This is the second in a series of posts from Tracey Petervary aimed at women cyclists looking to become more confident as riders. But understand that there is plenty of good information here for men too! -Kid
Hello again, ladies! PRACTICE builds CONFIDENCE! So I hope you have all been getting out and practicing your riding skills; shifting, braking, cornering, climbing and descending…while hopefully not changing too many flats.
CONFIDENCE is actually a skill that takes practice. Yes, confidence is a skill. Believing in your riding ability so that you can overcome challenges and difficult times takes practice.
You are the only one who can challenge yourself and know what challenges you'd like to conquer. Whether your reason for riding is to win or just finish a race, complete a century ride, get in shape, save money and resources by commuting, just for the love or riding, or because you'd like to see what you are capable of…you have to want it.
Remember, every time you get on your bike, you are a pedal stroke closer to becoming a better and more experienced cyclist. Surround yourself with like-minded, positive people. Friends, family, and teammates can encourage you and lift you up when you’re feeling down. Find a training partner. I have experienced a boost in motivation and in my ability to push harder when I have a partner to ride with.
So, challenge yourself. Enter a race. Maybe get a friend to join you and ride it together. Get out of your comfort zone. Push yourself a little harder to reach the point that you are slightly uncomfortable. It will only last a short while and can become addictive once you've gone there and know what you are capable of.
Remind yourself of the long term goal you want to achieve, maybe doing a 50 or 100-mile non-stop ride, a 6-hour race, or riding over a steep pass to get to work.
Start with shorter rides and work your way up. Think of challenging situations and imagine how you will respond to them.
What will you do if you have to fix a flat or repair a chain in the pouring rain?
What if you bonk (run out of energy) during a training ride or even a race and got dropped?
What if you were out on a ride and got lost?
Being prepared mentally, physically and technically will help you get through these times. You can do it! Lots of people do!
I live in the mountains where the weather is “consistently inconsistent” most of the year. I can start a ride in sunshine and then be greeted with rain, snow, and high winds within a few miles. Or sometimes I just have to start my ride in the rain, snow and wind, and hope that conditions will improve. I'm not a fan of riding a trainer so I rarely use one.
So what do I do? I put on my well-tested rain gear, or heavier layers and I get out there! That is why they make the stuff, right? I am not concerned about riding in unfavorable conditions. Do I like it? Not always. But, because I have prepared and tested my gear in such conditions, I am confident I can handle whatever Mother Nature throws at me and I will be as comfortable as I can be.
Believe me, it is not easy. Staying motivated to ride in these conditions can be a challenge, but the more you practice riding in these conditions the more comfortable you will get. So expose yourself. Go ride in the rain with nasty headwinds or whatever conditions you don't like and test your gear. This will give you confidence that you are prepared for any condition, at any time. Practice eating and drinking on the bike, riding with no hands, and carefully taking your jacket on and off while riding.
It has taken me YEARS of cycling to be as confident as I am today. I am still learning and having fun!
Enjoy the ride!
Tracey putting her confidence to good use on the Tour Divide…
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Endurance cyclist Tracey Petervary is a New Jersey native residing in Victor, Idaho. She started adventure racing 18 years ago, enjoying multi-day, multi-sport team events traveling to places such as Fiji, New Zealand and across the United States. Her stable includes several bikes (MTB, road, cyclocross, commuter, fat, tandem), which allow her to ride every day of the year in any condition.