Whether you’ve taken a spill bombing a trail on a mountain bike or have been involved in a car-bike accident on the road, getting back on the bike can be difficult — even after your physical injuries have healed.
Follow this advice to recover mentally and regain your confidence to get back on your bike, riding safely.
TAKE PLENTY OF TIME OFF
Crashing your bike can be a traumatic experience. If you get back on the bike too soon, it can cause additional stress and anxiety you may not be ready to handle. If you are uneasy and lacking confidence on the bike, it can affect your bike handling, judgment and may lead to unnecessary mistakes that could potentially lead to another mishap.
Make sure you’ve recovered mentally and are not fearful of the road or trail before you decide to take your bike out for your first spin. If you don’t want to get back on the bike right away, that’s OK. Take time off and get back at it once you find yourself craving the experience of riding outdoors.
TAKE IT EASY
When you decide to get back on the bike, take it easy your first few rides. Choose a route you’re familiar with, which doesn’t have much traffic and is generally pretty safe for cycling.
Opt for smooth, flat roads and ride at a slower speed than you might normally. Don’t be in a hurry, and instead concentrate on having a nice, relaxing ride rather than a serious workout. Once you complete a few incident-free rides, your confidence will slowly return and you’ll be able to ease back into your normal routine.
THINK ABOUT YOUR FEARS
Just like a broken bone, your mental recovery needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Part of this includes identifying fears or anxieties you may have about returning to the bike. To do so, consider what caused the accident. Were you cornering at high speed? Did another vehicle on the road run a stop sign? Did someone clip your wheel on a group ride?
If the crash was your fault and could have potentially been avoided, it’s important to confront your fears. Instead of avoiding corners if that’s what caused your crash, get back on the bike and spend extra time practicing and perfecting these skills so it doesn’t happen again. If you crashed in a group of cyclists and have some anxiety about riding in close proximity to others again, have a few close friends go out on the road with you in a safe environment so you can practice around people you trust.
The silver lining here is addressing the issue can make you a better, safer cyclist if you don’t let fear and other emotions consume your thoughts.
READ MORE > 5 WAYS TO CRASH LESS ON THE BIKE
GET OUT THERE, PERIOD
Having too much confidence can be just as dangerous as not having enough. It’s a fine line to walk when it comes to recovering from an accident. Ideally, you’ll be somewhere in the middle. Have respect for what can potentially go wrong on the bike but don’t let all the dangers keep you from riding.
Getting back on the bike and riding is important, and sometimes you just need to do it more and more and let time pass. Complete short rides around your neighborhood if you don’t have a few close friends to ride with until you gain comfort. Practice calming your mind and avoid any negative thoughts that try to pry their way in. Relax your body and make any effort not to tense your shoulders, arms and hands as you ride, which can adversely affect your bike handling. Remember to breathe and focus your efforts on having fun on the bike until your confidence improves.
Not all issues are easy to solve. Instead of letting negative emotions linger, talk about what’s affecting you mentally with a friend or loved one. Sometimes voicing what’s wrong is all you need to work through your problems. Keeping these feelings to yourself only makes things worse.
Another option is to see a sports psychologist who can help you take the necessary steps to overcome your fear of returning to the bike. A professional in this field can help you build your confidence and steer you through any roadblocks that may pop up along the way.