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. Ride a bike and you can get hurt.
Falling is part of the game.
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 a helmet just can’t protect you from.
Now, before you yell at me and decide I’m trying to freak you out or sell you a new helmet, I’m not. I promise!
In fact, this post is less about getting injured and more about what comes after.
Bodies heal. Surgeons can reattach bones and tendons, and ligaments repair themselves...
I know. I’ve had my fair share of injuries. Big ones.
I’ve got a screw in one knee. A plate and six screws in one wrist. I’ve cracked ribs, dislocated both my shoulders, broke 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.
Now, I’m 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 at 44.
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 -- okay, a lot of it was (I’ve always identified as an advanced rider). 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.