Janet Burgar did a ‘Confidence Builder’ course with me seven or eight years ago, and followed it up the following summer with the two day ‘Survival Skills’ course. Some years on, she described the improvement in this way:
“Every ride was a white-knuckle one, even if I was only going to the shops. I would go past telegraph poles thinking “I bet it hurts if you hit one of those.” After 7 or 8 years I took one of Kevin’s courses and went right back to basics, which showed that I wasn’t as bad as I thought I was but could be better. I took another course the following year but, although I still had failings, this time I was riding in a more fluid style, proving I had been using the previous year’s instruction .
“This has nothing to do with riding faster as I have no yearning for speed, but it has made my journeys quicker overall. What it did do was to teach me how to deal with an incident if I did make an error. My mind-set still tells me not to put myself into danger but I now have the confidence to look for hazards without being fixated on them and if I do get it wrong I know I’m in with a chance of saving the situation.
“Looking back I think I already had enough skill to get around as safely as anyone else but I didn’t believe it. This meant that I was always expecting to make serious mistakes everywhere, which, coupled with a severe aversion to pain, meant that I couldn’t relax on the bike. This caused me to tense up to the point that I would suffer from muscular aches and headaches when I’d been on a ride. Nowadays I only suffer like that if I get cold or hungry, when I have to tell myself to relax like you are doing.”
An honest and insightful assessment, I think you’ll agree.