Saturday, July 6, 2019

Fear or Excitement

I learned years ago that fear and excitement can be the same physical reaction in the body.  What really makes the difference is the label we put on those feelings.

The little bike tour I am about to do is nothing.  I am riding my bike to the airport, flying to Wisconsin and riding my bike to my sister's house.

What is that compared to what women and men have done and are now doing around the world?   Walking across and living in the Western prairies like the pioneers did?  That took guts.

I know of two women today (Katherine Zimmerman and Sylvia Halpern) who have triked through foreign countries with oppressive governments, few women's rights, and rampant poverty.  Yet they not only survived but enjoyed the experience.

Some of my friends say they are "afraid" for me on my minor trek.  What does that mean? Are they not excited about the adventure?  Do they only picture the bad possibilities and none of the good?

I heard a podcast recently and it said that some brains have larger or more active "fear" centers in them.  Persons with active fear centers do not see the world as full of good people and a few bad apples.  They see the world as a place full of bad characters from whom they must protect themselves and their loved ones.

This study (sorry I can't site it, I was just listening) also showed that there is actually a difference in the brains of those leaning left politically vs those that lean right.  Those in the red camp have bigger fear centers in their brains.  I am sure there are ski jumpers, car racers, and business risk takers that lean right.  What I am saying is (according to this pod-cast) they are more apt to be suspicious of strangers, government, and people who are different from them.

Here is the question I have -- Is the fear center built in... or is it that the fear center grows in response to fearful thoughts? 

So if some of my friends who worry about my safety as I ride my trike on paths and roads in Florida and Wisconsin -- are they being overly fearful or am I being naive and too trusting?


DOGS!!  DOGS!!! Not sweet cuddly puppies and warm hug-able labs.  DOGS with TEETH showing. 

You know what I fear?  Dogs.  Dogs that chase and bark and growl and sometimes bite bicyclists.   Dogs that scare the begeebees outta me.

I have been looking at Googlemaps and I can put the little man down in the street I want to travel and actually look around as if I were there.  Isn't that AMAZING!!!!  This technology revolution is just so mind blowing to those of us started life without a TV and grew up watching black and white TV with only three channels.  It is incredibly amazing.

On that particular street in Wisconsin where I put the little man down on the map.  I saw the street had a rundown trailer and a run-down shack.  It reminded me so much of the roads we traveled in Mississippi and Alabama on our trike trip in 2014 when we rode from Northern Illinois to Florida.  It seemed like every third house we passed had dogs that chased us.   Mississippi and Alabama were the worst for untrained barking, chasing, snapping dogs.

Looking at that street on Googlemaps, I began to feel fear instead of excitement about my trike trip.  "What am I doing?" I asked myself.  "Why am I doing this?"  "What if?"

But then I reminded myself of a book I read in the 1990's.  It is entitled, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers.

She taught me that the brave don't live without fear.  They feel it too.  That is the definition of courage.  It isn't doing things without fear, but doing things in spite of fear.

So I am going to prepare, just in case.  I have a whistle that I will wear around my neck.  I have a little can of HALT that is a kind of pepper spray that we used on those dogs in Mississippi and Alabama.

HALT doesn't hurt the dog.  It makes the dog uncomfortable for about 30 minutes.  Hopefully teaching it not to chase bicyclists any more.

I have read to yell at the dog, "Go HOME!" and "Get off the couch!"   I have listened to bikers that talk excitedly to the dogs (which I have tried and it works on some dogs).  "Come on boy, come on, you can catch me."

And now I am excited again.


Today I am doing laundry and cooking up the fresh veggies in my fridge so I can put them in the freezer.  Then I will clean out my fridge tomorrow.

I have practiced putting bubble wrap on my trike and have packed the bubble wrap and tape so I can prepare my trike for the plane ride to Wisconsin once I arrive at the airport in St. Pete.  I have measured my trike and it fits well within the size limits for sporting equipment on this flight.

Today, Saturday, I went to breakfast with the bike group at the Hen House.  Then a couple hours later I met some of the folks from our dementia support group at Cattle Dog.  This evening I go to our neighborhood 4th of July celebration dinner.   I love all the social activity and I hope that by loading up now I won't miss it so much in my travels.


I can easily point to the happiest time of my life.

George had retired (moved into semi-retirement) from running his business in Wisconsin on July 31st.  On August 1st we got on our trikes and started pedaling our way around Wisconsin.  It was hard at times, but I loved it.  It was my first time blogging and sharing our experiences with others online and I think that too was part of the thrill  and the fun.  I would ride all day and then sit in the evening or afternoon and review the pictures and share the day with others via

Maybe I will never be able to recapture that feeling of freedom and creativity.  But I won't know unless I try.


  1. Susan. Good luck with your adventure. It seems to me that I followed you in yo ur trip to Florida a couple of years ago. I didn't realize it until I saw the photo, with the trikes and the cot/tents mounted on top of the trailers! It seems I was following you on Crazy Guy on a Bike??? We are less that six months from full retirement and able to travel and trike as we wish to. I've book marked your URL and will be watching for updates! Tom in Okeechobee, FL

    1. Yes, TractorTom01, I was on CrazyGuyOnABike in 2014 when we rode from Northern Illinois to Florida.

      How exciting that you are retiring soon and will be able to go on longer trips. It really opens up the possibilities. Stay healthy and able!

      You can click "Join" at the top of this page and fill in your email. Then you will be notified when I post to this site. That will be easier than remembering your book mark.

      Thanks for Trippin' with me again.

  2. So excited for you. You are not alone, wave when you can, smile at everyone even the rude people & you will discover you are surrounded with good folks. Lights, bike flag, a good horn or bell, (law in FL), some decent size dog bones-stopped a few dogs for me, trust your instinct instead of talking yourself out of a situation cuz you don't want to seem fearful & I am rooting for you to do great & be safe.

    1. Hi MaryAnn. Thanks for you kind words.

      I have a bell and now I have a boat horn for the dogs. I don't want to reward a dog for chasing me, so I won't throw them a bone. Blast them with noise, water, and halt if necessary. Not only do I want to keep them from biting me, I want to teach them not to go in the road and chase people. It can be dangerous for a dog to run out on the road to chase a bike.

      Thanks for cheering me on!

    2. Good for you Sue. You are an inspiration and a wonder in my eyes. You helped me through the toughest days of dementia with my husband who is now gone and you now inspire me with your exciting and fun loving spirit. Life is for the living and you make the most of it. Good luck on your latest adventure.

    3. Sometimes finding joy is an effort, sometimes it just flows. Life is much better when we can find the joy and be grateful for it. Your smile and your appreciation of who I am is a blessing I am so glad to receive. Thank you.


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