Climbing THE FIG (Mount Figueroa) in Solvang is a commitment in itself, regardless of your individual specific goals on any set day. It’s a serious climb, 9.3 miles with an elevation difference of 3086 feet. It takes physical fitness, serious bike riding skills and above all, a certain mental toughness each time the climb is tackled.
Dana Platin, Founder of The Warmi Project and a first time Solvang camp athlete, set out to ride ‘The Fig’ as part of our Spring Fling Camp 2017. You always wonder what goes through another athlete’s head as they face a big challenge. Did they have concerns, doubts, were they confident, what were their real goals? Dana’s write up of her climb up The Fig, shows the value in embracing new challenges as an opportunity to grow. Thank you Dana for this great read, it’s motivating stuff!
There Is No Comfort In The Growth Zone – by Dana Platin
I lean in, push down my right pedal, breathe deep as I pull my crank up. I drop my head down as my eyes fixate on the road ahead, the pain has set in my lower back as I work the incline on Fig mountain outside Solvang, California. I have a 9-mile climb with about 4,800 feet of elevation gain with little to no flats along the way to recuperate. I have never ridden up this climb before, do not know what to expect, was told there is a section with 17% grade. Need to take it steady so I don’t run out of my mental fuel half way up this beast of a climb.
I have been an avid cyclist since 2008, regardless, each time I am on a new route it’s as though it is like the first time I clip into my pedals. I still get a little nervous, I have the tendency to question my ability, and I usually stay within my comfort zone, hence, I hold back.
Susan Jeffers, author of ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’ developed a theory that our comfort zone begins in the center, like a bullseye. And each time we move out of what feels comfortable, with each risk we take, we end up becoming become stronger, and bolder. As our power builds, so does our confidence, so stretching our comfort zone becomes easier and easier, despite any fear we may be experiencing. The depth of risks we take also expands. While we expand we open up, play bigger find and each day we move ourselves toward becoming more and more empowered.
As I continue cycling on up my mountain path, I realize today is pushing me into the growth zone. The night before I had considered not doing the climb, fearful it would be way out of my comfort zone. I convinced myself, it would be safer and better for me to sit back and hear all about the climb afterwards from the people I was training with. With a restless night, tossing and turning, something shifted within me. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, why not ‘start’ the ride as there would be a flat 12-mile warm up. I can do that, I can make it 12 miles on smooth flat road and then decide. And that plan would place me smack in the middle of my comfort zone- my safe, cozy space.
The next morning, I depart with the group and choose to ‘pedal it out,’ I take in all the beautiful landscapes around me, find a comfortable pace and slowly gain more confidence to ‘maybe’ power through the upcoming 9-mile climb. As each mile passes me by so does my insecurity. I arrive at the base of the mountain and decide to expand my comfort zone by one ring. Commit to 4.5 miles, half way up and you can always turn back. As I ride up the first section of the climb, I think I was going to tip as the incline is so steep and the roads are filled with potholes and loose gravel. Regardless, I make it through that first section and moved to the next ring of my comfort zone, yeah!
Sweat, grit and time go by, I look down at my Garmin (bike computer) and see I have climbed 4.5 miles. This is it, my goal, I am done, accomplished what I set out to do, I can turn back now. I slowly pedal as I contemplate turning back. What if I go a little bit further, like 4.5 miles more and finish it? I keep pedaling, although my mind wants me to turn back by legs are moving me forward until my mind and body are synced- we are finishing this climb. I am now in the growth zone, and there’s no comfort here.
I am now all in as there’s no ‘if’ I make it to the top yet more a matter of ‘when’ I make it to the top. I expand my comfort zone another ring. I make a deal with myself that when I make it to the top I would commit to doubling my self-belief ‘now’ for future endeavors.
I am in the final 500 meters of the climb, the views are spectacular, patchwork of greens, vineyards below and only a few cyclists at this elevation at this point of the day trying to conquer Mt Figueroa. As I take my last few pedal strokes, I am elated content that my passion and perseverance beat fear today. I pull over at the top to find the group of amazing triathletes and cyclists I trained with that day. Each had their own goal, their own measurements of ‘success’ and also expanded a ring or many more within their comfort zones.
When the rubber hits the road…
When was the last time you tried something new? Took a risk? What have you been putting off doing because it makes you uncomfortable? What actions will you take?
It could be anything, like making a decision that supports you but disappoints someone else, updating your resume, creating necessary time for yourself, starting a new activity, or letting go of a habit, role, job or something else that no longer serves you.
Now this is where the rubber hits the road, and by taking action we move ourselves into the growth zone.
Action 1- Make a list of the top five things you have been putting off due to fear.
Action 2- Now pick your top two that you will begin to work on TODAY.
Action 3- Now make a list of the top five things you could do to double your self-belief.
Action 4- Circle your top two strategies to double your self-belief that you will also begin TODAY.
Action 5- Write out HOW you will do actions #2 & #4. Watch and see as you take action and move yourself ring to ring ultimately creating a new zone of comfort and confidence.
BTW- I am including some great reads that have helped me find my perfect ‘cadence’ up my own mountain path…
Thinking Body, Dancing Mind– by Chungliang by Al Huang and Jerry Lynch was a very special read to me. In essence, the authors apply Taoist principles to mental skills training in sports. I discovered that Taoism applied to sport enables you to notice and develop the inner strengths and personal qualities that can help you get into the mindset for amazing performance.
Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway– Dr. Susan Jeffers- In this guide to self-empowerment, Susan Jeffers inspires us with profound concepts that have helped people grab hold of their fears and move forward with their lives.
Remember your soul is rooting for you…