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So, I fell off a steep hillside...

cal4ever2011-08-30 03:22:21 +0000 #1
and I'm now afraid to ride on skinny single tracks!!!!

A few weeks ago, my fiance, his brother, his brother's friend and I went mountain biking in the Santa Ana mountains (Holy Jim Trail to Main Divide, then down Trabucco). I lost my concentration on our descent down Trabucco because I spotted a lizard. Next thing I knew, I tried to put my foot down to prevent a crash and CRASH! I crashed to my left and rolled off a steep hillside. Luckily, the bushes caught me and I didn't fall too far. However, it was enough make me lose all confidence in myself descending (or even pedaling) through a skinny single track that's close to a hillside or cliff. I have no problem attacking technical sections (lose rocks, roots, or anything crazy) so long as it's not on a skinny single track that's very close to a steep hillside (or cliff). I was doing fine until my crash, now I can barely get myself together when riding past a hillside. I absolutely LOVE descending and some of my favorite challenges are found in skinny single tracks. So, I need to find a way to get over this fear.

Does anyone have any pointers or tips on how I can overcome this fear?

Thanks in advance!

Aggie_Ama2011-08-30 03:33:38 +0000 #2
I have been there! Everything starts to look like you will wreck again. Can you ride something similar with a spotter? So you have a "safety net" to try again? You have ridden the same type of challenge many times and loved it, so you know you can do it!

When I got my 29er I went into big panic mode over descending, it felt way different and I was convinced every downhill would wreck me. I have had far less wrecks on any downhills than other obstacles but on this bike it felt like I was waiting for it. I started to ride with a very patient friend of mine, he challenges me to try things without going to far out of my comfort zone. And he accepts that some days you feel a little less like trying something you're scared of. We started in baby steps and have been progressing for about a month. Relax, don't pressure yourself to get back to where you were that will just make it harder to get there.
Artista2011-08-30 03:52:48 +0000 #3
I've been there too! It helps me to re-approach a trail section that threw me in baby steps. Maybe slow my speed & ride only a few feet of the difficult section until I feel unsafe. Then I get off & walk the bike through the rest of it. I can usually ride at least a few feet further each time until I can tackle the whole section again. Sometimes this takes a few rides, sometimes it takes most of a season to get back to where I was.

My husband is also very encouraging. Sometimes I figure out that I probably could have ridden a section that I just walked. He reminds me that I didn't waste my opportunity & that I can walk my bike back & try riding the section again. I've gained confidence on several difficult trail sections by walking them first & then immediately going back & riding them.

Aggie is right. Some days we feel braver & more coordinated than others. It's OK to embrace a reasonable amount of our self-preservation instinct.
jessmarimba2011-08-30 03:49:56 +0000 #4
I had one of those wrecks too. Grabbed too much back brake, rear wheel slid out and off the side of the trail, and down I went. I was bleeding from knee to elbow on one side and cracked a rib or two on an invisible rock where I landed.

I avoided that particular section of trail for quite awhile...just rode other places. I finally went back to that park and I can't even tell you where I wrecked any more. It was (for me) a process of regaining my confidence overall, and working on enough basic skills that the "surprise" wrecks became a little more controllable. (Less of a panic reflex, which is what caused me to brake so hard to begin with). Obviously I still crashed after that, or I'd be riding today, but even with much more reason to panic now I'm a lot better at knowing what the bike will do in a given situation. It helps mentally settle me.

I use Artista's approach too, and it also helps me to watch someone else ride a section. Especially someone that I know. You can kind of see what to do and what not to do and analyze what you would do differently before giving it a shot.
solobiker2011-08-30 03:37:10 +0000 #5
I have been there too. I was climbing up a fairly steep trail with a switchback, started to fall over and unclipped my foot ( the wrong foot as it was on the outside of the switch back) and tumble backwards down the cliff/embankment about 20-30 feet with my bike as my other foot was still clipped in.

My adivce would be to practice those areas. I still get nervous with tight turns but continue to practice my "weak" areas. Just as long as you are still having fun don't worry and enjoy yourself.
Tri Girl2011-08-30 04:23:51 +0000 #6
just don't do what I did: and that's not ride again out of fear.

I crashed hard about 4 years ago (that tree just reached out and wrapped me around it).

I was so terrified of crashing again, that I didn't get on the bike for a whole year. Then I only did flat single track, then I was even too afraid of that. I haven't ridden in 3 years.

Get back out there, walk the sections that are scary/intimidating and hop back on that horse.

I'm glad you're OK!



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