Fear can be difficult to recognize in a way that other emotions aren't. It can take years after an event before I realize it was fear that made my decisions for me. The funny thing is that if you can identify it in the moment, it comes out from behind the curtain much like the Wizard of Oz--weak and powerless with a bad haircut.
I don't mean to say that fear is all bad. It has probably saved many of us from poor decisions that would've resulted in full body casts. Let's say you were, hypothetically, scaling the front of the Natural History Museum while your hypothetical teacher Mr. Loftsguard was in line for tickets inside, because a friend of yours whom you secretly hated said you probably couldn't do it, well you might've ruined everybody's field trip and never been treated to see a hundred tiny bird carcasses that a curator was very excited about but that all looked very much the same to you had fear not settled upon you when you were about fifteen feet up and made you return to the ground. Just for instance.
As my compatriot Mr. Braids and I set out for a night ride at Buffalo Creek at about 9pm, I did not realize how afraid I was. Afraid of the cold, afraid of the predators, afraid of the dark. Some of this fear could be rationalized. There are a lot of animals out there that I should be afraid of running into:
However, the odds of running into one of these creatures at night is probably about what they are in the daytime. What I was really afraid of, I realized later, was the dark. The Unknown. I realized this when Mr. Braids suggested we try riding by the light of the moon alone. We switched off our lights, and as we began to ride, I felt completely blind, but I could see just fine. It turned out to be terror that was blinding me. I had my head down, my brain off, and was trying to ride up Mr. Braid's rear wheel so that I could cower nearer him. I didn't even know that I was afraid, or that I was totally outside of my own experience in that moment. Finally, the second or third time I almost ran into Mr. Braids's rear wheel, I stopped, figured it out, and called the Wizard out from behind the curtain. The entire evening cracked open.
Neither picture nor description could do the moonlit landscape justice. All I can say is that there aren't many times in my life when my inner infant shuts up--stops wanting, stops whining--and I am transported out of time and out of myself. That ride in the dark was one of those times. It was what we might think of as a Double Complete Rainbow kind of time. I don't know what taking acid is like, but that ride was how I imagine a really good trip might be. Let the similes/metaphors proliferate.
Mind-blowing experiences seem to happen when you least expect them. They almost never happen, though, when you are at home, too afraid to throw a leg over your bike. Try riding in the snow, in the dark, in the middle of the night, or just to work. Try riding where you haven't before. Prepare for probable risks and let the rest go. It's a bike ride. It'll be great.