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All in the mind with Karen Ramsay

This entry is part 15 of 17 in the series Adventure Rider Issue #23

Karen Ramsay goes a bit mental.

We get defeated by ourselves, not the track.

First things first: I didn’t realise people were actually reading any-thing I wrote until a stranger told me they were slightly shocked my kids hadn’t been taken into care after leaving them at home while husband Dave and I were out riding all the time.

Then, recently someone was asking about the kids and was surprised to hear they’d all left home (I like to think it’s because we don’t look old enough to have adult children).

Yep, that’s right. We’re empty nesters.

The girls moved out over the past couple of years. Son Darcy got tired of being left at home to do all the chores so he moved out too. Fortunately he moved not too far away, so we were able to call on him to help move cattle to high ground away from flooding after Cyclone Debbie.

And if he thought living independently meant no more fixing mum and dad’s bikes, he was mistaken. When the DR conked out on the way to work the other day, I didn’t call road-side assist (to recoup some of the money I’ve been paying them for years), I called Darcy. He was very obliging. He told me I need to be more responsible, loaded the bike on to his ute, dropped me at work, then worked on my bike during his lunch break.

Now our eldest, Tinonee, has headed off overseas for her own adventure. Funny, if it was anyone else’s daughter I’d be so excited for them, but it’s a completely different matter when it’s my own child. I guess it’ll be a good excuse to go over-seas and go riding…I mean visit her.

Is anxiety unique to inexperienced riders? Or do seasoned riders who haven’t ridden for a while feel it too?

Talk it up

With one thing and another I haven’t done much adventure riding for a while and, because of that, I’m beginning to get a bit nervous about my riding skills.

Even watching footage of people riding the type of stuff I’ve ridden a lot is making me apprehensive. I’m curious if it’s just something unique to people who haven’t been riding since they were young, or if seasoned riders who haven’t ridden for a while get anxious too?

One of the worst situations is when someone up ahead stops or appears to struggle. Instinctively I start thinking,‘If they’re having trouble, what hope to do I have?’ When I get there I already have it in my head that I’m not going to make it, so I just make a meal of it. The worst part is, it’s usually something that isn’t too hard anyway. A number of people I’ve spoken to have the same reaction. We get defeated by ourselves, not the track.

When I first started riding it was all over in an instant and I’d be mystified by how I could be riding along one minute then staring up at the sky the next. People would suggest I think through what had gone wrong and try to correct it next time. Well, I’m afraid I usually had no idea.

Now I can recognise and even correct some things, and if not, I have a fair idea of what went wrong. Once I thought falling was inevitable, now the running commentary in my head also includes, ‘You don’t have to fall.’

It’s helped me a few times.

Things can get iffy when someone ahead stops or appears to struggle.

Positive action

The most recent occurrence of this phenomenon was when I was coming down a washed-out track. I was relieved as I rode past a family with four little kids bushwalking on the track and kept it upright. Next thing I was riding on an ever-narrowing part of a washout.

I managed to yell out a reasonably tame expletive (apologies to the family) followed by, “I think I’ve picked the wrong line,” while also telling myself not to fall.

Somehow it worked. Not long before that though, I got off and walked the bike over an even easier washout because I saw Dave put his foot down as he went across it.

Hopefully I’ll be back out on the bike a bit more soon and I’ll be able to put all this positive self-talk into action and spend less time embarrassing myself.

Tell yourself, ‘I don’t have to fall’.

What I’ve learned

• The most significant riding skills are the ones in your head
• The cat doesn’t sneak into the drink cabinet when we’re not home
• Family are just a phone call away
• Some people are naturally fearless riders
• I’m not one of them

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