“What would you do if you were not afraid?” I asked myself.
The answer, I had to admit, was that I would ride my bike from Alaska to Argentina.
Trouble was – I WAS afraid. Terrified in fact. I was scared of the mountain passes higher than the highest peaks in Colorado. I was scared of the Patagonian winds so strong they would blow us off our bikes. I was scared of the searing heat of Central America and the bitter cold of the high Andes in winter. I was scared. More than scared – I was petrified.
Ride a BIKE the length of the Americas? That was crazy talk. That kind of journey was for real adventurers, not the likes of me. Only big strong men with muscles bulging from their calves could make such a journey. Not an ordinary wife, mother, and schoolteacher.
People agreed with me. Society agreed with me. Parents, with children, didn’t just hop on bikes and take off to explore the world. It wasn’t the way it was. It wasn’t what parents do.
I took comfort in that fact. The fact that “they” agreed it was foolishness to consider riding a bike from one end of the world to the other. Sheer craziness for sure.
But then I came back to that dream I was hiding within. I did my best to keep it hidden in the deepest recesses of my brain, but it somehow kept bubbling up. It invaded my consciousness when I let my mind wander. It called to me, beckoning me in. I resisted.
Then one day, I had one of those EUREKA moments.
One of those moments when you see, with amazing clarity, right smack dab through the middle of the problem. I realized I wasn’t afraid of the mountain passes or the winds or heat or cold; I was afraid of failure. I was afraid that I couldn’t handle those things and would fail.
Somehow, my perverted sense of avoidance had convinced me that it was better to not attempt at all rather than face failure. I didn’t want to face the agony of defeat or the humiliation of having to admit I had failed, so preferred to not even start.
But therein lies the crazy part of this. If I flew to Alaska and started cycling, I figured I had a 50/50 chance of failure. I had a 50% chance of failing to do what I set out to do. But a 50% chance of failure also means I had an equal chance of success.
When I looked at it in that way, it made no sense to try. It made absolutely no sense whatsoever to stay at home and not even give my dream a chance. Yes, I could fail. But I could succeed too.
The rest, as they say, is history. Together with my husband and children, I flew to Alaska, got on my bike, and my little family pedaled 17,300 miles through fifteen countries to reach Ushuaia, Argentina at the southern tip of South America. Our journey took us nearly three years.
We pedaled over passes higher than the highest peaks of Colorado and faced winds so strong they blew us off our bikes. We sweated in Central America and shivered in a winter storm in Wyoming. But we dealt with it and moved on.
We put one foot in front of the other, took it one day at a time, and slowly made progress toward our goal.
I marvel about it all now; about how it very nearly didn’t happen at all. I nearly allowed my fear of the possibility of failure keep us from our dream. I’m so glad I didn’t.
What are you afraid of? How can you overcome it? Do it now. You won’t regret it.
Nancy Sathre-Vogel is a long-time schoolteacher turned biker mom. After 21 years in the classroom, she and her husband decided they wanted more out of life and made the decision to grab life by the horns and live it on their own terms. Her sons, now age 14, have cycled a total of 27,000 miles and spent four years of their lives living on bikes. She has now come to the conclusion she's happiest in Boise, Idaho inspiring and encouraging others to live their dreams. You can find her at www.familyonbikes.org.
If you like this article please share it using the buttons below!