Good Feeling

So how do you hold on to the Good Feeling? I’m a huge MotoGP fan, and when you see the riders getting interviewed after a race they often talk, in their endearing English As A Second Language way, about their Good Feeling.

"The bike gave me a good feeling today," they’ll say if the race went well. And then I snigger, coz I’m sure I’d have a bloody good feeling too, if I was straddling a gigantic vibrating motorcycle! But if things go bad, they will say, "I could not find a good feeling with the bike."

They’re talking about the harmony between man and machine. What’s this got to do with anything? Well, if you say hypothetically my brain is Valentino Rossi and my body is a motorcycle, then it’s clear we’re not having our best season. It’s that elusive mind/body connection I was talking about last month. I still haven’t quite got it back!

The last time I truly felt the Good Feeling was back in Chicago in July. I’d just finished the first round of book edits and was so happy with how it turned out and with the message I’d put across. I felt this lovely peace with everything. It was like there were dozens of those dinky tealight candles, racked along on my ribs, so I was just glowing glowing glowing from within.

But ever since various things… mostly my own sabotaging brain… have chipped away at the ol’ confidence a bit. Do not fear, scale-watchers! I’ve not stacked it back on. It’s just that a little black cloud has been loitering like a seagull outside a chip shop.

The other day I went out for a bike ride ON THE ROAD. Analogue bike, that is. I’d never ridden a bicycle on a road before. I grew up on a farm so it was all rattling over gum leaves and sheep shit. After a year of adult bicycle ownership I thought it was time to venture beyond cycle tracks and illegal footpaths, so I got Gareth to take me around the road loop he does a few times a week. I felt a grim determination about the task. I wanted to come back to the blog and report my triumph and be all positive and light and endorphin-ed, like I always do after these new sporty forays… mind and body hooked up again. Instead of clicking New Post and staring at the blank space for an hour.

The ride was bloody terrifying! Especially because I don’t have any road sense. I’ve driven a car once in the past 4.5 years, so I’m rusty on road skills and peripheral vision. Gareth pedalled along behind me on a lazy country road, and yelled out when a car was coming. I would shake my head vigorously in denial, as if that would make them go away! I could barely pedal, my quads were so ridiculously tense.

Somehow we made it to the Big Mother Roundabout with all the buses and trucks hurtling along towards Glasgow. I froze in terror and pulled over, feeling angry tears catch in my throat. It was like that Yoga Incident a couple months ago, where my physical fear and crapness felt like a metaphor for everything else I’d been crap at lately. But after glaring at some trees for ten minutes I got back on, approached the roundabout and made the shakiest hand signal ever and arooooond we went. DUDES, MY HAND WAS OFF THE HANDLEBAR FOR A WHOLE TEN SECONDS. I can’t believe it took me a year to get up the nerve to do that. Mwahaha.

Then I pedalled painfully slowly through a wee village that was far busier than should be legal on a Sunday. Why do people insist on not only driving cars , but parking them and getting in and out of them and flapping their big scary doors!? My teeth were chattering with terror, but then I got the giggles at how I was too knackered to pedal any faster to get out of this situation any quicker.

Finally I made another hand signal – this one more of a limp flash of a Hitler salute – and we were back on a country road. Oh my leggggs. They had nothing left to give! I had to get off and walk for the second last hill. Gareth reassured me he didn’t make it either earlier in the year, when he’d put on a slight Winter Coat of lard over Christmas, stillI couldn’t help feeling annoyed.

But then we got to the last hill, and I recognised it right away. The same "XTREME" hill I was too terrifed to ride down in February; the same hill I failed to pedal up! It looked so hilariously tiny now. I huffed and I puffed but I got to the top, no worries!

We finally got back home after 1hr 20mins – Gareth usually does it in 45mins, the shapely bastard. I curled up on the couch to listen to my muscles sing. The exercise hadn’t brought on the Good Feeling; I’ll be honest… but I suddenly felt okay about not feeling the Good Feeling.

I’ve been very negative recently, thinking that I should be cool with all the Big Changes in my life by now. I worried that I’d never shake it and find my way back again. But the highs and lows of that little bike trip made me see where I’ve been going wrong. It’s impossible to see the way forward if you’re too busy beating yourself up. It’s not a failure of character if you dare to feel a bit lost and incompetent. Sometimes life gets challenging and things are plain uncomfortable for a sustained period. The Good Feeling is harder to come by, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never find it again! I keep thinking of that dinky little hill that seemed so impossible six months ago, and remember that I’ve been here before. I’ll be back up to fullhorsepowers soon enough. Vrooooooom!

