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Getting Over Fear After Crash

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Road Cycling ďIt is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.Ē -- Ernest Hemingway

Getting Over Fear After Crash

Old 07-30-20, 07:55 PM
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RFEngineer
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Getting Over Fear After Crash

I crashed coming down a mountain road in May. I basically ran off the road during a turn and tumbled. Broke a rib and a vertebrae. For the last 3-4 years I've been doing a lot of riding up and down mountain roads, with fast descents. I've gone out a few times since my recovery, and I'm pretty timid about descending. I brake a lot so I'm not screaming down these hills, but my bike wants to go fast. Obviously, I don't want to crash again, but I'm worried I may crash because I'm trying to brake too much.

How do I get over this? I really don't want to injure myself again, but I want to enjoy cycling again.

Alan
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Old 07-30-20, 08:09 PM
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Race Up Hills, Not Down Them.

Just Get Over It...It Happens, Specially If Your Bombing Down Hills For No Real Reason, Donít Tempt Fate, Was It Worth it? 🤷‍♂️

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Old 07-30-20, 08:19 PM
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It takes time to come back mentally. I'm 66 and I stopped going for top speed some years ago. I was one of the guys who would tuck and let 'er rip up over 50 mph. I can still have fun at 40 mph.
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Old 07-31-20, 12:21 AM
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You'll probably always have a healthy respect for what can go wrong, how fast it can happen, and how it's too late to do anything by then. That's a good thing!

Not sure why you feel you might crash if you brake too much. In corners? Try to brake before you get to them, try to do all your braking while still upright, and if you need to by all means drag the rear brake through the corner.
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Old 07-31-20, 02:55 AM
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Originally Posted by sfrider View Post
You'll probably always have a healthy respect for what can go wrong, how fast it can happen, and how it's too late to do anything by then. That's a good thing!
Agreed. You donít want to learn to override your brainís natural instinct to take it easy on the descents. I tried my absolute hardest to ďunlearnĒ my fear of lean and kinda succeeded. It felt amazing to fly at pro pace - until I slid across the tarmac.


^hereís what my crash looked like, almost exactly.

Good descenders arenít good because theyíre fearless or suicidal. Theyíre good because they know their limits in various conditions and can consistently get close to those limits without going past.

So you should not work to overcome your fear or to ignore it. The fear is rational. You crashed because you made a mistake. Now the process of learning your limits will begin anew.

I personally learned a lot from my crash. I now have a much better understanding of what my limits are. After recovering, I PRd by 10 seconds on a 3 minute descent Iíve done 20 times before. I promise that you will get faster as well if youíre willing to learn from your mistakes.
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Old 07-31-20, 03:07 AM
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Originally Posted by RFEngineer View Post
I crashed coming down a mountain road in May. I basically ran off the road during a turn and tumbled. Broke a rib and a vertebrae. For the last 3-4 years I've been doing a lot of riding up and down mountain roads, with fast descents. I've gone out a few times since my recovery, and I'm pretty timid about descending. I brake a lot so I'm not screaming down these hills, but my bike wants to go fast. Obviously, I don't want to crash again, but I'm worried I may crash because I'm trying to brake too much.
How do I get over this? I really don't want to injure myself again, but I want to enjoy cycling again.
Alan
Takes time. I crashed at about 50kph taking a downhill turn when my rear tube blew (luckily, i had scrubbed a lot of my speed by then). Went down hard and left a lot of skin on the road. Took me a fair bit of time before i recovered my downhill confidence: a few years, actually, although this is partly due to the fact that where I live, there arent too many hills.

Just keep at it, you'll get there.
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Old 07-31-20, 05:31 AM
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Gradual exposure is what the pros do for people with fears they want to lose and if youíre unhappy after trying it yourself see a pro.

And remember, people without fear tend to die early and/or get involved with the criminal justice system.
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Old 07-31-20, 05:58 AM
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Unfortunately crashes will happen if you ride enough and you also ride like you stole the bike too....LOL. I do at times but I am getting much older from when I entered this sport of road cycling.

