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Spooked(18 posts)

Sep 23, 2003 8:23 PM
I almost need a sports psychologist... OK, I'm exaggerating just a bit- but I have been hit by a car and wasn't spooked at all. But now after a few close encounters with some nasty late season race crashes followed by a harrowing white knuckle avoidance of a crash on a descent during a club ride that wiped a friend out for several weeks (he was taken down by someone else), I'm having a hard time grabbing anyone's wheel.

I'm wondering how other people cope with this stuff. I don't think it is just self-preservation on my part, either. The race near misses really didn't bother me all that much, because I'm comfortable assuming more risk under those circumstances, and the adrenaline just wipes everything else out, but witnessing a friend's nasty crash on a group training ride because of another rider's complete stupidity?

I've begun avoiding riding in groups, and I find myself becoming unreasonably irritated at the normal group riding indiscetions.

Anyone have any tips for buttressing my denial? An invulnerablity mantra?
re: Spookedkneebreaker
Sep 23, 2003 11:23 PM
try to locate a rails to trails close to your area. it is always good to get away from the open roads from time to time.
re: Spookedfiltersweep
Sep 24, 2003 4:17 AM
There are many trails around here, but there are even more good roads, and I have no qualms about traffic. This time of year there is too much tree debris on trails, too many sqirrels, and frankly, I generally hold the opinion that road bikes belong on the roads when possible.

The riding season is winding down this far north- the sun sets so early these days...
Do you race for fun or is it serious business?bimini
Sep 24, 2003 4:31 AM
If you race just for the fun of it, then go with your feelings. If you are not comfortable in the pack, don't do roads or crits for awhile (the seasons almost over anyway). Over time the comfort will come back if you truely enjoy it. If your not having fun, why do it?

Don't buttress your denial. Racing can be a dangerous sport. I think the denial is when we convince ourselves we are invincible and take silly chances with cars and other bikes. Be aware of the danger, but find a way to live with it.

As far as the group, find a sub group of riders you trust and are comfortable with. It's easy to drop back or speed up if another rider makes you uncomfortable. Find those that do make you comfortable.

If it is serious business, then find a team. Work with the team and if they have a coach, the coach. In a team it should be easy to learn to trust the teammates around your wheels. If they are making you nervous, just explain your situation and they may understand and try to help. A good team trusts each other and has good reason to trust each other. Movements are predictiable and the team normally watches out for each other.
serious funfiltersweep
Sep 24, 2003 5:08 AM
It is serious fun... part of what I'm wondering is how other people react to witnessing crashes. Does it get stuck in their heads? In a road race there was a nasty crash coming down a roller that certainly destroyed one bike and very likely required at least one ambulance ride- the entire pack was hushed afterward, and I had 40 more miles to shake that image out of my head before there was a mass pile-up that I miraculously managed to avoid. But this alone didn't do it- I was fine for a crit the following week where there was one crash when the leader rolled his tire on a corner and went down... but that didn't do it either... I think I am OK with the risks of racing, and besides, who has time to properly think anyway? I think it was the club ride crash that I avoided by inches (the two guys directly in front of me went down hard) that put me over the edge. And this was caused by stupid behavior, rather than an unavoidable fluke.

I've been contemplating the team idea- members of two teams talked with me about joining them at the last crit I raced, so then the issue was which team might meet my needs and fit with my goals. These teams just seem like smaller clubs, if you know what I mean- they ride some training rides together and can wear a team jersey during races, but they don't really have a coach. On the flip side, it would mean more familiar faces at races, although there are already a large number of racers from many different teams that belong to the club.

I'm generally very comfortable riding in a pack, and I'm not sure what or why things have changed. I think part of the issue is that the club I belong to is far too huge, and that there are always new/different people showing up for the established rides.

Maybe that is the issue- earlier we did have a sub-group of 4 to 6 of us. We would get together for non-cycling events as well. It has fallen apart as the days grew shorter, and now one of the guys is training for a marathon, and the other is the guy who was taken down at one of the last club rides I did and is still off his bike recovering, blah, blah, blah...

