When people say 'brave', what does it actually mean?
Bravery can be used for incredible achievements but it can also be disguised in the every day.
At Rapha, we have organised #BraverThanTheElements - a campaign to get women all over the world to ride on one day (12.12.15) and face up to the weather together. London is particularly wet and windy at the moment so I was more than keen for an excuse to face it with some of my best pals.
At 0700 this morning, as I ate my over sized bowl of porridge worrying about whether I had deployed the correct layer tactics, I began to consider 'bravery'. I'd heard the term in work a lot recently (relating to this campaign) and so decided to truly consider its meaning.
I soon found out that we're all brave... a lot more than we realise.
By no means an exhausted list, here is where I found bravery hiding on our #BraverThanTheElements ride today:
1. Bravery to commit
We very quickly become nervous about a ride and forget that the act of committing to an event which could be tough, with people who could be faster, is very brave in itself.
2. Bravery to turn up
When you wake up on a Saturday morning and it's freezing outside, some people would call getting up to ride silly, I call it brave.
3. Bravery to board the train
None of us had got the train to Chalfont & Latimer before. Travelling somewhere completely new and unknown? I sense bravery.
4. Bravery to clip in and out
No matter how many times you do it, clipping in half way up a hill is brave.
5. Bravery to tackle a hill
Gem, ride leader, had thrown in a few hills including a 13% gradient. The hardest hills are the ones you can't mentally prepare for. Not knowing where the top is but still pedalling it out? BRAVE.
6. Bravery to descend
The weather was wet and windy and so the descents had been fed a large dose of danger. Riding down a hill is, of course, invigorating but it's also nerve wracking. My gloves meant I was struggling to control the breaks as well as one would like. When we reached the bottom, some of the other women had the same issue. To continue on till the end knowing there were going to be a lot more descents is bravery.
7. Bravery to keep going when you don't have a garmin
When other people lead and you don't have a garmin, you are riding blind. I'm not the best at managing my mind when I can't manage the time. Bravery is pedalling on mile after mile not knowing how far or tough the rest of the ride will be.
8. Bravery to sit on someone's wheel
My 'flanders facial' was evidence that I sucked a lot of wheel today. But in this weather, that comes with a lot more risk than your usual 'Take your turn on the front KPP' risk. You can't always see the hazards, there's more sudden movements to combat the wind and the lack of mud guards (me being the main culprit) meant visibility was reduced. Cyclists continue to ride fast and ride close. Cyclists are therefore brave.
9. Bravery to ride off road
A few weeks ago, I'd have probably bowed out of the ride ungracefully as soon as I was aware of the one way bumpy country roads. A few hours in we had our first taster of cyclo-cross and my heart felt like it was beating out of my chest with levels of adrenaline only cycling through mud and potholes on a road bike can bring. It's easy to see that heightened emotion as fear, but it's better to see it as bravery.
10. Bravery to get back on the bike after a stop
After a wonderful little coffee and cake filled stop at the Twit Cafe (based in the Roald Dahl Musuem), we had to re-apply the wet layers and mount our bikes back to the station. Our minds were aware of the weather waiting for us and the roads and distance between us and a hot shower. Yet we do it anyway. Because we, if you hadn't got the pattern of this list, are brave ass people.
During the train journey from Marylebone (our meeting point) to Chalfont & Latimer (our ride start point), the group discussed a lot about the sport we love; from physical challenges to emotional challenges, we've sure experienced a lot in the saddle.
It may sometimes be disguised as other emotions, but we're all brave.
Because we get up and ride again. Despite these demons, the fear of not being good enough and the 101 reasons not to, we choose to be brave not to be average.