I crashed as well years ago when I lived in the mountains descending a sweeping right curve. Just got up to about 30 mph then I too ran off the road and tried to correct quickly.....result, hard left fall over that impacted my shoulder and head. Unconscious for several seconds and needless to say, ripped my left side up as I skidded on asphalt about 60 feet! Suspected torn labrum I never did go to a orthopedic surgeon to see. Just deal with the every so often pain and catches.

How to get over it? Just jump back on and go for it. I wish there was some psychological way to give you but those overpaid schmucks try to bring your past into everything rather than chalking some things up to how I was raised, that is, “Suck it up buttercup” as I was told a lot. My dad taught me that life is hard and sucks.....but if you meet it head on, you get wiser and stronger.
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Old 07-31-20, 06:05 AM
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Originally Posted by sfrider View Post
You'll probably always have a healthy respect for what can go wrong, how fast it can happen, and how it's too late to do anything by then. That's a good thing!

Not sure why you feel you might crash if you brake too much. In corners? Try to brake before you get to them, try to do all your braking while still upright, and if you need to by all means drag the rear brake through the corner.
So true! I use to ride motorcycles a lot and had some nice ones. My group use to also push the envelope so to say on mountainous winding roads and when you go hot and quickly into a turn you did not suspect or see ahead of time, you used control rear bake to drag the tire a bit. Not ideal but works and I went to basic and advanced motorcycle riding schools and this was taught a bit in the advanced. I have left my share of tire marks on some dicey curves and also lost some days of my life after I reflected on what just happened!

I have this one descent that is a regular route for me and I routinely get the 23mm tires up to 45 mph and that is holding back a tad. Every time I do this route in my mind is just that......please tires do not fail me and nothing run in front of me...LOL
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Old 07-31-20, 06:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Germanrazor View Post
So true! I use to ride motorcycles a lot and had some nice ones. My group use to also push the envelope so to say on mountainous winding roads and when you go hot and quickly into a turn you did not suspect or see ahead of time, you used control rear bake to drag the tire a bit. Not ideal but works and I went to basic and advanced motorcycle riding schools and this was taught a bit in the advanced. I have left my share of tire marks on some dicey curves and also lost some days of my life after I reflected on what just happened!

I have this one descent that is a regular route for me and I routinely get the 23mm tires up to 45 mph and that is holding back a tad. Every time I do this route in my mind is just that......please tires do not fail me and nothing run in front of me...LOL
Iím no expert on riding a motorcycle, however, I believe motorcycle riding techniques are rarely informative in how to best ride a bicycle. The tires are dramatically wider, the weight is several hundred pounds different, the horsepower differential is several orders of magnitude.

In my understanding dragging a rear brake on a motorcycle is mostly a technique for low speed maneuvering and tight corners. Itís also done while balancing throttle input. You donít have a throttle on a bicycle.

IMHO, dragging a rear brake cornering at the limit on bicycle is a very bad idea. Tires have a limited amount of friction. That friction can be used for breaking, or cornering. Friction used for braking is not available for cornering. Thus using the rear brake while cornering by definition increases the likelihood of the rear wheel sliding out.

Admittedly, if youíre below the limit it doesnít matter. However, if youíre worried about crashing, you really donít need to be lowering the limit by braking in a turn.

Much better to brake once firmly before the turn, then let the bike run until wheels are pointed straight again.
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Old 07-31-20, 06:54 AM
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Based on the OP’s comment that he ran off the road, I think the OP needs to work more on steering, than braking.

Read the threads on here about counter steering, and if you can still find it Davis Phinney’s ( Multiple Tour de France stage winner, and winningest American criterium racer in history) pieces on cornering and descending.

It sounds like in your crash you set your line in the turn, and then we’re able to turn sharply enough as the corner played out.

