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Overcoming fear: Help!(9 posts)

Overcoming fear: Help!Elefantino
Sep 4, 2001 6:35 PM
My wife and I have just had an interesting discussion.
On 7/7, while riding paceline, I hit a tree branch, did an endo and broke my neck. My spinal cord was badly bruised but not broken. Long story short, I'll eventually regain most of my hand function and will be able to ride again.
My bike (5200), which was totaled, has been rebuilt by the factory, repainted, and sits in my dining room, calling me. I can't ride for at least another six weeks (still wearing a full neck collar because I had surgery, too).
The topic of our conversation is the fear factor. My wife says she will be constantly afraid, at least at first, when I get back to riding with the club. I also have some fear, because I remember nothing about the accident. The first time back in the saddle, going full bore in single paceline, will be nerve-wracking. I don't know how I'll react.
Any ideas, gang? Anyone been through this before, or something similar?
Oh, and "drink more beer!" is not applicable advice because I'm on four medications that ALL say "DO NOT DRINK WHILE TAKING THIS MEDICATION."
Have no fear...DINOSAUR
Sep 4, 2001 7:00 PM
I know exactually where you are coming from. I had "the big crash" and was layed up for two months. I thought about the same thing, I gave some serious consideration to just quitting and going on to something else. I had to give it one more try, and after I got back on my bike for the first time, all I could muster was about 45 minutes. But the joy came back and I was riding again! I think my mishap made me enjoy cycling even more, if that is possible. It made me stop and think, and appreciate the value of good health and never to take anything for granted.

My wife does worry more than she lets on. Once I came back after a ride and she met me at the door saying "I thought you were going for a short one!!!!!".

Like you I also remember very little about my crash as I was knocked unconcious. It's probably a good thing. I just kinda wonder what I said to all those people who stopped and obtained my phone number. It was all like a dream.

Don't worry, you'll do fine, my wife insists that I carry a cell phone for emergencies. It relieves her fear a little.

Look at it this way, you had the big crash, what are the chances of it happening again? Probably nil. It will make you a better cyclist.

Another thing I learned is that a lot of guys have crashed, and sooner or later it happens to the best of us if you ride enough. You just got yours out of the way....

"Nothing is so much to be feared as fear".
Thoreau
Oh, and "drink more beer!"cycleguy
Sep 4, 2001 7:18 PM
I would keep that for after the ride. Can't say I have had the same experience that you and dino have had. I did crash last year, a stupid mistake. It did take some time to get my confidence back in my riding skills. Start slow, why go full bore in a pace line? Just enjoy each ride and build from there.
agreeMJ
Sep 5, 2001 1:47 AM
ease back in to it - go with a buddy who's not going to be a hammerhead - who mentioned soul rides earlier this week/last week?

you'll have nerves - your wife will have nerves - I have nerves sometimes which make me almost freeze up and I've never even come close to the injuries you've sustained - it's normal - but life continues with its inherent risks - it would be a shame to give up something you love doing for something that could happen

there are two kinds of riders those that have fallen and those that are going to fall - it seems you've already had your fall - hopefuly there won't be another (serious one)

good luck - keep us posted
Some (Hopefully) practical suggestions.Len J
Sep 5, 2001 3:48 AM
1.Ease back into it. Until you get back into shape, which will take some time, ride by yourself or with friends whose riding you trust. Reacquire your handling skills. Get familiar with your body & your bike. This will build confidence.

2.First few pacelines should be with people whose riding skills you have great confidence in. Tell them your fears & start with a reasonable speed & distance from the person in front of you. Gradually work up speed & narrow distance. Overcoming the fear can be a goal in itself. You can use it to paralyze you, or you can use it for what it was designed for, to make you more vigilant, to help you survive.

3.Pay attention to your comfort level & "push the envelope" a little bit each ride. It will come back, but probably slower than you think.

4.Try to reconstruct the accident. If you have no memories of just before, try to find people that were behind you in the line (if any). In my experience, if you can determine exactly what happened, and what options you had, you can gain some confidence going forward that you can deal with this situitation in the future. Be warned though that it is possible that you did everything right & still were the victim of someone else's error. If this is the case, you can try to avoid the situitation the created the problem (i.e. riding close in a paceline with people you don't know).

The goal of all this is to build your confidence. Be prepared for setbacks. Don't be too hard on yourself when the fear raises it's ugly head. It is your mind trying to protect you. Examine the trigger for the fear and decide how to proceed.

"Feel the fear but do it anyway."

Good luck

Len
re: Overcoming fear: Help!Mel Erickson
Sep 5, 2001 6:01 AM
My "big crash" was about 20 years ago but I still remember it well. By myself on a county road and about to take a left turn at an intersection (I was near the centerline). Just before turning (while signaling) I glanced back and a red Mustang was beginning to pass. No way was I going to turn in front of this guy so I pulled over to the right. He panicked, slammed on the brakes, and his rear end swung around and hit my rear wheel. I went flying over the bars and landed on my head and then rolled onto my shoulder and back on the gravel shoulder. My back was hamburger but my old Bell bucket saved my head. My recovery took nearly two months and the first ride was a challenge. I went with a couple of buddies who understood my fear. We went slow and didn't push it. I slowly built up and by September was back to riding full bore, albeit with a helmet mirror (my wife insisted). My major fear today is not for myself but for my family if something happens to me. Saturday I was on a tandem ride with my daughter and she was disappointed with me 'cause I put on the brakes when we hit 40. A curve was coming up on an unfamiliar road and all I could think of was injuring her. If you don't have any, get some kids. You'll be so busy worrying about them you won't have time to think about yourself.
Thanks for the kind words, all! (nm)Elefantino
Sep 5, 2001 6:12 AM
Crash = Good?mr_spin
Sep 5, 2001 6:41 AM
I've never crashed on my road bike, but I have taken a lot of nasty spills on my mountain bike. Some have been terrifying, if only momentarily, as it occurs to me what could break if I don't stop flying through the air before I hit that rock, wall, cliff, etc. Luckily I've never had any serious injuries.

Your crash sounds about as nasty as they come. But one thing I've learned about crashing is that it keeps me humble. I usually crash when I start to get cocky and lax and generally start believing I am God on a bike. A nice smackdown sets me straight really quick. And as long as I have some idea about what I did wrong, I view it as part of the learning experience.

I don't know if any of this applies to you, but it is something to think about. As pilots like to say, any landing you can walk away from is a good landing.
Ironicmoneyman
Sep 5, 2001 9:31 AM
I just had "The Big Crash" less than two weeks ago. Here is a history of my thoughts as posted on MTBR Passion. My crash was on dirt, but that didn't make much, if any, difference. FWIW.

http://mtbr.com/passion/messages/647625.shtml

http://www.mtbr.com/passion/messages/648636.shtml

http://forums13.consumerreview.com/crforum?14@@.ee7e869

Let me know how you do. I hope to be back on my roadie soon.

$$