So I’ve been well and truly out of my comfort zone recently.
Some of you know that I accompanied my hubby and his friend Tony as ‘the back-up team’ on a 1000km bicycle ride around South West Australia in June, raising money for Solaris Cancer Care and Lift the Lid on Mental Health.
I put my hand up for it in good grace, and then realised it was going to be two weeks out of my life, at the beck and call of two men with smelly bike clothes, and possibly cranky attitudes (think dealing with 50km headwinds and road trains for starters).
Don’t get me wrong, I was never Not Going To Do It! To help raise money for two worthy causes was reason enough to get up out of my computer chair and out on the road.
It wasn’t clear where we would be staying at night, and to begin with the route was kind of fluid. There were no clear parameters as to what my job would be except that I would be chief provider of food and sandwiches when required, team mediator, social media maven, and if possible all round good egg.
I’d also be driving long distances alone and meeting up with Dave and Tony along the road at designated places, as well as either picking them up or dropping them off at specified spots on the map.
Sometimes, I might add, I found that those places were really remote, and a little ‘where’s the banjo playing’ scary.
What had I let myself in for?
In the week leading up to the bicycle trek I was particularly bad tempered. As a woman over 50 I thought, “well, I’m entitled to be!” (But of course not really!)
“What no room for a hairdryer? A stuff bag with all my clothes – is that it? Who am I going to talk to? What if I miss you guys along the way and there’s no cellphone reception – what then?” (There wasn’t reception for a lot of the time, which made me understand how remote some parts of SWA still are).
I realised I was cranky because I was also a bit scared and a little worried about the responsibility too. I was in no doubt that I was being forced out of my comfort zone.
As we pass the age of 50 we do start becoming set in our ways, don’t we? Even if we promised ourselves we never would.
You know, we grow accustomed to the bed we sleep in, we like our routines, we know what we like to eat and when, and we like that we can choose how and when to exercise.
On the bicycle trek we slept in different beds nearly every night, we stayed in (very hospitable) strangers’ houses, we ate what was offered or what I could keep in our small Esky, we made last minute arrangements to find a place to stay cheaply when plans had to change due to route adjustments, we made decisions on the run, and lived out of the boot of a car.
Oh and my exercise routine went to pot while the men just got super fit! As a woman over 50 I have to watch the force of gravity doesn’t get the better of me completely!
When I got home I almost kissed the floor so pleased was I to get back to knowing where everything was in the house and having everything to hand, all nice and ordered!
Along the route I had to keep myself busy, even if I was sitting at the side of the road waiting for the men to catch up, or waiting for them to get ahead of me. Often I was in the middle of nowhere with minimal support or facilities, still trying to keep up with my blogging and social media commitments.
I learnt how to focus and type on my laptop in the car, then hook up to my phone’s mobile internet (if available) as soon as we stopped for the night. I quickly learnt the lay of the land and explored regional towns as soon as I arrived, in the time I had available, trying to do my kegel exercises and hold my tummy in as I walked!
All of this kind of stuff is good for you when you’re over 50, because …
- It forces you to open up to people.
- It disarms you.
- It makes you more adaptable.
- It takes your mind off the petty issues and worries you have at home.
- It makes you realise you can live your life a different way.
- You stop being so cosy, and get comfortable being uncomfortable.
- You learn new things.
- Best of all you make new friends.
We made so many new friends, and had fun evenings with people we’d never met before in our lives. We stayed with fellow Rotarians along the way and they were all just lovely – taking the time to feed us and entertain us and even do our washing.
Then there were the funny times too – I was parked up in Gnowangerup close to an old hotel which at the time wasn’t open, and everything in the town was closed. Everybody seemed to have left town.
There I was all alone, and this group of ‘bikies’ roared up on their black motorbikes, and I wondered if I would live to tell the tale.
Cautiously I locked the doors and stuck my nose in a book hoping that Dave and Tony would arrive soon. When they did arrive, Tony grabbed the Collection Tin and said, “I’m going to go and ask them to donate!”
He did, and they did!
In fact they were friendly – which proved to me that I had been wrong to judge on preconceived notions.
Yes, it’s good to take the plunge, not think things through too hard and jump out of your comfort zone every now and then.
You can read my journals and see photos from our trip in the eBook Dave created here :
1000 km Bicycle Challenge Diary
Or if you’d like to donate to the cause we’d love it! Here on GoFundMe 1000km bicycle ride for charity
What was the last time you were out of your comfort zone?