On Saturday I’m about to take on a challenge and I know that I haven’t really got a clue what I’m doing. I’ll be attempting to cycle London to Paris in 24 hours on a borrowed road bike which I’ve ridden 5 times. I’m not a cyclist by any stretch of the imagination and I am distinctly underprepared. I’m not even harbouring under the pre-tense that ignorance is bliss, the not knowing what’s to come terrifies me and has been keeping me awake at night for the last two weeks.
Why take on a tough challenge?
Some say, why sign yourself up for a challenge when you don’t know how to do it? I say, why not? Realistic worst case scenarios are that I won’t be fast enough to catch the ferry from Newhaven, that I fall off and really hurt myself or that I really don’t enjoy it and get injured.
Alternatively, I could bloody love it. I’ll get a weekend away, attempting to travel through my own power and ever-improving skill to get myself from one country to another. I’ll get to meet new people who love the outdoors and adventure. There’s the opportunity here to have the adventure of a lifetime and create memories to cherish forever, all I have to do is take it.
I’ve been literally stunned by the negativity around me doing the ride. Too many people to be recall have responded with negative comments about it being “a big ask for a non-cyclist”, “sooooo hard”, “difficult to change your legs between the two” (when responding to the fact I ran the London Marathon 10 days ago.)
All this negativity has got me thinking, what could we all achieve if we got out of our own way? Instead of saying no and working through worst case scenarios we could instead say “yes”. Why do women say no to new opportunities more than men? In a world where integrity means everything, are we holding ourselves back through fear of holding ourselves out to have skills we don’t have? Or do we have the skills but think we aren’t good enough? Perhaps we have imposter syndrome? And if so, what is that we are worried about? About being a beginner? Or worried about failure? And more importantly, what can we do to change it?
I’ve shared a few of my tips of how we can try to get out there a bit more.
Get out of your own way
Firstly, we need to get out of our own way. In doing so we need to realise that nobody else is actually taking any notice about what anyone else is doing. However, if they were, they sure as hell wouldn’t ever remember you if you stay at home on your sofa too scared to live life. Once we realise that everyone else is so busy living their own lives to worry about what you’re doing it all becomes much easier.
Say Yes More
Secondly, we need to say yes. Yes to every opportunity that comes our way. In fact more than that we need to get comfortable being uncomfortable, throw ourselves off the cliff and learn to fly on the way down. Do you know what, I’ve got all the quotes and bags of passion behind them because I’ve had some of the most incredible and completely life altering experiences by putting myself out there. By booking the trip even though I was going alone, by turning up at events without knowing anyone and by being a beginner.
Ask for help
Thirdly, we need to learn to ask for help. You’re only an imposter if you hold yourself out to be. I deliberately haven’t bought all of the gear for the cycling trip, largely because it makes me feel a little awkward and I just want to wear the clothes I’m comfortable in but mostly so that people do not make assumptions. You guessed it I’m thinking, “all the gear and no idea”. I have been pretty open about my lack of knowledge about cycling and whilst I know people will judge that and think that they would never embark on a challenge without more experience, I’ve found that one of the fastest ways to learn is by doing something. You often learn even faster by making mistakes.
In life we rarely get second chances, one day I may not be able to do this, today is not that day.
You can follow live updates of my attempt to cycle London to Paris via Twitter and Instagram @lucy_fitness. When I say live I mean I’ll post at the rest stops, I’m still way too scared to take my hands off the handle bars for too long to film!