Fear of the Trail

When it comes to running, I’d rather be on trails than the road. Hiking? The trail calls to me. But when it comes to biking, riding on trails instead of roads means constant stress as I psych myself out over avoiding rocks and roots.

I’ve practiced on muddy or ballast-covered rail trails, which has really improved my comfort on the bike in unstable conditions, but I’ve always been too afraid to try more varied terrain – until now!

Last weekend, I discovered some trails I’ve never been on in a local state park, and they looked perfect for me to practice on and build my confidence. So when I had a free afternoon today, I took my 9:zero:7 fat bike out to try on “real” trails.

The fat bike (which is built to accommodate extremely fat tires for sand and snow) is almost like training wheels because the tires can roll over obstacles so easily. That said, I can’t bunny hop logs, and there were some blow-downs from recent strong winds and a lot of debris littering the trail. This put me a bit on edge, and the sections in the beginning that I thought would be easy were spent moving branches out of the way.

Not long after that, I came across some rocks and immediately stopped and walked the bike. I did that every time I had to pass a section that required going over rocks, even if they were flattish and probably do-able. I just had no desire to try.

I started to question why I am even trying to mountain bike when I essentially don’t like it.


I thought about a TED talk I watched this morning about girls being brought up to be afraid of failure and not taking risks – of not being courageous. Then I remembered how eager I was to try more technical terrain during the summer that I rode the rail trail every day. I realized that I just needed to feel as comfortable on my bike now as I did then, and I will want to do more. And my lack of motivation – that’s mostly fear.

So I kept going. I walked all of the steep downhill sections and rocky parts, and there was a smoother part that, when I finished, I turned around and rode again. I became more comfortable, and I know that I will continue to grow more comfortable with practice.

I plan on returning to this trail. I hope that each time I do, I’ll walk the bike a little less and try something that I couldn’t do the last time. I don’t supposed I’ll be a pro any time soon, but I don’t like having so much fear of the trail, which should feel like home.


Ever on!


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