Mental Recovery From A Bike Crash

3 min read

Mental Recovery From A Bike Crash

The probability of getting injured when you participate in a high-risk sport like biking is significant.

This includes all disciplines. Mountain biking. Road biking. Gravel biking. BMX. Commuting to work... biking to the pub. Ride a bike and you can get hurt.

Falling is part of the fun, until it's not.

You can wear all the protective gear, which is generally a good idea, but it won’t save you from everything. There are certain falls a knee pad or helmet just can’t protect you from.

Now, before you assume I'm trying to sell you a new helmet, I assure you, I'm not!

In fact, this post is less about getting injured and more about what comes after.

Bodies heal. Surgeons can reconnect bones and reattach tendons, and ligaments repair themselves...

I know. I’ve had my fair share of injuries.

I’ve got a screw in one knee. A plate and six screws in one wrist. I’ve cracked ribs, dislocated both my shoulders, broken a foot…

… and have scar tissue in all the wrong places.

It happens. You fall and there are consequences.Sometimes little ones. Sometimes big ones.

I’m also not writing this to brag about my hardware (is it really brag-worthy, anyway?)… or disclose how often I crash (surprisingly not that often, but when I do… I really go for it).

My body has recovered from all of these injuries. Mostly. As much as it can in my mid-forties.

But what didn’t recover quickly after my third major crash in ten years, was my mind.

That last one did me in. Or more accurately, did my head in.

I got scared. Like really scared.

I made all kinds of excuses not to ride my bike -- the thing I love to do the most.

Too cold. Too wet. Too hot. My wrist wasn’t ready. Gotta work. Gotta walk my dog (he’s too old to ride now). My garden needs weeding...

I came up with every excuse I could think of.

My bike got neglected. And my friends wondered if I would ride again.

The truth is, we don’t talk about this part of biking enough. Getting hurt sucks. There’s no denying that.

Being scared to ride because of an injury sucks even more.

And when I finally got the courage to hop back on my bike -- thanks to the gentle prodding of friends who cared enough to keep asking -- everything made me nervous.

No, I didn’t go out there and crush trails as though nothing had happened.

I walked sections of trails I knew like the back of my hand and had ridden hundreds of times.

If a rock or root section was slightly wet, I freaked out and threw on the brakes. Not today… maybe next time.

Some of it was ego -- feeling like a beginner again stung. And some of it was a desire to control my surroundings so I didn’t get hurt again.

It’s crazy how debilitating fear can be. And how irrational it can make us.

It took a lot of time and patience to get my confidence back. It’s still a work in progress, but now every time I head out for a ride, I tell myself I will try something new in spite of the fear.

And every time I do.

It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you’re willing to acknowledge and accept the fear is there.

And it’s even better when you can love yourself enough to just accept where you’re at. Ditching your pride and ego helps, too.

I would have enjoyed more bike rides a lot sooner if I had just acknowledged that, yes I’m scared, but that’s okay. I’ll just do what I can and be okay with that. No one cares what skill level I’m at but me.

Skills return. So does confidence. And life isn’t a competition.

Have you had to work hard to recover mentally from an injury? Share your experience below and the techniques and tools you used to get back out there!

Let’s inspire each other to accept our current situation and know that there’s always room to get better.

Amy xo

3 Responses

Becca Janusas-Richard
Becca Janusas-Richard

April 10, 2022

I heard about this blog post from your interview with Mountain Bike Connection podcast and finally getting to it now.

It’s probably 5 or 6 years now since my crash and I havent been out mountain biking much since, mainly sticking to gravel trails. My crash happened during a bike event in Nova Scotia, the first half of that route was logging gravel road. It was my second time riding it and my goal was to beat my time from the first time. I get to that downhill section of the first half and you could tell fresh sand stone had been layed on that road not long before. I saw the loose stones and was like no don’t look there but it was too late, I was in the path of the loose rocks and started losing control of my handle bars and flew over them along with my bike flying over me. Though I only suffered a soft tissue injury in my hand from that crash an a few bruises, downhills and rocks freak me out a bit.

I’ve had confident days, but always in my head, as you did braking saying nope and walking the sections I fear.
My husband just ordered me a new bike and my goal is to get back out there and conquer that fear this year because it did truly enjoy it and miss going out.

Though I have no tips on getting over the fear of a crash as I still have minor ptsd from mine, I wanted to share my experience.

P.s I didn’t quite beat my time on that race but was close considering I took 5 or 10 mins to recupe from the crash and my hand couldnt grip the handle bar for the last half of the trail.

Kelsey
Kelsey

April 10, 2022

This is an amazing article. Exactly how I have been feeling. In April it will be a year that I separated my AC joint after I flipped over my handle bars. Need be, I bought a full face from dirty Jane hehe and several shoulder pads. Life happened and I have gotten out of serious biking shape, moved across the country and dying to get back on the bike and not compare where I was from a year ago. This was perfect, do what I can, and take it slow. Confidence will come back. I miss my bike, she’s been neglected too long. Thanks for the post!

Dolores
Dolores

July 11, 2020

I’m glad I came across this article because I just had a spill on Monday (Memorial day), physically I got lucky just a couple of scrapes but it really shook me up. I have been reliving the spill to determine what I could have done differently to “reduce” the risk of it happening again. Discussing it with my husband/riding partner has helped me identify some drills I can work on however I plan on waiting a full two weeks before I get out there again.

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