I'll probably forget all about it by next year anyway... who knows- maybe I'm just sick of riding and using this as an excuse?
Sep 24, 2003 5:25 AM
This is the same thing that happened to both a teammate of mine and me last season. In both cases we had been good to exceptional bike handlers before a crash or series of crashes turned us into sniveling cowards who wouldn't get within two meters of anyone else. So no, to answer the hidden question I read in your post, you are not alone. Every one of us gets those evil voices in our head at some point.

Do the team thing, you will not regret it. They may not have a coach, but you'll be exposed to guys with more experience who can mentor you through some of this stuff.

If you are serious about fixing your head problems, you might try paging Sherpa23 (my coach) on the Racing board to talk about it offline. The reason I'm not sharing here is that some of this stuff is the keystone to true breakthroughs in racing well and winning, and he's understandably cagey about sharing that stuff with the world at large (hey if everyone knows the keys to winning, WTH do we pay him for). He might have some tips and drills you can work on though.
Sep 24, 2003 6:45 AM
LFR- Thanks-

It is one of those things no one really talks about- just as no one is "EVER" even remotely uncomfortable with a 50 mph descent... ever... it just "not cool" to discuss it.

The odd thing is, I've ridden several thousand group miles without direct incident- statistically and rationally I need not worry.

Last year when I was hit by a car and thrown to the pavement- as it was occurring in slow motion I remember thinking literally "this isn't so bad"- the driver stopped, I cursed at him, checked my bike, bent the bars and shifter back around, and continued with my ride (and nursed my wounds later). There was no fear of traffic or riding on the road, or anything... I can't wrap my brain around why this is any different.

re: coaching- It is interesting, that in my limited racing experience, winning/placing does appear to be at least 80% mental/psychological. Few if any people seem to make it very far on conditioning/brute force alone.
Why are you focusing on the bad?MShaw
Sep 24, 2003 11:40 AM
Ole Tony Robbins has a few things right: what we focus on becomes reality. If you continue to focus on what happened, it will drive you nuts. Focus on what YOU can prevent, what YOU can do if something happens. Be prepared, but don't fixate on a possibility that may or may not be under your control.

Could be that this is indeed a sign that you need to go ride a mtn bike (or cross bike) for a while too. Change is good. The added benefit of riding cross or mtn is a greater control of your road bike. When your wheels are sliding around off road, it translates into more control on the road when something similar happens.

Take some time, think about why you ride with the group in the first place. What does it give you? Why are you doing it? What are the benefits vs. riding alone? Once you find out why you're doing what you're doing, going back shouldn't be as big a deal.

That help?

Don't worry, it's natural to feel that wayMR_GRUMPY
Sep 24, 2003 6:12 AM
Give it two weeks, and you'll be over it. During a race, never think about the guys that have crashed. Pretend that they don't exist.
Remember that crashing is part of bike racing. Sometimes it's because of stupidity, and sometimes it isn't anybody's fault. You have to put it out of your mind, or you'll end up riding a comfort bike on a bike path. You don't want that.... Do you ?
choose your groups (friends) wiselytarwheel
Sep 24, 2003 6:26 AM
I deliberately avoid riding with the "A group" in my area because they have so many crashes. When I ride with the A guys, many of them don't bother to point out potholes, obstacles, etc., I guess because they figure that would be freddish. I also don't trust the reflexes of a bunch of guys riding at their limits with wheels 6" apart. The group I normally ride with is much more careful. We point out obstacles, etc. In nearly 3 years of riding, we haven't had a crash or accident. The "A" guys seem to have one every few weeks.
I'll admit to being spooked latelyDougSloan
Sep 24, 2003 7:37 AM
I've been spooked a bit since my son was born a year ago. I fear mostly getting hit by a car. I'm horrified to think about him growing up without a dad, or even without a memory of a dad. Sometimes I start out on longer rides, then turn and go home because of this. I've started mountain bike riding and using the Computrainer more because of this.

I realize that the odds of getting hit and killed, particularly when being careful, using a mirror, being visable, wearing a helmet, etc., are remote, but then every minute we are on the road we are enhancing that risk, however small it may be. When I read or hear about people getting hit by that car that merely strays into the shoulder or bike lane, that concerns me. "There but for the grace of God, go I..."