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35 thoughts on “Good Feeling

  1. Well done for riding on the road.
    You are an inspiration to me again.. and again.. and again..
    Cheers
    x

  2. Good on you Shauna, you are such an inspiration. I really admire the way you conquer your fears.

  3. Ditto to the other posters. I think maybe sometimes you don’t realize how much you inspire all of us.
    You admit your fears, you meet them head on, you show it’s okay to show a little vulnerability, and then, damn if you don’t rise above your fears, and conquer them.
    At the risk of sounding like a scary internet stalker, you have my utmost admiration – not for being perfect, but for being real.

  4. I used to commute by bike to uni in glasgow. All I can say is that Scottish people are the worst drivers for flinging their car doors open in front of your face and driving too close to you while making hand gestures and yelling at you for being on a bike. They made me so aggressive that I started yelling back. Now that I’m back in Canada I’m starting to get back my good bike feeling.

  5. A WHOLE ten seconds? Man, you beat my record.

    I am seriously proud of you for a numebr of things.

    – Riding in the first damn place

    – Breathing deep and attacking that roundabout

    – Managing to manouver around the door opening cars with no injuries

    – Climing the extreme hill

    – listening and appreciating your singing muscles at the end of your ride.

    Mate, if that isnt acheivement, tell me what is.

    You are fantastic in my eyes.

    xox

  6. Shauna, you are very inspirational and honest about your journey. Too many times you read these stories about people who lose weight and everything’s peaches and cream and they defy gravity and all sorts of unreal things.

    Life is messy and you admit that to the rest of us in a very honest, funny, descriptive way. I can’t even ride a bike so I’m very, very impressed with what you did. I’d be scared silly. And you saw the hill that had scared you and you saw the changes since then — that’s pretty positive and not many people could see it. But you did!

    (I’ve been told to get a three-wheeled cycle. I’m laughing at the thought of riding such as thing in Scotland after your description. πŸ™‚ )

  7. I had a similar Good Feeling the other week about riding up a bastard hill that had been Too Hard and was now just Hard.
    I ride my bike a lot and I’m really experienced in traffic and I tell you what mate, busy roundabouts are SCARY!! well done for negotiating it!
    As for Dr G’s zoominess, remember slow IS the new fast πŸ™‚

  8. OMG – it’s contagious! You’ve gone and caught what I had all winter.
    πŸ™
    Who knew you could transmit this stuff via the internet? I’ll don a mask and wash my hands with Dettol in future before I go near the computer.

    Nice work on the road ride – the first time is crap-your-pants scary, alright. There should be a bravery medal awarded for it.

  9. You are a braver girl than me – I fall off at the approach of motor vehicles! Hope you get your good feeling back soon.

  10. Ba-hah!

    It’s impossible to see the way forward if you’re too busy beating yourself up. It’s not a failure of character if you dare to feel a bit lost and incompetent.

    Oh man. I think I may write this down and give it to next year’s first-semester grad students.

    YOU WILL HATE YOUR LIFE AND SCHOOL! But okay maybe a little less if you look at this on your fridge! Now go read 80 more articles!

  11. Oh, that was a bit of a tear jerker! Maybe it’s my hormones?! Maybe because I am going to be moving back home after five long months. And it’s been a rollercoaster all the way.

    You write so beautifully, DG; you really do.

    And as for the cycling; way to go!!! Seriously impressive. As always!!!!!

    Big kiss.

    Mrs Lxxx

  12. “It’s impossible to see the way forward if you’re too busy beating yourself up. It’s not a failure of character if you dare to feel a bit lost and incompetent. Sometimes life gets challenging and things are plain uncomfortable for a sustained period. The Good Feeling is harder to come by, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never find it again!”

    That was just what I needed to read this morning. Thanks for your honesty and insight.

  13. I’ve returned to bike riding myself this year, and I so totally relate to what you’ve been saying. Getting the courage up to take my hand off the handle bars, being able to ride on the roads, managing hills – it’s all part of the journey. I’m riding to work regularly now. It’s only 5 km but it’s a hilly 5 km. Even better, it’s a hilly 5 km that I couldn’t have contemplated attempting this time last year.

    Good on you for facing your fears and overcoming them.

  14. I am laughing so hard at your description of the ride. I was stunned that it was only an hour and 20 minutes – for all that suffering, it seemed like at least three hours, just reading about it!

    I don’t like to gush, but I have to tell you that your last paragraph is brilliant – everyone should print that out and hang it on the wall in a frame. “It’s not a failure of character if you dare to feel a bit lost and incompetent.” We WLers can be awfully hard on ourselves sometimes.

