fear of falling

Discussion in 'Women's Cycling' started by cultivateuse, Apr 4, 2004.

  1. cultivateuse

    cultivateuse New Member

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    Greetings all,

    I started road biking a few years ago when I was training for a triathlon and loved it. I have a great bike and one major hang up -- I'm really afraid of going down big hills. (Which makes for some tricky riding because I live in very hilly NH). When I go down hills, I put the brakes on the whole way down. I'm afraid of going too fast, losing control, and falling.

    I know this is pretty irrational. A friend of mine tells me that the faster you go, the more stable you are and that I'm actually making things worse by riding the brakes. Is this true?

    Does anybody have any suggestions for getting over this phobia? It's kind of embarrassing and I think it's holding me back. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks,
    C
     
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  2. cfsmtb

    cfsmtb New Member

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    Check here, I asked a similiar question recently:
    http://www.cyclingforums.com/t92811.html

    Don't know if you are experiencing the same problems as me, but there maybe some solutions and ideas for you.
    ta,
    cfsmtb ;)
     
  3. Cryder

    Cryder New Member

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    Hi,
    Thanks for making a really honest post - a lot of people get pretty sketched out when going downhill, just not all of them have the guts to admit it. Descending well is a learned skill, and believe it or not, takes years to master. We all start at different levels.

    I made an earlier post about descending, http://www.cyclingforums.com/t104759.html.

    I think your battling an issue of the mind however, and would recommend that you find small straight hills to gradually improve your ability and feel in control at the same time. Once you believe that a fall is inprobible in that situation, take it to the next level. Its a very satisfactory process and an essential to riding well... which we all know is essential.
     
  4. edlfrey

    edlfrey New Member

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    Since you consider this a phobia versus a medical problem I am going to suggest something that may help.

    Go to a local park or some other grassy area where there is nothing but earth that you can fall opon and FALL. What I am saying is to ride at a slow speed to some point that looks inviting and FALL.
    When you hit the ground do NOT put your hands down, fall on your shoulder and roll away from the bike. I repeat, do NOT put your hands down! You might want to think about putting your hands and arms up in the air as you Fall.

    Scary! Yes, but it may be what your mind needs to understand that it is OK to fall and everything is going to be alright.
     
  5. Susan Repp

    Susan Repp New Member

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    I am a novice at all this and have some fear going downhill fast (my fast vs someone else's) so I am on the learning curve (s'cuse the pun). Thanks for the info - I have also heard that if you pedal (which is near impossible on a long, fast downhill) it helps with control of the bike and more friction between tyre and road. Also, after a bad accident on my bike I was a bit wary of going fast, falling and crashing again - so .. I decided to crash again just for the shear hell of it - that cured me though I did get banged up a bit - guess it wouldn't be fun otherwise?!?!? Maybe some training wheels would surfice and keep us upright!?!?
     
  6. brightgarden

    brightgarden New Member

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    Any ideas? Try mine. I used to have a debilitating fear of falling. Not that this'll definitely work for you, but it seemed to work for me: Go mountain biking.

    That's right. Mountain biking. And if you think you're mountain biking, but you're not falling, you're fooling yourself. (Hehe. What do I know really?)

    But seriously. There is no need to go mountain biking just for the sake of experiencing a bunch of falls on the notion that falling a lot will get you over your fear of falling. The thing is, if you take seriously the idea of learning to bike off road, on not very smooth trails, with unexpected obstacles potentially around any turn, you may do some smart things like learn to use your brakes properly on some soccer field somewhere before you get in a bind on the trail, figure out what your bike can do for you and what you can depend on your bike for, and practicing on grass is easier on a mtn bike than on a road bike. Learning how not to grip your handlebar too tightly, learning how to shift your weight back when you need to brake suddenly, and learning how to fall while falling on something somewhat softer than asphalt. All good things to know anyhow.

    Chances are, you will fall. Why not fall first on something softer than asphalt (as was suggested earlier up).

    For years before I took mountain biking seriously, I never fell because I tried very very very hard not to fall. Either by stopping whenever a fall was possible and just porting myself and my bike around the obstacle or down the hill, or by avoiding those rides in the first place. I also squealed my brakes down huge long descents (but still fell anyhow).

    I finally bit the bullet when I went riding with someone who I considered far more delicate than myself, but who was apparently able to negotiate these scary freaky steep descents in dirt! The very next ride (on a paved trail), I noticed immediately that I was way more confident than I'd been on a bike since I was a kid. Now I relish the challenge.

    Good luck!
     