I'm dealing with it.

sounds eerily like me too.......Nigeyy
Sep 24, 2003 8:35 AM
I try not to think about that kind of thing too. It's one thing to have the confidence that you are careful, ride safely but you would never be able to avoid that car that suddenly swerves into you at speed.

Started thinking more about this since having a family too. I decided that if I began to avoid every risky activity, I'd be at home doing nothing. And even then a lightning bolt or something could get me. Life is just a whole series of risks I suppose -my risk of choice is cycling.
I'll admit to...filtersweep
Sep 24, 2003 8:45 AM
I think the key to all this is that it is not a rational fear, yet it is reality based- which makes it so complicated psychologically. In other words, citing safety statistics does nothing to alleviate the condition.

It would be interesting to know how many people have superstitious beliefs or ritual behaviors surrounding cycling (I know I do). I'm an otherwise rational individual who doesn't even believe in astrology... yet somehow attach meaning and attribute some remote connection to my destiny based on what shoe or glove or sock I put on first... or the checking behaviors I engage in prior to a ride- and how uncomfortable I feel if those behaviors were interrupted because I was rushed, or my wife was talking to me... the low level obsessive compulsive behaviors that most relatively healthy people have (but seldom discuss).
re: SpookedSpoiler
Sep 24, 2003 8:45 AM
So before this, you've crashed before, but were spooked? It's just this latest near-miss that has you spooked?
Obviously, it's making group rides less enjoyable. You've got to honestly assess how much group riding you've done and how many crashes you've seen. The number is pretty low. It's just the dramatic consequences that are leaving the bad impression.
How do you deal with driving a car? You've got to come across a lot more bad drives than bad riders.
re: Spookedfiltersweep
Sep 24, 2003 8:59 AM
I'm not suggesting there is anything rational about it. I've thought about the car thing- and I tend to drive quite aggressively- as in, it can be a problem at times. I rode motorcycle for several years without ever wearing a helmet (until I sold it). There is a part of me that gets off on risk. There is also a part of me that is a control freak. I think many people who get into shaping their bodies, or trying to reach new extremes in their physical performance tend to have control issues. There is a certain high amount of self-discipline required- while at the same time a "just close your eyes and let it all go" devil-may-care attitude that is also needed... if there weren't, it wouldn't be any fun at all ;)

I've hedged my bets- I never think about dying or serious injury... I have disability insurance... I can afford to replace a crashed bike- I generally feel cycling is safe... it is just grabbing a wheel that is a problem. It simply isn't rational...
Dogs freak me out....funknuggets
Sep 24, 2003 10:18 AM
After being bitten once... by the nefarious troll at the top of Mongrel Mountain (who for whatever reason is now gone), and after T-boning a Collie going 43mph... (not pretty results at all)

I am way "SPOOKED" around dogs. Weird sensation, and something I never seem to get over despite the relative commonality of this event in Missouri. For whatever reason when I ride alone, I am okay. But if Im riding with my normal group (ironically called the "Big Dogs"), I freaking freeze up, especially when they come out into the middle of the group. Due to the adrenaline rush, I usually flake right there and it takes me a few minutes to recover.

Is this similar, or completely illogical?

So ponders the funk
re: SpookedSpoiler
Sep 24, 2003 11:20 AM
The control issue is big with me too. I can't descend with a group. I can hang off the back and be fine, as long as I know I own my own line and I don't have to factor in other peoples space needs.

I used to be able to simply go to the head of the pack and LEAD down the decent. This way I can still choose my own line and not lose contact with the group.

But last summer, I lost it around a downhill curve similar to how Beloki crashed. I haven't been able to descend aggressively since. I ride my brakes around corners, crawling, not trusting my tires or the road surface.

Smoking a bit of weed helps for a single ride or two, but after the bud wears off, I still have the problem.
re: Spookedbrider
Sep 24, 2003 10:10 AM
It took me YEARS before I'd get in a peleton with people on BOTH sides of me after breaking my collar bone in a MTB race crash (200 yds from the start). But I did race. I eventually got over it. And you will too. The sports psychologist isn't such a bad idea.