  15. Well done you. I cycle quite happily around London so find it really hard to appreciate what it must be like to be nervous on a bike – your writing really brings it alive. As with so many things in life it really is matter of confidence – do it tentatively and you’ll wobble/falloff/not make it up the hill. Do it with bravado and it will all come together.

    Oh, and your boy sounds like a wonderful, wonderful man. Lucky you.

  16. I hate those workouts where I feel defeated before I even start. I spend the whole time whining and being terrified, so I don’t give it my all. Then at the end I whine even more and feel guilty because I didn’t really try.

    But man, when something new works, it really works!

  17. I really need to learn to be more in touch with myself like that. I have no connection whatsoever with my feelings, so I can’t control them. You’ve come a long way if you can look at yourself like that and analyze your feelings.

  18. Thanks for the giggle and inspiration today. It’s nice to hear that little things stress out other people, too. I don’t feel like quite the weirdo.

  19. don’t feel bad! i once fell off my bike at a traffic light when someone asked me for directions. i was already stationary at the time!! the reason? i forgot i was riding a men’s bike, and so got my leg caught on the bar in the middle…

  20. Thanks for this post. I haven’t been having much of a “good feeling” lately, either. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone in that. I know that “good feeling” will return… hopefully sooner than later!

  21. Hey Shauna,

    I’m sure you get this all the time, but you have inspired me to keep an online journal…a little blog all my own. So I thought I’d share it with my blogging hero (now, stop the blushing you).

    So check it out…it’s not the smartest writing, but it’s mine:

    link to notafatoperasinger.blogspot.com

    Cheers,
    -Becca

  22. Well done on the bike ride! I too and fighting with the hills at the moment in an endeavour to complete a 40k ride. Just a quick note to say big ups for continuing the journey,,I’ve been doing the weight loss thing for three years now…slow..slow..slow. You still give me inspiration to keep going. Thanks:)

  23. I’m sorry you haven’t had that good feeling lately but you know, as Billy Crystal says, β€œit’s not how you feel, it’s how you look – and you look MARRRVELOUS!!!”

    I love hearing about how you conquer your fears and get out there. I used to ride my bike into work but spent too many days shaking in my shoes because some crazy driver tried to run me off the road. I love biking at our weekend place in the north country but can’t take the stress of riding in the big city.

    I hope you get that good feeling back soon.

  24. Well done! That’s a big step, I’m proud of you πŸ™‚

    And truly, bike riding is the answer to all of life’s problems…

  25. A big roundabout within the first ten minutes… I might’ve gone home at that point. I hate roundabouts.

    Well done you! I’m pretty used to biking on the road by now, but it is always a bit terrifying after a break. But it does get better.

    I have the same problem with the Fast Husband, though (does G complain you make him miss the lights?)

  26. I’ve ridden a bicycle on city streets in the U.S. for twenty years and have had some pretty scary experiences, but for the most part it’s proven to be a great way of getting around.

    That being said, I think bike travel in the U.S., for all its dangers, is vastly safer than in the U.K. Last year I did a 90-mile walking tour of the Cotswolds and every time the map steered me onto a local road for a mile or two my heart would begin to race and I’d strain my ears for the sound of a motor. Apparently the speed limit on rural English roads is forty-gazillion kilometers per hour. And since the roads are generally wide enough to make ample passage for nothing larger than a Mini, they are not meant to be shared with anything else that’s not on four wheels.

    I absolutely adored the journey I took last year. But I wouldn’t ride a bike in the Cotswolds for a million pounds. At least when I was walking and a huge lorry would come barrelling around the bend I could dive into the stinging nettles by the side of the road to save my life.

    If roads in Scotland are anything like those further south, my hat is off to you and Gareth. All the same, you might want to take out a little insurance!

    -J

  27. Oh, well done! Very inspiring. I think one of the hardest things about changing the way you live is facing things you really and truly think you “can’t” do. Way to prove yourself wrong! You might not have gotten the Good Feeling about it, but you Did It. πŸ™‚

    As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” I love that quote because it sums up for me the last year of my life! And eventually the Good Feeling will return, but meanwhile you’ve kept soldiering on despite the lack of it. You can’t get much tougher than that!

  28. Now this is what I love so bloody much about you Shaunster, you always manage to articulate the unarcticulatable (yes it bloody well is so a word.. ok it’s not but that just further illustrates my point!!) nastiness that swamps as all at one time or another.

    In other words, if it makes you feel any better at all, you are not at all alone in chasing the Good Feeling and freaking out at the Big Changes.

  29. I took a lone bike trip in Scotland in 2003. The roundabouts very nearly killed me! I hated them, but the rest of the trip (300+ miles in 10 days or so) was lovely.