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Facing Your Fears and Coming Out on Top

  • March 9, 2014
  • By Brittany
Facing Your Fears and Coming Out on Top

Hi there!  How was your weekend?  Hope you had a good one.  Today I want to talk about fear.  Everyone has fear of some kind, whether it be rational or irrational, the jump out and scare you kind or the I’m-not-sure-I-can-do-this kind.  The point is, it is a human emotion that we all share.  Fear is not always a bad thing.  It makes us cautious and aware.  It helps us protect ourselves from things that can hurt us.  But sometimes fear can get in the way of our dreams and accomplishments.  It can limit us in a way that we don’t want or need to be limited.  It can tell us no, when we should be saying yes.  

I have many fears.  The fear that someone is breaking into my apartment in the middle of the night (irrational).  The fear that I won’t succeed at something (rational, but is it necessary?).  The fear that I did something wrong and caused upset (somewhere between rational and irrational).  I also have one very specific fear…downhill.  I don’t mean the metaphorical, my-life-is-going-downhill, I mean actually going down a hill.  Let me explain.

The Hubs and I began “seriously” cycling (I use quotes because I would say we are moderately serious not very serious) about four or five years ago.  We started out just riding along the bike paths in Manhattan.  I rented a hybrid bike on the weekends and enjoyed being outside in the fresh air that is so prevalent along the West Side Highway.  Eventually I got a road bike and we started biking longer and more difficult routes.  The big hill in Central Park was nothing compared to the long stretches of road we biked on Cape Cod or in parts of Westchester or Connecticut.  We would throw our bikes on our car and drive out of the city in search of fun bike routes.

One of our favorite routes is the Palisades Park just over the George Washington Bridge in New Jersey.  In about 20 minutes we would go from bustling Manhattan to nature and trees and more importantly, big paved bike paths.  If you have ever been to the Palisades, you know that it is quite hilly.  In fact, runners, hikers and cyclists alike visit the Palisades because of the immensely challenging workout it provides.  The big hill comes at the end of our route.  It is about 10 minutes of sheer torture as you climb up and up and up the steepest hill ever with no breaks.  I don’t mind the uphill.  In fact, I actually get a kick out of passing these guys decked out in cycling gear slowly making their way up the hill.

We get to the top and it’s a huge relief.  Water and a little bit of rest and we are ready to head back down.  And this is where the real work begins.  I hate the downhill.  I hate going fast.  I hate the bumps that I can’t always see.  I hate feeling like I might crash.  Over the years as we have done this route more and more it has gotten a lot better.  I now feel pretty comfortable going downhill in the Palisades.  They also repaved the roads so large potholes are less of a concern.

Biking Cape Cod

However, my fear of the downhill reared its ugly head again a few months back when we were visiting Australia.  We were in the Blue Mountains where the Hubs grew up and he wanted to take me on a trail ride that he had done as a kid.  Mountain biking can’t be much different from road biking, right?  I’ll give it a try.

Boy was I wrong.

Mountain biking is the antithesis to road biking.  While us road cyclists enjoy the uphill climbs on nicely paved streets, mountain bikers are obsessed with the downhills.  It is all about the uneven terrain and the fastness of pushing yourself through dirt and sand.  I was terrified.

Sand, rocks and downhill after downhill, this ride was not my thing.  I wanted to stop.  I wanted to go home.  I wanted to cry.  I didn’t like feeling out of control as I skidded down the sandy slope.  I constantly felt like I was going to fall and hurt myself.  This was like going downhill in the Palisades times a million.  I honestly thought my husband must be trying to kill me taking me here.

The trip is about an hour out to the point where there are supposedly some good views and another hour back.  The thing is, when you have to stop, get off your bike and walk down the hill, it takes a lot longer.  To say that I was an unhappy camper is an understatement.

But I pushed on.  I wanted to get to the end.  Yes, I wanted to see the view.  But honestly I had been surrounded by “views” since the Australian coastline came into view after 20 plus hours of flying.  I think what I really wanted to do was complete the challenge and conquer my fear.

mountain biking 2

I then forced myself back on the bike and made the miserable challenging journey back.  I couldn’t quit now because I had to get home.

mountain biking 1

In the end, I made it.  I did many downhills and walked some that were too big for me.  I looked my fear in the face and decided it was not going to stop me.  I forced myself to keep going and I overcame.

mountain biking 3

I don’t love mountain biking and probably wouldn’t choose to do it again if I had a choice.  But I’ll definitely be less scared facing my paved downhills on my bike this summer.  I overcame something that will stay with me forever and I learned from the experience.  The best part was that I literally came out on top of the world when I did it!

Oh and as an illustration, I have this amazing footage caught on camera of me kicking butt trying desperately to hold it together.


As a final note, my father-in-law actually crashed his mountain bike on this same path about twelve or so years ago and severely injured himself to the point where he is now medically retired. I was told there was “no way” I would fall.  Well, I didn’t but that was because I was battling my fear!

Readers, what do you fear?  Have you ever tried to conquer a fear?  How do you feel about downhill? 


