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One month has passed since I fell on a mountain bike trip. The accident wasn't critical, it just left a huge scratch. The accident happened during a fast descent when my front tire hit a little crack.

My problem is that I don't feel confident riding descents anymore. My mind gets afraid and it impacts my riding. What should I do?

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First get the bike checked out. A subtle twist to the handlebar, or a slightly out-of-whack wheel may be throwing you off. And it's possible that the fork has been bent back. –  Daniel R Hicks Mar 23 '13 at 12:17
    
My bike was not damaged, I check it already. And my question is not about my bike, but about me, hahaha. –  TiagoBrenck Mar 23 '13 at 12:52
    
I was - am - the same. I broke my collar bone going too fast into a corner (onroad). About 3 years ago now, but unforgettable - I was descending and came off at about 30mph. I still descend on my brakes especially in the wet. But where's the problem in that? Are you racing or something? Just take it easy and you'll be fine. For me I look back and am maybe a little bit wiser now than I was then....I hope! –  PeteH Mar 23 '13 at 18:08
    
I had the same thing on a wet road and steep down hill. It hurt bad, but nothing broken. Havent been the same descending since. It may have saved me from a worse accident though. I am more careful about checking my speed and getting my technique right. I was really nervous at first but now I am building up to where I was. –  robthewolf Mar 24 '13 at 7:14
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5 Answers 5

Keep riding.

It will take a little while to come back, but it will come back. Just don't push yourself too hard, as you will be tense and stiff and those things can lead to another accident. For all practical purposes your skill limit has decreased, so riding at your old limit is riding beyond your limit until you get past the mental block caused by the crash.

Try to analyze what happened in the crash and learn from it. Were you riding too fast for the trail or your skill level? Did you pick a bad line? Did you use your front brake at the wrong time? Replay it in slow motion in your head. Pick it apart and learn from the mistake. If you can find what the limiting factor was that caused the crash you can become a better rider because of it.

Once again, just take your time and ease your way back into riding at the level you were at prior to the crash. Eventually the fear will dissipate, and if you've learned from the incident you will be a more skillful rider than you were before.

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Try riding within your level, wearing more body amour, and using well-maintained bikes with shock absorbers. Read the research about mountain bike injuries here:

http://bmb.oxfordjournals.org/content/85/1/101.full

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I see plenty of people fall off well maintained bikes with shocks. Adding more body armor is not really a solution, it won't stop you falling off, and it would be pretty hard to ride with so much body armor falling off wont ever hurt you...... –  mattnz Mar 23 '13 at 20:13
    
I ride an apropriated bike for mountain bike, with the protections too. Lol I dont want to suicide!! Hehehe –  TiagoBrenck Mar 23 '13 at 20:50
    
I dont want to "not hurt anymore".I know accidents are inevitable. I just want to lose the fear of descents. –  TiagoBrenck Mar 23 '13 at 20:57
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Virtually every mountain biker with more than a few years under there belt has exactly the same story. In my case, a sideways fall down a bank put me in hospital with a fractured wrist, after putting my arm out to break the fall... - not as bad as some, but still required a bit of titanium scaffolding to fix. The other option I had was a head-plant into a tree, so the wrist damage was, in hind site, the better outcome...

Thats was 15 years ago - I still sh$# myself when riding along a narrow track with a big drop, but have no problems worrying about an "over the bars" falls and such things...

As your prang was not too bad, you should be able to get over it - your subconscious mind has decided you might get hurt if you do that again, and is fighting against you doing it... You need to teach it that what you are doing is OK. The only way is to progressively build up from nearly identical, but easier situations. It will take time and effort. In my case, it now knows I am in charge, but still reminds me.....

As always, when riding, theres no middle ground - you are doing it, or not. Give you subconscious mind any wiggle room, and it will make you back out. Once you have decided you are going to ride a section, only think positive thoughts about how to do it. "I need to ride the right track line" - not "Avoid the rut on the left"

The subconscious does not understand negatives. Words like "Avoid", "Don't" and "Not" are ignored - A conscious thought "I must not hit that rock" becomes "I must hit that rock" to the subconscious- and guess what happens

(Note: Some people don't agree how I separate out conscious and subconscious, and don't accept that subconscious has as much influence on what we do, however, it works for me to understand what going on in my head.....)

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Hahahahhaa, I guessed right!! When I fell, I was thinking in "Avoid those cracks on the ground"... I will stop thinking negatives commands. –  TiagoBrenck Mar 23 '13 at 20:49
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Falling is part of mountain biking. That is what makes it thrilling. Another often overlooked aspect of MTB is the mental concentration it takes. You should be mentally fatigued after a cool ride, too.

Everyone falls, sometimes it is a bad one.

Get back up. Try it again. Remember why you think it is fun in the first place.

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I recently went riding on the Kokopelli Trail and experienced the pucker factor. I will say that it was better this year than last year, so familiarity with the trails helps. I rode them all this year and walked quite a bit last year, but in Fruita I got to the top of Zippity Do Dah and pulled out again this year. I just couldn't look past the drops! But that's this year; confidence, just like in skiing, grows a little each year and my motto is always:"walk today, ride tomorrow". Have fun, ride with friends, practice sections like you fell on with ruts at slower speeds perfecting your decision making ability. Imagine the spot again and again, what will you do next time? You should absolutely know and have prepared for it. I had trouble riding switchbacks so i set up a route riding 27 switchbacks up and down my daily route. I ROCK switchbacks these days but remember when I didn't. Go forth, realize balls are earned, and prepare on solo rides for your moments of decision :) That's my 2 cents.

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