By counter steering, you can modulate your line in a turn by how much you press down on the inside handle bar. Actually all steering of a bicycle at speed is done by counter steering whether the rider realizes it or not. However, by focusing on the idea of counter steering and modulating turning radius by pressing down on the inside handle bar, you’ll become a better bike handler.

Go out and play with turning and modifying the arc of your turn by just pressing down on the inside handlebar, and you’ll be surprised how the bike will feel locked in like a ski carving on edge.
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Old 07-31-20, 06:58 AM
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Couple of other things about cornering, descending, a good position on the bike helps a lot.

Are you in the drops while descending. Many timid descenders ride the hood or the top of the bars, feeling more secure there. However, the lower center of gravity from the drops is actually more secure.

next, you want your weight on the outside pedal, to anchor the rear wheel, and the inside handlebar, to initiate and modulate the turn.

and weight back a bit while braking.

It will take time to regain confidence. Working on your technique at low speed and gradually upping the pace, your confidence will come back as your skill grows.
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Old 07-31-20, 07:07 AM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
I’m no expert on riding a motorcycle, however, I believe motorcycle riding techniques are rarely informative in how to best ride a bicycle. The tires are dramatically wider, the weight is several hundred pounds different, the horsepower differential is several orders of magnitude.

In my understanding dragging a rear brake on a motorcycle is mostly a technique for low speed maneuvering and tight corners. It’s also done while balancing throttle input. You don’t have a throttle on a bicycle.

IMHO, dragging a rear brake cornering at the limit on bicycle is a very bad idea. Tires have a limited amount of friction. That friction can be used for breaking, or cornering. Friction used for braking is not available for cornering. Thus using the rear brake while cornering by definition increases the likelihood of the rear wheel sliding out.

Admittedly, if you’re below the limit it doesn’t matter. However, if you’re worried about crashing, you really don’t need to be lowering the limit by braking in a turn.

Much better to brake once firmly before the turn, then let the bike run until wheels are pointed straight again.
I did not say it was the same.....the comment is to their fear of crashing now and over-braking currently. And yes, I have gone into a curve on a “bicycle” hot and used the same principle and it works if you can control it. The fact is, if you have the training, it is muscle memory to a big degree. Can a cycle tire slip out easier than a motorcycle tire given the smaller footprint of contact area, sure it can. But you are not going into the curve I suspect like one on a motorbike would be so the relativity of it can apply.

If you ever want to see the insane cornering and I digress here as it concerns the OP’s fear, watch the Isle of Man TT’s and see what true insanity on two wheels can be.

To the OP, my friend you just have to get back on the saddle and work through the fear my friend. Good luck.
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Old 07-31-20, 07:19 AM
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In my youth I have done descents at 50+ mph. I think my fastest was 53 mph. At age 74 with many years of bicycles and Ducatis under my belt, I have nothing left to prove to myself. But, if I was going to bomb it, I'd have to have a clear sight line and I'd want disc brakes....which I don't have. I would also not do this around other riders. Too many recreational riders have no idea what the proper line through a corner is. As to fear....when you have fear you are reacting to something that hasn't happened based on something that happened in the past. You are not in the moment. And, to be truly successful at anything you must be in that moment. Good luck going forward.
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Old 07-31-20, 08:08 AM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
Iím no expert on riding a motorcycle, however, I believe motorcycle riding techniques are rarely informative in how to best ride a bicycle. The tires are dramatically wider, the weight is several hundred pounds different, the horsepower differential is several orders of magnitude.

In my understanding dragging a rear brake on a motorcycle is mostly a technique for low speed maneuvering and tight corners. Itís also done while balancing throttle input. You donít have a throttle on a bicycle.

IMHO, dragging a rear brake cornering at the limit on bicycle is a very bad idea. Tires have a limited amount of friction. That friction can be used for breaking, or cornering. Friction used for braking is not available for cornering. Thus using the rear brake while cornering by definition increases the likelihood of the rear wheel sliding out.

Admittedly, if youíre below the limit it doesnít matter. However, if youíre worried about crashing, you really donít need to be lowering the limit by braking in a turn.

