Conquering My Fear Of Biking The Great Allegheny Passage

Conquering My Fear Of Biking The Great Allegheny Passage

Good morning visitors to Campbell’s World! First, for those who do not know, our contributor is blind. The only reason I mention this, is so you understand the challenges she writes of, and their true context. I will post, as I receive. Thank you to our contributor as well as to our readers… 

Take it away! Penny…! 

Dear Patty,

I do hope you enjoy this There will be more to come in the series. I’m really enjoying your blogposts.

Conquering My Fear Of Biking The Great Allegheny Passage

Penny Fleckenstein

I knew it was going to be a long day. Zachary and I left our house at 7 A.M. July 7th to meet with Mark, the leader of our expedition and also the head of Mileposters at his house. Then to McDonald’s to meet with my friend Beth and her children. Beth is my captain for my tandem, and Hayden, Beth’s 15-year-old son, would captain a tandem starting with Zachary as a stoker. Later on, Mark would have 10-year-old Gabe go with Hayden in exchange for Zachary who is 7. Moriah stayed with Mark on the tripplet for the whole four days–123 miles.

The night before, my anxiety kicked into high gear. My mind raced faster than my body ever could. I thought up worst case scenarios–all the possibilities of things that could go wrong on the trip and things that could go wrong at home while I was gone. I felt fear gripping my body. Yikes! I had never accomplished 123 miles before and neither had Gabe, Moriah, or Zachary. I had to slow my breathing down, will my mind to relax, turn my thoughts around before I felt too terrified. The most miles I had ever ridden on a bike was 34. One time, I did 28 very difficult miles in the heat of the day with my backpack on. I did it with no sleep the night before. Our first day on the Great Allegheny Passage would be 33 miles, the 2nd day 27, the 3rd day 19 up a mountain, and the last day would be 44. Of these miles, 70 would be uphill. We had no support driver, so we had to pack light and handle all our luggage. Would I be strong enough to endure this bike trip? I was starting to lose confidence in myself. We’d been planning this trip since last year. Beth and I trained a lot on our own and we’d get together with Mark and the kids whenever we could. But would it be enough for the whole trip?

I thought back to all the training I had gone through, the different trails, the walking when we couldn’t bike, uphill and downhill. Then Beth and I heard stories of how Big Savage Mountain is and how challenging it is. We were told that rain was forecasted for three out of the four days. I felt so enthusiastic about traveling the Great Allegheny Passage with my dream to eventually do the CandO Canal and yet the spirit of fear held on to me. I had to “Shake It Off” as Taylor Swift advises. If I incrementalized, taking one day at a time, it didn’t feel so scary to me. Yes, I had done 34 miles in one day. Yes, I had done 28 miles with no sleep the night before. I changed my mindset. I wasn’t going on the Great Allegheny Passage to conquer a mountain or to help make a dream come true. We were going on a family vacation with thanks to the Challenged Athletes Foundation

I would be with Beth, one of my closest friends, and her children, and my son Zachary. We have in Mark a competent leader and good friend and Christian brother. Instead of having one day of bike riding, we would be blessed with four days. Four separate bike riding experiences! Four days of closeness and fun! When Zachary and I got picked up on the morning of July 7th, I was good to go.

Note: Look forward to several more postings about my trip on the Great Allegheny Passage from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, MD which we took from July 7th through July 10th. There’s just way too much to share in one blogpost. Thanks for being patient.

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