Hello, my name is Confidence..

I am the much sought-after but ever elusive companion most wanted by the women who roam this earth.

Women know that I make them beautiful, as I give them a radiantly glowing crown from the inside out to face down the Fear Inducers and show the world what it means to be a warrior princess.

Let’s be honest, there can only ever be one Princess Di, and yet I see no reason why we cannot all be the bearers of the tiara of accomplishment.

Hello, my name is Confidence...

As women, we are all too familiar with the constant mindgame that fills our headspace, the ongoing struggle between the excitement of pushing the boundaries of fear and the primal instinct for self-preservation. Especially if you are a mountain biking Bokkie with your eyes firmly set on conquering some trails.

I have a feeling that you may know the following characters in this battle all too well..

As you puff along the climb, Miss “I’m not good enough” will piggy-back your ride and pull you to a standstill. She will call in her reinforcements, Miss “I’m better off on the open roads where it’s easier” who will join hands with Madame “I can’t do this” and by the time you’re about to crest the hill to drop into the sweet reward of your efforts, the final punch may come from Meneer “I’m going to fall and hurt myself!” For many of us, that’s usually enough, for defeat is at your feet.

We all carry some scars from this little battle, and so we all surrender to them at some point. Maybe more than we should. Every time it happens, it chisels away at your warrior princess tiara and gripes you as you watch with envy the members of the Confidence Tribe glide gracefully about the tree roots, rocks and dongas.

Read on if you want to stop this War of Fearful Thoughts and join the Clan of the Courage Seekers.

Firstly, you have to introduce yourself properly to:

Mrs. “It’s OK to be scared”. Yes. Get to know her inside out, even though she is indeed the one who makes your heart beat faster, have you gulp shallow gasps of air and give you sweaty palms. More than that, she’s also the one who helps you to be alert and responsive! Embrace her fully, breathe in deeply, and slowly, slowly, make her do her job. For she is there to help you, to stop you from hurting yourself. Look her in the eye, and then strap on your Armour for the Battlefield.

I mean that quite literally. Your helmet, kneepads, elbow pads, gloves, and whatever else you need to feel protected. No women in her right mind would drive without a safety belt. We strap our kids in too. So why go forth without the necessary protection? There is no shame in wearing knee pads and baggies for an added layer of fortitude. Also, the current global trend for ladies leans towards using flat pedals and shoes with sticky rubber soles specifically designed for riding. Wearing flats will help you get the right technique as it teaches you to stay connected to your bike, but kindly lets you jump off when your somersault technique is wanting.

My tribe also knows that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Once you’re ready for the face-off with Aunty Anxiety, it’s important to keep those lines going, again and again, and..again, and..again. Start small, practice your technique, then go bigger, building the challenge in the safety of your girlfriend circle. Take photos and slo-mo videos of each other, then take a look and learn from your silly poses. ;)

Repeat and Practise over and over until it’s a smooth line. It really is the only way to get better at anything. As you keep going, the fear will subside with every try I, Confidence, will blossom inside your heart like a wild flower.

If you happen to stumble upon another member of my clan, Miss “Skills Clinic”, do grab her by her helmet straps and hold on tight! Be open to learn from those who know more, listen to their advice and follow their lines. Do, however, be on the lookout for this little imposter: Little Miss “I can only ride with my husband who will keep me safe.” While this isn’t always as bad as it sounds, I have sadly seen this happen many times- A good rider suddenly finds herself in a challenging race, clinging to the wheel of a much more experienced (male) partner, only to suddenly find herself reeling down a technical section way above her skills level. It can turn into a high speed one way ticket to casualty via the Garden of Face Plants. It seldom ends well, leaving the lady rider to pick up the pieces of her remaining self-worth long after the sling and the brace is taken off. It can take quite a while before this rider has the courage to start looking for me, Confidence, in the right places.

Make Senorita “Proper Equipmento” your new BFF. Know what’s good for your type of riding and insist on it. Have someone who knows, check your set-up. You’re not supposed to have a lifting front wheel, back ache, or saddle pain. Get a grippier tyre if you find yourself skidding out all the time. Have a look at the top tube length of your bike if you’re too far back, and consider a shorter stem. These special friends will surprise you in their quick guidance towards your quest to find me, Confidence.

Do not give up! Have courage and please help others by sharing your useful tips in the comments box.