeat increased. I felt like the most unfit person there, especially when I arrived at the top and saw people riding the expert grade trails.

Feeling out of my depth my confidence took a dive. Which is weird because I’ve ridden intermediate and advanced level trails loads of times without it being a problem. I became convinced that other riders there would see me as a fraud with a flash bike and no real fitness or ability. Mountain bikers are generally a friendly bunch and I know that my perceptions that day didn’t reflect reality. In fact people I spoke to were really helpful and sociable. Rachel, who co-owns Kahuts Shuttles with her daughter, and drives the van is super friendly and clearly passionate about mountain biking and Arapuke.

In the end I didn’t spend as much time riding as I’d hoped. Everything took longer than expected and I had to get back to Wellington for a specific time. The trails I rode also had a lots of descents into tight berms which compresses my wrist and causes pain in the joint.

Overcoming my Anxiety

Depression and anxiety have been a part of my life for a long time to varying degrees. I have confidence based on specific skills, but it doesn’t translate into being a confident person. I accept it’s not possible to eliminate them completely, but I’m finished with them holding me back to this degree. It’s a lack of confidence which keeps me somewhere safe and mediocre instead of pushing myself to improve. That doesn’t just apply to mountain biking, but to other areas of my life. I need to let go of guilt from the past and learn from it.

So what did I learn from this experience? It’s ten days until I’m away for the North Island Tour which I’m genuinely excited about. I need to relax more and not allow negative perceptions I have about myself to dominate my thinking. It’s going to be a challenge, but the only person I have anything to prove to is myself. I’ve been doing the stretching routines covered in this post. I’ve researched where I’m heading, and made a list of trails I know can handle.

I can become a skilled and confident rider if I’m mentally prepared to get out of my comfort zone and push myself. My confidence will increase over time and I’ll be able to handle setbacks which will occur. Next time I head to Arapuke it will be better.

This post as a catharsis to help me enjoy the coming adventure.

Mauruuru koe mo te pānui – ara hari!

arapuke mtb park

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