When Patty Chang Anker found herself in her 40s and still afraid of heights, water, and biking, she decided to do something about it. In her book Some Nerve: Lessons Learned While Becoming Brave, Patty recounts how she faced down myriad fears and how everyone can become braver, happier and stronger by facing theirs. Oprah.com called her journey “downright inspiring.”
Now’s your chance to join Patty in her #SomeNerve Challenge: training for the 2014 TD Five Boro Bike Tour. Check back here every month to read about her progress, follow her on Twitter @PattyChangAnker, and see what else she’s up to on her blog, Facing Forty Upside Down.
“You don’t know how to ride a bike?!”
Just about everyone I’d met as an adult–especially non-New Yorkers–would say this with the same look of surprise. I was used to it and had my litany of excuses ready to roll:
- I rode a one-speed with pedal brakes as a child in Canada, but then I moved to New York City and developed an acute fear of bike-jackings…
- I’ve never been good with machinery – “What does this thingy do?” has never ended well for me.
- I have a well-founded fear of accidents–I tried rollerblading in my 20s and crashed into a garbage can, tried biking in my 30s and ended up in a ditch.
But I didn’t want my two daughters to grow up unable to ride a bike. I wanted them to learn so my husband–a cyclist who hasn’t taken his bike out in years–could finally lead the kids on beautiful rides, and I… wait.
Wait for me!
After decades of staunchly defending my fear of bicycling, I realized I didn’t want to be left behind. So I signed my kids and myself up for Bike New York’s free bike education classes in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx – the same park I grew up not biking in – to change our lives for the better. Our hilarious, exhausting, rewarding experiences are part of the “Growing Up” chapter of my book (Some Nerve: Lessons Learned While Becoming Brave) about ordinary people facing a variety of everyday fears.
Bike New York’s introductory class is called Learn to Ride (there are separate sessions for kids and adults), but what we learned applied to so much more than just riding a bike: how to stay calm and regain balance after losing it (Pro tip: screaming doesn’t help.), how to conquer feeling out of control on a bike by learning the mechanics behind controlling a bike, how important focus is in overcoming obstacles, and, perhaps most enlightening for a worrywart: how to let go, be in the moment, and enjoy the feeling of the wind in your hair. It was empowering in every way.
Yes, it’s 40 miles, which is 40 miles more than I’ve ever ridden on a bike. Yes, it’s through the streets of NYC, and the thought of a single pothole gives me palpitations and cold sweats. Yes, it’s only 4 months away. But Bike New York believes that if I take their classes and put in some training time, I will be more than ready come May 4th. And if I can do it, anyone can.
That’s where you come in.
Will you register on January 14th, starting at noon EST, for the TD Five Boro Bike Tour? Do you have a sibling, spouse, or friend who is scared to bike but could take this leap with us?
My husband is so excited to share this day with me that he bought me a whole new bike outfit. Do the same for your friends. Buy them a water bottle. Sign up for Bike New York’s free bike education classes. (I’m taking Bicycling Basics next.) Promise to bake your friend a cake when she completes the Tour. Everyone who’s afraid to join a party secretly wants to be asked to jump in. Especially if there’s cake involved.
Bookmark this blog, forward the link to your friends, and check back monthly to see how my training is going. Send me your stories and join Team #SomeNerve in making 2014 a year of telling fear to get lost. I’ll see you on May 4th.
#TDFBBT #SomeNerve #BikeNYC