Much better to brake once firmly before the turn, then let the bike run until wheels are pointed straight again.
I think the point is that you're already past the point of entering the curve at a safe/appropriate speed, in that situation, I'll take a rear tire slide over a front tire slide, def manageable and gives you a fighting chance of recovering, if the front tire slides you're going down. Going into the curve, front brake all the way, adjusting while in the curve, rear only, as always, ymmv. Also, for anyone who rides gravel, you learn to use your rear brake more for the same reason.


OP, I had a similar crash last year, but without the broken bones thankfully, but plenty of scars to remind me to listen to the voice in my head telling me to slow down. It did take a while to get comfortable descending again, just have to ease back into it, no need to push it.
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Old 07-31-20, 08:19 AM
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I bit it about a decade ago coming down a mountain. I was bombing as I was going in to a turn and a car started driving up at the same time. I panicked and jammed on the brakes as I was turning. The bike slid out from under me and I ended up with a lot of soft tissue damage. Too me years to get comfortable on the bike again. I climb hills quite well and pass quite a few folks. But I no longer bomb down them and those who I passed on the way up, pass me on the way down. And I'm ok with that.
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Old 07-31-20, 09:09 AM
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Start on smaller hills. Then work you way up to bigger descents. As an earlier poster noted, you just need to spend more time descending to get over it. Starting with smaller hills first can make the transition easier.
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Old 07-31-20, 01:05 PM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
IMHO, dragging a rear brake cornering at the limit on bicycle is a very bad idea. Tires have a limited amount of friction. That friction can be used for breaking, or cornering. Friction used for braking is not available for cornering. Thus using the rear brake while cornering by definition increases the likelihood of the rear wheel sliding out.
I'm also not an expert, and I know zip about motorcycles.

Agreed that dragging a rear brake is not a good idea when trying to avoid overcooking a turn. It may be the last resort, when you know you're crashing anyway, to scrub some speed and reduce the kinetic energy you're carrying into the crash, but that's about it.
With bicycles, the center of gravity of the bike/rider system is up above the saddle, slowing in a curve tends to force the rider more upright which (a) lessens the lean angle and therefore the sharpness with which you can turn, making it more likely you'll not make it through the curve, and (b) increases the risk of a high-side crash, which is something to be avoided. (I have no idea if there are similar risks when riding a motorcycle - I'd imagine so.)

I suppose there's a break-even point below which braking in the corner is better and above which not braking is better, but I'd hate to be the one carrying out that experiment. I do like to bomb down descents, but I haven't yet exceeded the safe threshold.
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Old 07-31-20, 01:20 PM
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Unless you're racing, you should ask yourself how much you want to push the envelope. Out on a road that is open to the public, you have to be able to deal with whatever you encounter. Cars in your lane, unexpected debris on the road, a stopped vehicle, etc. Chances are, if you are riding at the limits of what you and your bike are capable of, you are not going to be able to react to the unexpected.

When I was riding a motorcycle, I would never for a second try and ride on the street the way I would on a track. I feel the same way descending a hill on a bike.

That fear your experiencing is likely based on your brain knowing that you aren't fully prepared to deal with whatever is around the next bend. Listen to it.
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Old 07-31-20, 05:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Rides4Beer View Post
I think the point is that you're already past the point of entering the curve at a safe/appropriate speed, in that situation, I'll take a rear tire slide over a front tire slide, def manageable and gives you a fighting chance of recovering, if the front tire slides you're going down. Going into the curve, front brake all the way, adjusting while in the curve, rear only, as always, ymmv. Also, for anyone who rides gravel, you learn to use your rear brake more for the same reason.


OP, I had a similar crash last year, but without the broken bones thankfully, but plenty of scars to remind me to listen to the voice in my head telling me to slow down. It did take a while to get comfortable descending again, just have to ease back into it, no need to push it.
Agreed rear brake better than front brake at that point given that itís much easier to control a rear wheel slide.

