The Bike Race That Made Me Show Up For Myself

By Jessica McWhirt

At the lip of the hill, I imagined plummeting to my paralysis, slamming my face against toothed rocks, breaking my neck, and wrapping my body around a tree trunk.

At the lip of the hill, I imagined plummeting to my paralysis, slamming my face against toothed rocks, breaking my neck, and wrapping my body around a tree trunk.

My fingers curled in agony from white-knuckling the handlebars out of a false sense of security. I was good at gripping — to ideas, beliefs, insecurities, regrets, mistakes, and especially brakes.

I knew it would’ve been easier to let go, to relax my upper body, and let the bike navigate downhill. Men flew past me, hauling 30 mph as if giant boulders didn’t stand in their way. How can they do it? I thought.

They didn’t allow the jagged rocks, the slimy roots, the crooked branches, and the 30% descent stop them.

As I crept down a sandy doubletrack, I ruminated on leaving Dublin seven years ago after earning a Master’s in International Security and Conflict. Too scared to try to get a working Visa and apply to government jobs as a non-citizen, I assumed I never had a chance. Constant rain, soggy socks, drowsy overcast, and pints of cider didn’t help. Instead, I crawled back to a job I hated in Colorado, believing the only thing that mattered was making money.

And when I emailed my old boss, nearly begging for my old job back, it felt like I swallowed my heart. It beat against my stomach as I clicked “send.” Three government internships, Peace Corps application, hundreds of volunteer hours, networking events, everything I thought I had to do to get a job in the government was never enough.

“You just need something that pays the bills,” my mother would say.

What I needed was to feel alive.

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https://medium.com/inspired-writer/the-bike-race-that-made-me-show-up-for-myself-5e11bc6c0f4d

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