And We’re Off…

By the time you read this, if all goes to plan, we should be well on our way to Colorado for three weeks of Christmas cheer, overeating, desert winter sun and hopefully a bit of cycling, courtesy of the other half’s family. As ever the joyous prospect is slightly marred – for me at least – by the fact that the only practical way of getting there (and believe me we have looked into it) is to fly.

It’s not just the whole environmental impact of it that bothers me – although that does bother me a lot – it’s the fact that, since I was about 19 or 20 I have had a deep-rooted dread of flying. Not enough to stop me doing it, if I can’t avoid it, but enough to colour the whole run up to a holiday (not to mention the last few days at the end) with a sort of looming sense of doom. There was no incident that triggered it, no horrific bout of turbulence or near miss with death – just the sudden and unshakeable conviction, held as much in my gut as in my head, that flying is an inherently unsafe thing to do and I’d be much happier if I never had to do it.

I do realise that, as someone whose primary means of transport is, mile for mile, the second most dangerous in the UK, being afraid of what is statistically the very safest is a bit daft. But then again, logic has never really played much of a part in what we fear and what we don’t. True or not, I feel as if I’m in control on a bike, and that if something does go wrong I’ll be concentrating so hard on getting out of trouble I won’t have time to panic, even as the quarry lorry bears down on my back wheel which is not so much the case when you’re strapped into an aluminium tube somewhere over the Atlantic. That, on the whole, tends to trump the sort of statistics people like to quote at you in a way that’s meant to be reassuring. Which, for your information, it isn’t.

And that’s also why, when people say that they’re frightened of cycling on the roads, I don’t waste my time or theirs telling them how safe it is, statistically, for every mile cycled, that they’d have to cycle a million miles on average before they got into an accident, or anything like that. It might all be true, but it’s basically pointless. They might be nodding and smiling and taking it all in – but their gut isn’t listening. It’s looking at the road and all the lorries and cars and fragile little cyclists mixing in with them and thinking ‘yeah, right’.

So anyway, I do realise that by posting this now I’m probably tempting fate in a major way, but what the hell. If nothing else ‘blogger predicts her own death online’ would make a great story and even if I did go down in a blazing fireball over the Atlantic, I’d have the satisfaction of knowing it would at least do wonders for my stats

See you on the other side …


8 Responses to And We’re Off…

  1. Bob says:

    So you’re off to Colorado, and we’re off to Canada on Friday (Toronto area) We’ll compare snow falls. I think you may have us beat, depending on where you end up in Colorado.
    Just remember, no loitering around the loo over American airspace. We try not to fly through the good ole USA if at all possible.
    Best of luck to you.

  2. welshcyclist says:

    Have a nice trip. Gut feelings are a pain in the ar** ! Hypnotherapy, might be the way to go, to rid yourself of this nonsensical fear. Though I doubt you’re the type to be open to the powers of suggestion necessary for the therapy to work. I suspect you’d end up crying with laughter at the opening ” now disgruntled imagine yourself to be……..” Guess you’re going to have to man up to your fears! Just remember we’ll all be thinking about you, forget about the stats, what’s fifteen minutes of fame worth, when we all get a go? Personally, I’d indulge in some alcoholic beverages leading up to take off. I’m always very brave after a few. Cheers.

  3. John Gibson says:

    Try to enjoy yourself. I was filled with envy when I started reading, but then I felt very sorry for you.
    Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  4. Flighty says:

    Have a good time! xx

  5. disgruntled says:

    Cheers all. Have arrived safely…

  6. fonant says:

    Excellent point about reciting cycling statistics: saying “don’t worry, it’s relatively safe, honest!” is of no use whatsoever in getting a potential cyclist mixing with motor traffic.

    Our fears are much more based on the magnitude of any potential disaster than on the odds involved: hence the tiny probability of being in a horrific plane crash is much scarier than the much higher likelihood of being badly injured in a car crash. Bungy jumping and roller coasters are still extremely scary even thought the risks are very carefully controlled and the odds of injury quite miniscule.

    Humans understand clearly how they might be killed or injured. But humans are remarkably bad at understanding the effect of probabilities (luckily for the National Lottery!).

  7. disgruntled says:

    @fonant – I think you’ve put your finger on it there. Plus with planes there’s a feeling that they’ll take a long time to go down…

  8. […] not a brilliant flyer, but I find knitting socks quite soothing. If last year is anything to go by, I should have at […]

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