By Brittany, March 9, 2014
  • Nicole
    March 10, 2014

    Oh I can COMPLETELY relate to the mountain biking fear you’re talking about… I’ve certainly experienced it myself! I remember the first I went mountain biking and I was riding along this area that was all uneven, rocky, and downhill, and I totally felt like I was going to fall off and crack my head open…but I didn’t either! I still get scared and pump my brakes sometimes, and for the most part I’ve learned to quiet my fear and just focus on enjoying the ride. It’s a metaphor for life for sure!

    • FitBritt
      March 12, 2014

      You are so right Nicole! I know you mountain bike. I should have gotten tips from you beforehand! i found that the sand was so slippery that was what made me really nervous. Although my husband did say it was worse when I braked and if I just let myself go I would be ok.

  • Lisa @ Lulu's Big Adventure
    March 10, 2014

    You’re basically describing my life, haha. It is very hilly where I live, and I’ve had some terrifying hills to go down on my road bike where I was sure I was done for. And oh man, mountain biking. I don’t know how people do it. I tried some biking through the woods in Brazil, and I almost cried. It was so scary and I didn’t enjoy it at all. I’ll stick to the road.

    But awesome that you stuck it out!! Rock star 😉

  • Allie
    March 10, 2014

    I am exactly the same way Britt!!! I’ve gotten a lot better on my road bike but once I hit 35 mph, I also hit the brakes. I don’t care if I’m racing – I don’t want to crash and hurt myself. As for mountain biking? I used to compete in Adventure Races years ago and the mountain bike terrain would get pretty technical. I had to talk myself though A LOT of it and, eventually, I was less afraid but it’s still super scary. Good for you for toughing it out and doing it!! I also loved the short video with your GoPro and the music 🙂

    • FitBritt
      March 12, 2014

      Thanks Allie! Biking is so mentally challenging and for me it is strange to have to face a mental fear as opposed to physical exhaustion but I am glad I stuck with it!

  • Paige@FitNotFad
    March 10, 2014

    Ahhhhh I don’t bike a lot but I know the feeling you are talking about 🙁 Glad you were able to safely push yourself and complete the hills!!! Honestly, one of my greatest fears is someone breaking into my house! Sort of irrational but not crazy out here in Tucson; happens all the time. Like I’m terrified to stay home alone! How do I conquer that fear? On nights I’m nervous I take some Nyquil sometimes 🙂 Uhhh maybe not the best but I have to sleep!!!

    • FitBritt
      March 12, 2014

      I have the same fear! I will wake up in the middle of the night and be so groggy that I can’t clearly make out shapes and I will think that a particular shape is a person. It is so freaky! It happens to me a lot when I am home alone!

  • Davida @ The Healthy Maven
    March 10, 2014

    Good for you Britt! There’s nothing better than facing your fears head on and coming out the other side. My list of irrational fears could honestly go on forever. Weirdly enough, downhills and heights are not one of them. My whole body is covered in scars cause I was a little dare-devil on my bike and rollerblades (and skateboard…don’t ask). I thank my brother for that. But in general I live in fear of disappointing people. It’s been something I’ve focused on tackling this year but it still bugs me a lot. I think in time it will less so!

    • FitBritt
      March 12, 2014

      I don’t know how you could ever fear disappointing people. I think more likely than not you exceed the expectations of everyone you come in contact with.

  • Kimberly (Manifest Yourself)
    March 10, 2014

    I love that you and the hubby stay fit together. I am afraid of SO many things… but deep down, I think I am afraid of applying myself and being successful (in terms of weight loss). It kind of scares me to think that I could be done with the journey… even though I want that so badly. But I think that I self-sabotage myself (eating wise)… one day I’ll conquer my fear though!

    • FitBritt
      March 12, 2014

      I know you will Kimberly!

      The Hubs and I really enjoy being active. It is one thing we don’t love about NYC because there are less opportunities to really get outdoors. Ok, really we are just beach bums in suits.

  • Megan @ The Skinny-Life
    March 10, 2014

    I completely relate to your biking fear! My ankle got caught in my bike chain as a teenager. I torn part of my tendon. I’ve tried to get back on a bike before, but freaked out each time. Now I stick to indoor cycling. Sometimes I believe we’re not meant to do certain things in life and bits best to follow our intuition.

  • Karen - Fit in France
    March 12, 2014

    I hate going downhill fast – whether it be on a bike or skiing. I think its that “out of control” feeling….

    • FitBritt
      March 12, 2014

      The weird thing is that I’ve been skiing my whole life and am totally fine with the downhill in that context. Maybe it’s because I feel like I can control my body more when I don’t have a big bike in the way. I don’t know but it is definitely a control thing like you pointed out Karen.

  • Nellie @ Brooklyn Active Mama
    March 13, 2014

    Yay Britt!! I have a lot of fears and I swear I am such a wuss. Congratulations to you for tackling yours! Mountain biking terrifies me plenty–I’m not even all the way comfortable with plain road biking lol.

  • Holly
    March 14, 2014

    Britt, I love this post. I have read it repeatedly. Thank you for putting a perspective on ” fear.” I have no questions or suggestions – just fears to face! Aka Holly

  • Catherine Gacad
    March 17, 2014

    you do such fun athletic adventures. i love looking at where you go through your words and pictures. i have a fear of swimming/drowning out in the middle of nowhere. it’s a legitimate fear because i can’t swim and because i’ve had two close calls in life (thank God for lifeguards!).

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