Pushing Out of Our Comfort Zone
“A ship in a harbor is safe, but that’s not what a ship is built for.”
And neither are we in our comfort zones.
There’s nothing wrong with staying in your comfort zone, but it’s essential to venture out every now and then. While my comfort zone is fairly wide-ranging, there’s one area I’m trying to bust out of that has to do with cycling. More specifically, cycling around people who don’t pay attention to their surroundings and wander into my path. This stems from losing my front teeth in a bike accident when I was nine. Hence why I ride in Westchester on weekends and the Cape Cod Canal during the summer, and never on the crowded path along the Hudson River during the week. Which turns out not to be enough cycling. It was time to step out of my comfort zone.
First I bought a more relaxed bike (yes, this makes two), hoping it would make me more relaxed. I took my pre-owned Raleigh Alysa to the Hudson River figuring I’d ride ten miles to get a feel for the path and the bike, even though I consider anything fewer than 25 miles to be a warm up.
Around mile three, the crowd thinned and by 125th Street, the path appeared to end. A fellow rider pointed out the connector and it required riding on the street amongst cars approaching the highway. I might have only been a few miles from home, but I was a million miles from my comfort zone. I fought off fear and forged ahead using every hand signal (and gesture!) I knew.
Back on the path, gliding under the highway, the Hudson River glistening to my left, the sound of traffic fading away, I forgot I was in the city. Another mile and I was beneath the George Washington Bridge where I came upon the Little Red Lighthouse, a landmark I’d only heard about. At this point I’d passed the five mile mark, but the path continued, so I did too. Seconds later I faced two steep inclines and was soon parallel to the Henry Hudson Parkway, swathed by trees. The path narrowed and curved, but my legs felt fresh and the sights, like the Roman columns I’d seen briefly from my car, egged me on. I got to the end, almost in the Bronx, and was about to head back when a woman got off her bike and started down the staircase.
“It’s a different path, but you have to go on the street first,” she said. “Want to join me?”
As we walked down the steps carrying our bikes, we exchanged names before mixing into the fold of honking cars. Soon Heidi, a singer and stuntwoman for Disney, (which explained her missing helmet), led me up a steep incline into Inwood Park where trees overtook us. A few miles later we returned to the original bike path, and pedaled back, talking the entire way.
At my exit, we exchanged phone numbers and I headed home with a smile on my face, 17 miles under my belt, and a new (non-Facebook) friend. Turns out, when we step outside our comfort zone, we’re not really going out of it at all, we’re just making it bigger.