As I rode today on the streets of Essex, I felt a lot more comfortable on the roads than where I was yesterday. However, it was good to be out of my comfort zone yesterday.
I went with a friend on some power line trails and other mountain tracks in the Ski Roundtop area yesterday. What a humbling challenge! There many things that created this challenge. I borrowed his mountain bike. His bike works differently than mine. I had problems switching gears at times, just because I wasn't doing it right. His bike used four switches to change gears; my bike switches gears by twisting the handlebar. My friend kept telling me I needed to learn to let the bike do its work; the shocks, for example, could handle some of rocks, bumps, etc. I obviously needed to get to know the bike more. (Not that I am going to be doing that again soon!)
The terrain was challenging. We had one steep climb. I was supposed to lean over the front of the handlebars, so that the bike would not do a natural "wheelie" when I pushed down the pedals. I ended up walking the bike; I couldn't do it. Other than a broken down bike, I haven't walked a bike up a hill for ages. How humbling! We also rode over thick grass, one log, many rocks, and in ruts. Plus, all was wet and slippery. We had mud splashed all over us. By the way, he zoomed down the hills. I braked for I had problems getting a grasp of the trail. (In his words again, I needed to trust the bike more to do its work.) With all the rocks in the ruts, how could he be so fearless!
That being said, I am glad I went. First of all, I had not seen my friend for years. Secondly, the beauty of riding on the mountain (we were near Ski Roundtop) was sensational. I rode by ponds through countless trees on a day with a deep blue sky and bright sunshine. Yes, I admit that is better than riding by sewer drains avoiding countless cars and trucks. Thirdly, I am glad I didn't stay in my comfort zone. I don't want to be paralyzed by fear. (That doesn't mean I didn't have fear. I used the brake going down some of those hills; he probably never touched his brake until he decided to wait up for me.)
Kudos to my friend. He waited patiently many times for me whether he was going up hill or down hill. Over the last bit of time, he has been racing mountain bikes. Then he invites me, who only rides roads, to do a mountain trail. So again, kudos to his patience.
What did I learn? Live life and ride bike humbly; it will take you places you have never dreamed. Swallow fear. Finally, get to know your bike (your tools, computer, etc.), so that your ride (work) will be less stressful.