I am afraid of bicycle lanes. So I hired a bicycle instructor. - New York Times

2021-11-22 09:11:15 By : Mr. David Wong

A nasty crash instilled a phobia of bollards. I called the bike whisperer.

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There was a time when I liked to ride the Hudson River Bike Path, but the metal bollards dotted on the trail made me scared. If you want to know when this dark horror took root, I can tell you exactly: When I hit my bicycle against a metal obstacle, my wrist broke in five places. Some time later—after colliding with a concrete guardrail in Jersey—I reluctantly abandoned the Hudson River Bike Path. My once laid-back trail became an obstacle course. When you are in the health insurance zone, a fall is a serious matter.

Of course, the great thing about New York is that there is no phobia that you cannot find a therapist. My first was a coach named Lance (really) who made a set of Styrofoam bollards for me. I am absolutely not afraid of bumping into Styrofoam. Unfortunately, after the first class, Lance was unable to attend class.

Regardless of. There is no shortage of personal bike coaches. An online search found a promising person, but the cost of her 90-minute course was a staggering $475. I quickly turned to Andrée Sanders, who claimed to be a bike whisperer. Her students include those with "personal challenges": people who were traumatized when trying to learn to ride a horse as a child; riders who were frightened by New York City traffic and crowded bike lanes; older bikers who were worried about falling; The person hit by the bus. She has never met a client who is as fearful as I am, but she thinks she can help. Her fee is $200.

I met 57-year-old Andre in a quiet place in Riverside Park. She brought me a hybrid bike with tires twice as wide as my 22-year-old sporty Terry road bike. The first thing she did was to check my posture and tell me to relax and open my shoulders.

Andre said that when you ride a bicycle, you will open your heart to the world. This is a little weird to me, but when she explained it, I understood: You want your shoulders to exceed your hips, so your center of gravity will drop to the bottom of the bike. This will give you stability and thus confidence. You should also relax and let the bike be an extension of yourself. Ninety percent of the ride is in the head.

Andre led me to a path with two ominous black iron pillars. As soon as I saw them, my body became tense. I have a long-term fear of flying, and my treatment is a tablet of clonazepam and a sip of vodka. Riding a bicycle is a bad idea, but I missed it a lot at the time.

Andre set a series of orange football cones outside the bollards. Passing through the bollard, she told me, but focused on the cone. If you look at something, you will ride in.

"Maybe we can start with something else," I said.

Andrei found another set of bollards, a little farther apart, covered with bushes. I like bushes. They are very soft. Even so, I still have to pluck up the courage to ride a bicycle over. The way I deal with bollards is to slow down and put one foot down when I walk without getting off my bike, turning my bike into a scooter. This is a bad habit, Andre said. Sudden deceleration will make me dangerous to other cyclists and make me unstable. I should also maintain enough speed so that I can slide over the bollard without pedaling.

I was still scared, but in the next attempt, I managed to get my foot on the pedal. We cycled in the park and looked for other places to ride our bikes.

"Good job," Andre shouted, like a mother who encouraged her, although I had never had such a mother. "great!"

After the first class, I decided to go for a drive by myself. The closest non-crowded place to me is Donghe Park. From my apartment, there is a clearly marked bike path. In four blocks, I met a Con Ed worker, two delivery trucks, and pedestrians staring at their phones. The obstacle did not seem to bother other cyclists: students, delivery men, and people older than me were all by my side. Some people ignore the one-way signs and ride their bicycles directly to me. this is too scary. I got off the bike and walked, and I was so humiliated that I wanted to cry.

My ride on a small road in the sweet and sloppy Donghe Park was not very smooth. I stepped on the bollard and then stopped, like a show horse refusing to jump. The more I fail, the more I am angry with myself.

"Wadler, you are so pathetic," I told myself. "Everyone in this town can ride a bike, except you. You are a timid, nervous, and messy person."

Andre suggested that if I feel very nervous during practice, I should take a break. I left the bike lane and rode easily in a dilapidated picnic area where a food delivery man was hanging out. On the side, there are two empty trash cans.

That's it, I can build my own bicycle guardrail! The cans are smelly, but this makes it a real New York experience, if I hit them, they will play more than I do. I hope. I set up the trash can to make the lane divider wider than the divider on the path, but narrow enough to pose a challenge. Then I plucked up the courage to ride a bicycle over.

The food delivery man is looking at me, he knows what I want to do.

"Look far away," he shouted. "And speed up. Don't step on the pedals. Just sail over."

At such a moment, there is only one thought in your mind: "I bet I can get this person for a much lower price than Bike Whisperer."

"That's what my bike coach said," I told him. "How do you know these things?"

"Drive through the car," the food delivery man said.

"I can never do it," I told him. "I'm just afraid of the metal barrier."

I raised my scarred wrist.

The delivery man raised his arm. It has the same scar as mine. Then he stretched out his right leg. There is also a very long scar. Maybe I should stick with Andrei.

New York is a dangerous city. I need a more stable bicycle. I went to a bicycle shop in the Upper East Side. I left with the two-inch wide tires and a Cannondale electric bicycle with a stepped design so that I could get off the bike quickly. With power assist, I don’t have to pedal as hard as I go uphill, which helps to eliminate any shaking. I have more control over the bike and more confidence. Until Andre decides that in the second class, we will ride on the real Hudson bike path, which is the busiest bike path in the United States.

Take it back, and when Andre saw how scared I was, she told me. Close your eyes and imagine your journey.

"If I imagine my ride, I will see that my bones are all broken," I said.

"Think of it as when you like it," Andre said.

I thought of my favorite place: a heart-shaped bay, just south of the Little Red Lighthouse and the George Washington Bridge. The Hudson River is very close here, and you can twist your toes in it. Then, encouraged by Andre’s yelling, I followed her through the bollards. I managed to pass a few without pause. I am ecstatic.

I hope the next ride, from the island to the fort, is my victory lap. But as the bollards increased, the old fear began. I couldn't do anything soon, so I had to get out of the car and walk over. This is the old criticism/self-hatred cycle. I spent a lot of money trying to overcome an absurd phobia, but I failed. Near Battery Park City, I left the path and scanned the area.

"What are you going to buy?" Andre asked.

"A bar," I said painfully.

Before 11 o'clock in the morning, the closest equivalent we could find was a liquor store. Several customers were outside, desperately waiting for it to open the door. The trembling of a person who has a serious problem.

"Let's get back on track," I told Andre.

It turns out that reprogramming the brain takes time. Andre took a picture to show me how much space there is between the bollards; she texted encouraging messages. Her course is a therapy course. Praise yourself, Andre told me. We will never criticize others as cruelly as we criticize ourselves.

She also recommends riding a horse to listen to music. I can't use headphones because it blocks street sounds and is not safe, so I bought a small Bluetooth speaker and made a feel-good playlist, which is heavy on Beach Boys and Dion & the Belmonts. This makes me no longer want to fall, but I want something that can really strengthen my determination. I downloaded the Soviet national anthem sung by the Red Army Choir, which evokes the Battle of Stalingrad for me, at least in the movie: when the person holding the rifle was killed, the person who followed picked up his gun. If you run, you will be shot.

We all like the movie-like ending, the music is flying, and the hero raises his arms triumphantly. I wish I could give it to you, but if I raise my arm through the bollard, I might fall. Even now, I shake from time to time. Nevertheless, when the weather is clear, you may see me on the road, playing the Soviet national anthem in my favorite place near the George Washington Bridge.

I walked back on the bike lane.

The cycling world can be daunting. But as long as you have the right mentality and equipment, you can make full use of human traffic.