Build up your confidence slowly, and get back on your bike!
So, you crashed your bike, and now you’re scared to jump back in the saddle? That’s completely normal and is just a part of cycling.
After a crash, whether your back wheel slipped on some wet leaves, you hit a car and broke a bone or two, or you had a big enough impact to leave you a little dazed, it’s totally normal to feel nervous, anxious, and scared when returning.
Despite this, the typical advice after a crash is to get right back on the bike and conquer your fear before it consumes you. But this advice is flawed. For starters, what if that’s not possible? Or, what if the fear is too much, forcing you to put the lycra away and adopt the mindset that “cycling is not for you?”
It can take as little as a few days, or as long as several weeks or a few months, to fully recover both your body, and your fear.
So this blog post will explain how to get over the fear of crashing, with tips including a quick bike inspection to practical mental skills such as visualisation to help you reduce anxiety and improve self-belief.
Get your bike inspected for damage
First things first, get your bike inspected for damage. Some damage is easier to spot than others. For example, if you can’t switch gears and your rear derailleur is hanging off, then this is much more obvious than a broken cable.
Riding your bike without a proper inspection after crashing is very dangerous. In fact, it increases your chances of crashing (again)...
So, do yourself a favour, and either book in with a professional mechanic, or conduct a thorough inspection at home. Check all cables, bolts, and parts are working as intended before riding.
Get used to being around your bike
Depending on how bad your crash was, your first step after your accident is simply to get used to being around your bike. That could be as simple as looking at your bike, cleaning it, or riding it up and down the road.
You don’t need to head out on a monumental ride — take it slow and at your own pace.
Start with short rides and build yourself back up
The advice “get back on the bike” does not work for everyone. In fact, it can be dangerous, especially if your confidence is at an all-time low, and you don’t feel comfortable riding your bike.
For example, if you crashed mid-corner, getting back on and riding may cause you to grab the brakes mid-corner, causing another crash, skid, or even sending you over the handlebars.
Instead, start riding at low speeds on quiet roads. Build up your cycling slowly! You don’t have to tackle a century on your first ride back — focus on enjoying being back on your bike, and nothing less. This will help build up your self-esteem, reduce your anxiety, and will help you stay relaxed.
You can also ride with friends if you’re especially anxious or scared. This can increase your confidence on the road.
Focus on technique when it matters most
If you’re scared of a section of road, a steep descent or a sharp corner — perhaps that’s where you previously crashed — then it’s normal to feel anxious and nervous. So don’t go guns blazing. Instead, rebuild your confidence and self-belief and focus on what you can control.
It’s entirely normal to feel a rollercoaster of emotions. So instead of letting the emotions get the better of you, focus on technique. That’s one thing you can control! Worrying about the corner will cause you to tense up, resulting in improper technique and a greater likelihood of a crash.
Think about how you want to position your bike before entering the corner, what your corner exit will look like, and how you position your weight on the bike. Always ride below your limit, especially if you recently took a tumble.
Visualise successful skill performance
Visualisation is a powerful mental skill that can help improve skill performance and technique. It’s also super useful for building confidence and reducing anxiety!
After a crash, let’s say you crashed mid-corner; you may want to visualise successful cornering. Be very specific with it: how do you enter the corner, what’s your position on the road, when do you brake, how hard do you brake, how do you place your weight through the bike?
Visualising successful skill performance can help you build confidence where you need it most. And while visualisation can be very powerful, avoid thinking about your crash as this may lead to more anxious thoughts.
Re-examine what it means to crash
Some crashes are practically unavoidable. Maybe there’s oil on the road, wet road markings, or a hazard that forces you to take evasive action. However, crashes that are more in your control, such as falling off mid-corner, can teach you valuable lessons, even if they do leave a few battle wounds!
So, we encourage you to re-examine what it means to crash — often, it means you’re pushing your limits to get better.
After a crash, take the opportunity to learn from any mistakes. Perhaps you took a poor line through a corner; maybe your braking technique caused you to go over the bars, or perhaps you collided with another vehicle because you couldn’t slow down quickly enough.
While it’s easy to let fear get the best of you after a crash, understanding why you crashed will make you a better rider. If you crashed because you’re jumpy on the brakes, then work on your braking. This will make you more confident, and will not only reduce your fear of crashing, but will improve your bike handling and overall skills.
We understand that some crashes are out of your control. But focusing on what you can control will make you a better rider!
Crashing your bike sucks. There’s no other way to put it. You’re having a great time, descending on winding roads, chasing top speeds, and then bang…
A crash can not only cause serious injury, but it can knock your confidence and induce fear when riding your bike. And that’s the complete opposite of what you want!
Follow the advice in this blog post, and you’ll be back on the road in no time — back to chasing those personal bests and enjoying the oh-so-sweet tarmac!
Why am I afraid of riding a bike after an accident?
It’s normal to feel afraid after a bike accident. Take it slow, and build up your confidence over time. There’s no need to rush into it!
How do I gain confidence to ride a bike?
To gain confidence after a crash, build up your riding slowly. You should also assess why you crashed — perhaps you made a mistake, which, if worked on, will increase your confidence and reduce your risk of crashing in the future.
Can you get PTSD from a bike accident?
Yes! You can get PTSD from a bike accident. You can also feel intense anxiety, but with the right mindset, you can increase your confidence and get back on the bike in no time!