Feeling Flat by Deirdre Maloney

September 30, 2020

Cycling reduces my stress. I get to hop on, pound it out on the pedals, and feel accomplished on many levels. Exercise? Done. Self-care? Done. Discipline? Check! Boom! It’s my recipe for a great day.

Except it didn’t quite go down that way on one late August afternoon. I had driven out to Collingwood to hit some hill repeats on Scenic Caves. It’s a great 2 km climb with an average 9% grade. Ontario’s finest climb and I were going to do some great strength work together.

I parked my van, put on my gear, and headed out for a good warm-up. An hour into the ride, I was making my way to the base of the climb when I heard, “Pop!” I’d blown a tire. No worries here though, I had my tool bag stocked with everything I needed to change it. I hadn’t changed a tire in over three years, though, so I knew it would go slow. In the last year, I may have had two flats, but my husband was with me and can definitely change them quicker, so I left it to him. Then the two years prior, I was off due to pregnancy and caring for a new baby. Making my time on the bike very minimal, with no flats.

In previous years, I had only changed two on my own; I really didn’t have a ton of experience. I got the wheel off and then sat on the ground and struggled with the tire for a good 15 minutes before it came off. I got through the next steps quite smoothly until I had to use the air canister. I screwed the valve in, and it started hissing. I tried to get the air into the tube, but it quickly whistled away everywhere, and I was still left with a flat tire. I hadn’t screwed them together tight enough and was thoroughly frustrated. Thirty minutes of battle on the side of the road, and I was defeated.

Luckily, my van was 300 m away. I got the wheel back on my bike and started walking. My mood began to deflate, and I started picking on myself. Completely triggered, I began looking for facts in my memory bank to back up how I felt about myself. You are the team captain and founder of a cycling team, and you can’t even change a tire? Waste of a day. You ate a huge breakfast to train, now those are empty calories. Which turns into, you need to lose weight. Let’s go on a diet. You need to workout more. Blah, blah, blah. I went into a complete negative downward spiral in my mental state. Now, knowing I have a lot going on in my life with getting my book ready to publish and working on a cookbook, it was obvious that I had been triggered. I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself, and the flat tire was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Needing to get home to the kids, I didn’t have time to go to a bike store to pump up the tire, so I just packed it up and called it a day. As I drove home, I listened to an uplifting book to distract my negative thoughts and realign myself into a feel-good place.

Upon arriving home, I did a meditation to help turn things around. Then I hit the gym in the basement to do a leg workout and listen to my favourite music. Both of these activities helped a bit, but there was still a sadness looming. The thoughts of not being enough were still there.

After the workout, I hit the hot tub for one last go at changing my mood. I sat back and went over the day’s events in my mind. Why am I being so hard on myself about this? Then it hits me: Love. I need to mother myself. Grinding away week after week, applying pressure to move forward with all of my goals, I’d hit a breaking point. While pushing goals along, there are always insecurities involved. That vulnerability can bring us to our knees before it carries us into our purpose.

Earlier in the day, I was looking for reasons to validate why I wasn’t enough. It was time to change that to finding reasons why I was amazing. I reminded myself that I have experienced many traumas in my life; of course, I was going to feel not enough at times. Be gentle, be compassionate, and wrap your loving arms around yourself as you wished others had in the past. You get to take care of yourself now. You are capable of nurturing yourself: everything you need is inside of you.

So I couldn’t change a tire, I can now after this ordeal – I learned the hard way. I can run a badass women’s team. I also never imagined I would gain this much fitness back after two years off. Yet I did, and there is room to grow. Yes, fill myself up, not tear myself down! Life is hard enough as it is, why make it harder?

I wrote this as a reminder to us all that perspective is everything. We can view our world through many lenses. We choose which one we pick up. If you ever start looking for reasons to validate why you’re not good enough, try switching it around to why you are. Oh, and you can be sure I threw a pump into the trunk of my car when I got
home as well!

Earlier I mentioned that I have a book coming out, October 2020! Ten percent of the profits will go to the team. This is true for the cookbook as well. I’m looking forward to sharing that with you all. Find more details at TheUnfoldingProject.com.

Photo Credits: Jody Wilson Photography