However, I still think the best option at that point is no brake and use all the available coefficient of friction to steer and stay upright, rather than use up some of it braking, hastening the fall.

Sometimes when youíve overcooked something, the answer is staying committed, rather than grabbing brake and bailing.
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Old 07-31-20, 05:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Germanrazor View Post
I did not say it was the same.....the comment is to their fear of crashing now and over-braking currently. And yes, I have gone into a curve on a ďbicycleĒ hot and used the same principle and it works if you can control it. The fact is, if you have the training, it is muscle memory to a big degree. Can a cycle tire slip out easier than a motorcycle tire given the smaller footprint of contact area, sure it can. But you are not going into the curve I suspect like one on a motorbike would be so the relativity of it can apply.

If you ever want to see the insane cornering and I digress here as it concerns the OPís fear, watch the Isle of Man TTís and see what true insanity on two wheels can be.

To the OP, my friend you just have to get back on the saddle and work through the fear my friend. Good luck.
You survived doing it. Physics however tell us that you decreased your margin of safety, not increased it. While dragging the rear brake slowed you, and made you feel safer, you decreased the friction available to corner, i.e. the friction keeping the wheel from sliding and you from falling, and thereby increased your risk of falling
Stay off the brake at that point, and you have more friction to corner,are further from from the limit of sliding out and falling, and in the process are faster and smoother through the turn.


It all come back to an inviolable principle of physics. Tire grip can be used to accelerate, brake or corner. Grip expended for one is not available for others
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Old 07-31-20, 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Germanrazor View Post
.............................If you ever want to see the insane cornering and I digress here as it concerns the OPís fear, watch the Isle of Man TTís and see what true insanity on two wheels can be....................................
Me thinks the Isle of Man TTís are cool as are Moto GP races.
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Old 07-31-20, 08:23 PM
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Originally Posted by RFEngineer View Post
I crashed coming down a mountain road in May. I basically ran off the road during a turn and tumbled. Broke a rib and a vertebrae. For the last 3-4 years I've been doing a lot of riding up and down mountain roads, with fast descents. I've gone out a few times since my recovery, and I'm pretty timid about descending. I brake a lot so I'm not screaming down these hills, but my bike wants to go fast. Obviously, I don't want to crash again, but I'm worried I may crash because I'm trying to brake too much.

How do I get over this? I really don't want to injure myself again, but I want to enjoy cycling again.
Don't try to rush it. You need to ease yourself back on that horse.

I was in a terrible high speed crash in '86. For 5 years, every time I passed about 15mph, I would start reliving the last two seconds before I wiped out.

That's not safe -- riding at speed safely requires you to relax and control the bike with a gentle touch. When I quit forcing myself, it took years to build back up the speed I once had. Now, I can do 40+ with one hand on the bars while I give a fredly wave to someone coming uphill or bomb down at 50+.

Ride what feels good to you, not what you believe others think you should ride. It's not just about fear but what's fun for you. If you're riding your brakes all the time, that's a sign that maybe another type of hill might be better for you unless you're into the brutal climbs
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Old 07-31-20, 08:27 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
You survived doing it. Physics however tell us that you decreased your margin of safety, not increased it.
The problem is that fear is an emotional rather than a rational response.

You can tell yourself what's real until the cows come home, but it doesn't solve the problem. The challenge the OP faces is getting his head screwed back on. Once he can do that, his technique will follow.
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Old 08-01-20, 02:49 AM
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Originally Posted by banerjek View Post
The problem is that fear is an emotional rather than a rational response.
I donít mean to get all philosophical on you, but emotions are not irrational. Theyíre the most elementary form of rationality we have. You can have rational fears. The term ďphobiaĒ exists to describe irrational fears.

You can have bad responses to fear. Slamming on the brakes, unclipping, going off the road are all bad responses. But that doesnít mean you shouldnít let fear guide you. Thatís your body trying to protect itself from a very real threat. A good response would be to just... get on the brakes hard and early.
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