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I was able to put my best friend on bike. Things went well for a several months. Then, unfortunately she was caught in an accident (the one caused by the so-called "target fixation"). Fortunately, she recovered from her injury.

The sad part is that she has lost her confidence to ride. She was enthusiastic for a ride anytime before the accident, but now she is afraid of going for a bike ride. It's even more so on roads she is not used to.

What are some of the ways to comfort her? Any books/videos you'd recommend?

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When you fall from the horse, ride again, that's what I suggest, at a small pace and with (maybe) your company so she feels more protected, and with time give her more "independence" and hopefully she'll pick it up again. –  jackJoe Oct 17 '11 at 8:04
    
Show her Fraternal Schwinns. –  Daniel R Hicks Oct 18 '11 at 21:13

6 Answers 6

Perhaps, trying a schedule might work in a risk-free area, for example, a tennis court or parking lot. For example, for Day 1, spend 2 minutes rolling around a bit on the bike. Day 2, spend 4 minutes. Day 3, spend 8 minutes. Day 4, move to a light traffic area for 2 minutes. Day 5, light traffic for 5 minutes. Something like that. You get the picture. (IMO, buying something isn't always the solution.)

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I was in a similar situation just over a month ago following my own accident. I'm not sure if it's relevant in your situation, but definitely start by throwing out any regard for riding for time/pace/speed. Try "breaking the spell" by riding for totally different reasons than before -- if she was competitive before, try casual; if she was a work commuter, try riding to a dessert spot; basically ease back into riding by coming at it from a different angle.

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The problem with target fixation is that the individual has no confidence that it won't happen again. It's like trying to not think of elephants.

Talking to a shrink may be worthwhile.

Any riding she does initially should be in a setting that is "target poor", and particularly "poor" of whatever sort of thing she fixated on in her crash.

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Change of scenery works with most traumas.

if the fall was on the street, invite to ride on a trail. and vice versa.

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I would try the following:

  1. Professional psychological (of course, if she agrees...);
  2. Riding in non-traffic areas (a sinuous park or countryside would be great).

I have already perceived that most people learn a lot of bike-control while riding off-road-like situations, so that they become much more confident to ride in traffic, because the learned extra skills keep them comfortable to ride in everyday situations.

Well, just a thought, of course it depends on other factors. My wife, for one, is very scared of traffic, and sometimes trying too hard to give support ends up being an additional way to create stress.

Hope it helps, and good luck!

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Can safety measures be added to decrease the chance of repeating the accident? For example, if a vehicle's driver didn't see her early enough, wearing a high visibility vest might help. Perhaps a slightly different route that avoids dangerous intersections might be safer and make her feel safer.

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