Usually, I ride on my own or with my partner, but we recently decided to do some training, and were offered a tour afterwards.
I know, I know – ‘ride your own ride;’ very true, and I keep telling myself that but at the same time, I am so anxious about that upcoming tour. Most riders there will be guys who have so many more years of experience and better riding skills, and I really don’t want to be that slow, clumsy rider who everyone has to wait for!
Congrats on being asked to join the tour after your training! Sounds like the instructor felt you were ready for the challenge. Now that you’re contemplating going, it’s important to separate the voices telling you “I’m not as good as they are” from the “Uh-oh, they really can handle things I’m not up to yet” ones, as well as the very real “I’m not used to riding with more than my partner” one. With all that chatter going on inside your head it’s no wonder you’re feeling anxious!
Breaking it into parts, start with the newest challenge first: riding with others. Given that this is a new experience, what are you doing to prepare? What’re the expectations for staying together and keeping up versus riding at your own pace? Have you shared your concerns with the tour operator to understand the ground rules, and if so, are you comfortable with them, even if only in theory at this point? Will the leader go over group riding protocols, and is there an exit strategy if it turns out not to be what you expected? How does the leader handle riders who may struggle to keep up, for whatever reason? Finally, are you and your partner on the same page regarding handling anything that arises for either one of you in this unfamiliar situation?
You are making an assumption that the rest of the group has more experience and are better riders than you. Is that based on seeing them ride, information from the instructor, or your own assumptions that because they have been riding longer they must be better? Many riders have lots of years without having grown their skills, and you could be pleasantly surprise by how you fit in once you let go of the comparisons. If it turns out you are the most novice rider, are you comfortable watching and learning from the others instead of focusing on what you don’t know?
It’s important to evaluate the voices in your head realistically. Do you believe you have the capability to tackle what you will be asked to do on the trip? Yes, it’s possible the others are more experienced, but does the route demand that level of competence to successfully complete it or will it instead be a chance for you to grow not only your riding skills but your confidence in new situations? If, after careful consideration you really don’t feel ready, then are you willing to speak up and instead work on building your skills for the next opportunity?
If it’s your nerves speaking, and not your gut, then practice finding room in your saddlebags for your chattering voices; they can tag along as long as you don’t let them steer the bike. Yes, you may start off as the one who needs a bit more time, but you may also be the one who leaves the others in the dust once you figure it all out.