  7. Susan Repp

    Susan Repp New Member

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    Good points above for the mt. biking - unfortunately for me my dotor who reconstructed my shoulder banned me from going on a mt. bike for some time - "more likely to fall" and undo all his good work so it wasn't that I "want" to crash on asphalt it just happened. I wanted to ride again, do not have much experience on a mt. bike and I knew that something might happen again at some point. I didn't want to wreck my shoulder so there was some fear just not enough to stop me riding.

    So though I suggested "falling" (humour, humour) to lose fear it wasn't meant as "throw yourself off the bike" sort of deal!
     
  8. brightgarden

    brightgarden New Member

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    True true. Most reasonable people wouldn't have taken your comment that way either. I like your direct no nonsense fun style. Keep it coming!
     
  9. EoinC

    EoinC New Member

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    First point - Don't worry about it too much. It is human nature to try to stay within your limits. All these things tend to happen in stages, just as a baby learns to pull itself up and stand. At first it is pushing the envelope - doing something it has not tried before - then it goes through a stage of consolidation - getting good at standing (and enjoying it) before moving on to let go of the support.
    Allow yourself time to progress in stages. As an excercise, it may be worth doing the following. Seek out a hill (which you know well) with a good run-out at the bottom and little traffic. Select a starting point where you can coast down without requiring the brakes. Try the same thing from slightly higher, and then slightly higher again..... Seek the point where you get through cleanly, but get a surge of adrenalin from it. This will give you a sense of achievement where you have taken control over your fear.
    Second point - Learn how to brake correctly. Some 70% of the braking force comes through the front wheel due to the weight transfer. Learn to use both brakes and learn to feather them. It is not a good idea to ride for too long with the brakes on as you can get a lot of heat build-up. Learn to "scrub-off" speed on the straight sections before you enter a corner. Try scrubbing off speed using the increased wind resistance of sitting up. Generally, you should require little, if any, braking through a corner. Braking in a corner can make the bike sit up and, more importantly, increases the chance of losing traction.
    Third point - Learn to read the road ahead. Try to flow through the corners rather than fight them. Look at where you are wanting to go, not at where you don't want to go. You should be picking your path ahead as if you were drawing a smoothly curving line on the road.
    Fourth point - As per the previous postings, ride on the dirt. I grew up (that's debatable) riding dirt bikes (pedal and motor). In the dirt you find that traction is not usually an on/off switch. Once you are used to wheels sliding, you learn that you can still maintain a degree of control.
    Fifth point - Falling is often not as bad as the thought of falling. Getting hit by (or hitting) a car is usually far worse. There are exceptions, however, which brings me to the :
    Sixth point - When you are riding your mate's bike down a steep winding hill with a rock face on the right, a big drop-off on the left, a rough chip-seal surface and a busy T-intersection about 1 kilometre further down......and the stick that you put in to replace the back-peddling brake's torque arm bolt (which fell out earlier in the day) breaks (ie you are now freewheeling down a certain-death hill with no brakes)......make sure that, when you try to launch yourself off the back of the bike in a last ditch attempt to save your life, you do so with sufficient effort to clear the rear wheel. When I was a kid, I found myself in this delightful situation and failed to clear. The tyre ran me at high speed into the seat stays and proceeded to burn straight through my jeans as it simultaneously made great efforts to pass my entire body through the gap in the seat stays; my arms were up in the air doing a not particularly useful Mexican Wave; my feet hit the ground that was passing by at warp speed; I was launched into a quintuple somersault with double half-pike making for a well-executed splashless re-entry to the rough chip road; my body gradually "scrubbed off" speed and brought me to a stop in time to see (through the smoke haze eminating from the smouldering denim) my mate's bike go bouncing over the cliff. My mate, who had declined the owner's right of riding his bike down the hill on the way home (he had this crazy idea that the stick, which had been in there all afternoon, might not be of sufficient tensile strength to withstand the upcoming braking efforts), appeared sometime after the smoke had lifted and berated me for launching his pride and joy off into the pine trees below. I am now very careful about the quality of sticks I use to replace bolts in critical areas.
    Ride (nearly) within your limits,

    EoinC
     
  10. pkienert

    pkienert New Member

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    C,
    Where are you in NH? I'm down south- it's fairly hilly here and I experience the same thing. Was so glad to read your post - I thought I was the only one...

    Paula:)
     
  11. MtnBikerChk

    MtnBikerChk New Member

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    Knee/shin pads and elbow guards. the first time you fall and land square on your knee and realize it doesn't hurt is pretty empowering!
     
  12. shokhead12

    shokhead12 New Member

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    Go to wider tires until you feel more stable.
     
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