• Sarah Merrell

Two-wheeled Intimidation: Growth from Daunting Experiences

Updated: May 12, 2020

I remember my first time at Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort like it was yesterday. I was newly introduced to motorcycles and hadn't yet learned to ride so I was on the back of my husband's sportbike. It was a warm, sunny day and as we pulled into the parking lot, I was overwhelmed by the sea of bikes in every size, shape and color. I was in awe of these motorcyclists, clad in leather, who seemed so sure of themselves on such a technical road and at such a foreign place. I felt like I had stepped foot in a new country where I didn't know the language or culture. I worried I would do something wrong or embarrassing. I couldn't imagine myself in those shoes--as one of the confident riders swinging a leg over their bike and taking off to slay the 318 curves along The Dragon. I was intimidated and it was an unnerving feeling.

Little did I know this was just the start. I would have that feeling in the pit of my stomach many times. I also clearly remember my first group ride after becoming a motorcyclist. Everyone in the group was laughing and having fun but I was scared and nervous. I feared I would make a big mistake and was embarrassed everyone had to wait on me so long. I was slow and teeter-tottered my way through the corners. I nearly dropped my bike in front of them too. But I gritted my teeth and got through it. I had this same feeling through many "firsts." My first track day, my few pit bike races, my first time at Women's Sportbike Rally. And 10 years later I still feel it at times today. Earlier this year when I attended the Triumph Immersion event there were 40 top motorcycle influencers that were amazing riders and had built impressive social channels with thousands and even millions of followers. If I said I wasn't intimidated I'd be lying.

Intimidation is a difficult emotion. But I'm going to tell you something surprising. It's a good feeling to have because it will make you a better, stronger person and rider. Here's why. Intimidation comes from a place of desire and admiration. But it feels unnerving because deep down, we want those desirable traits that we admire, but feel inadequate. So why is this good? It's good because it helps show us what we want in life and provides something to aspire to. It also makes you a stronger person in these key ways:

1. It Stretches Your Comfort Zone

Being in an intimidating situation is uncomfortable which makes many people avoid them like the plague. Instead, look at it as stretching your comfort zone. New experiences and foreign experiences are never easy but good things and progress rarely can be found within comfort zones. Allow yourself to be stretched.

2. It Builds Confidence By Showing You That You're Stronger Than You Think

Looking back on intimidating experiences, I find that each one made me a stronger person because I faced a fear and overcame it. By facing fears and challenging situations head-on, it ultimately builds confidence. Also, by overcoming an intimidating situation, it shows us that often times our fears and feelings of inadequacy are unfounded. Take my first group ride. Looking back, I had nothing to worry about. I was with a good group of people and nothing bad happened. So the next group ride I went on I was far less intimidated and had more confidence.

3. It Gives You Something to Work Towards

Since admiration and desire are at the heart of intimidation, it shows us what we ultimately want to be. My first time at Women's Sportbike Rally I was intimidated by the women who were so sure of themselves on their motorcycle and rode with such ease and confidence. I wanted that for myself. It gave me something to aspire to and helped motivate me to become a better and more confident rider. I'm thankful for those women because they helped make me the rider I am today.

These are all positive ways to understand and handle intimidation. But it's important to note that there are also unhealthy ways to tackle intimidation. Oftentimes, if people are intimidated by a person, instead of seeing that person as an aspiration, they respond by finding ways to belittle that person or say bad things behind his or her back to make the person seem less intimidating. This is never good and doesn't provide growth or strength. It's cowardly.

Motorcycling is a sport that involves speed and power which often means it's easy to feel intimidated by new two-wheeled experiences or even the people who ride them. But when you start to feel intimidated just remember the positive side of what you're feeling and embrace it. You'll soon find when handled healthily, intimidation leads to growth as both a person and rider.

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