The Price of Fear

As soon as spring comes I am one of those ridiculous people who has their road bike out in the slush riding alongside the runners in shorts just because it is finally ‘hot‘. Or the woman on the mountain bike who is poised at the top of a trail in the valley which is currently a mud slide knowing she can’t ride down it, but hopefully can one day soon.

It is amazing how warm +1 and sunny can feel after a five months of -20.

For me, clipping in happens sooner than it should for someone with my clumsy tendencies, but the happiness is always worth the risk.

  • Except this year.

Clipping into the joy of flying down the road and embracing nature on the trails didn’t happen. Instead my bike, helmet, glasses, shoes, kit and backpack sat poised at my front door while I simply kept telling myself, ‘Tomorrow Donloree … you will hit the trails tomorrow’ as I tied on my running shoes or grabbed my gym bag.

A few weeks ago on Friday when the plan was to hit the trails for a few hours after my last coaching client was foiled due to a thunderstorm rolling in, I was not sad.

  • Oddly enough, relief filled me.

Its bad when you realize how weird you’re being and you start to annoy yourself. Or maybe it is good because you’re finally to the point of your dysfunction when you’re ready to do something about how weird you are being.

Last year was my first year with the Dirt Girls.

Dirt Girls (Dur-tuh Gur-zuh) Fabulous club of women who ride the trails with fury and take every bridge, trail, jump and obstacle in stride, er, pedal.

Being a newbie and ridiculous, I signed up for both the regular team and the race team … because what girl doesn’t want to race?

  • Small problem.

The race team was the group of women who are supposed to lead rides and help the newer riders along in their development.

  • Did I mention that I was brand new to the world of mountain biking? 

10 years of being a roadie doesn’t prepare you to take rutty single track with abandon with 20 women behind you and looking to you for guidance and expertise. Also? When you’re the ride leader and you get lost on the ride even after doing a recon ride two evenings before and you’re the one who clotheslines herself on a branch … it is hard to recover your dignity.

The season wore on and I kept pedalling and tried to keep up with my cute jersey firmly zipped up.

Then things at the company I was working for went south and after a few too many rides which I had to bail on mid-ride, I was happy to see the season end.

If you’ve laid off over half the company and you’re the HR Director, it is probably not the best idea to recover from one of the worse days of your professional life by weaving in and out of the trees and trying to avoid stumps and other obstacles in overgrown single track.

  • When the mountain biking season ended, I wasn’t sad to see it come to a close.

In the midst of all the chaos of my work and life, I somehow lost my verve for mountain biking.

Last week, after shaming myself for not going on the Thursday night Dirt Girls ride AGAIN, I clipped in and took myself on the trails. 20 km and a few kind and forgiving single track trails later, I was one of the happiest women in the city.

Contessa yeg river valley trail

Happiness is a girl, her bike and a fabulous ride.

I had forgotten how much I love biking. As I dropped into my first trail, my face broke into a smile and I didn’t stop smiling until I woke up the next morning.

Fear has a way of making you forget how wonderful things can be.

Being fearful doesn’t leave room for anything else in life, after all, you’re full of fear.

Choose to make space and reclaim what is important to you and what you love. Sure it is scary, but what do you have to lose? You’re already scared so just be scared while you get what you want in life. It won’t happen over night but little by little you can move through fear and find your way back to joy.

Push against the darkness of fear with the light of courage and I promise the result will be worth it.

  • Have I made it to a Dirt Girls ride yet this year? No. Will I? That’s the plan. 

When I choose to stop caring what other people think and only care about what is best for me, I know having eight women riding too close behind me on the trails isn’t what I need quite yet. Until I feel 75% confident that I won’t trigger a Dirt Girls Domino Effect, I will keep pushing myself on the trails and just enjoy my ridiculously fabulous Scott Contessa Spark without judgement.


Besides, in about two weeks I have a mountain relay race to run while avoiding death. Recovering from a concussion isn’t part of my training plan at this moment.

What is fear keeping you from? Where does the light of your courage need to shine?

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  1. Rare is the day…. ehr, never is the time when I get on my bike and not think of you and your passion for passion. We’ve been down this *path* before, you and me – avoidance. BUT, the wind in our faces, the smells of the earth, the freedom of speed, and the knowledge of the potential to fall — those, those can tell fear to go straight to hell.

    How’s that for a ru-on sentence…?


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