New to the forum and a question


New Member
May 20, 2018
Southern Utah
Good afternoon fellow cyclists. I live in the south of Utah, where you can pretty much ride year round. I mostly ride road and gravel. I was hoping to see if you guys could give me a bit of advice.
I've been suffering anxiety trying to get back in the habit of commuting on bike to work. I was hit by a car on a commute one morning, on my way to work. It totaled the bike, my helmet, and shredded my jersey and part of my bibs. I ended up pretty lucky with only a sprained ankle, a bit of road rash, and a stress fracture mid spine. I was able to get back on the bike about 8-10 weeks after the accident. It has been 10 months since the accident and I still experience pretty severe anxiety before the commute. Besides making myself get on the bike and just do it, I'm not sure how to overcome this. I welcome any advice or experiences you all could share.

I might come off as a little bit pretentious in giving my advice, but I'll try my best not to.

Firstly, I'm really sorry that you've had to deal with this trauma. It's easy to say "accidents happen" until one actually happens to you.

Anyhow, I myself have dealt with different kinds of anxiety for most of my life, so I have some experience in managing it. It might seem like an outlandish suggestion, but I'd recommend trying some mindfulness meditation. Sit down and really think about where your anxiety comes from. Instead of resisting it and trying to get rid of it, really pay attention to it--without any sort of judgment or emotional reaction--and analyze it the way a scientist would analyze a specimen in a lab.

We typically find that anxiety doesn't come from any sort of rational origin, but is a result of excessively worrying about the future. You didn't have anxiety before your accident, but have the roads changed somehow so that you should be anxious now? Was there a worldwide announcement declaring all drivers should target SargentRedbeard? If we both drive safely, your risk and my risk of getting into an accident are pretty much the same.

Anxiety is just your brains way of saying "This hurt us the last time we did it, so maybe we shouldn't do it anymore." Naturally, it wants to protect you, but sometimes it's more of a prison guard than an protective mother. Tell your brain thanks for the advice, but that it's overreacting. It might take some convincing by actually getting back on the road a few times in order for it to completely dissipate.

That being said, a little anxiety while cycling is perfectly fine, because I think it makes us more cautious riders. Being too relaxed on the road is a guaranteed way to cause an accident.

I wish you all the best on your journey to recovery!
If you have friends or work colleagues that ride bikes, it might help your recovery having someone to bike together with you before going at it solo again. It also helps biking with someone to help you in case that you experience any panic attack which may happen due to the anxiety. If you feel that the anxiety is too much, it always helps to talk with a health professional and to do any form of medical psychotherapy that will help your full recovery.
Thanks everyone for the input! It is very much appreciated! I have found that it has been easier to get out with a group of people rather than going by myself. I am heading out this evening with a couple buddy's for a good 50 miler. To be honest, I am actually pretty excited to do this.
So, what is everyone riding these days? I don't know if the gravel/adventure bike bug has bitten you but after my race bike was totaled, I opted to replace it with a Specialized Diverge. The roads around here are a bit rough because of the chip seal. On my race bike, I was comfortably running the S-Works Cotton Turbo 700x28 tyres. On my Diverge, I at first went with 650b wheels and 650x48c Compass Switchback Hill Extralites. It was a pretty plush ride but I went through a couple of them because of construction staples and other larger sharp objects. I recently went back to a road wheelset and am running 700x38 Compass Bon Jon Pass Extralites. So far so good and I have noticed that these do roll a bit faster than the 650b's and super wide tyres. If I can talk the boss into it, I may get another race bike someday!

Jared Squires
Hey Sargent. Yeah, I've had several encounters with a 2 Ton beast. I try not to revisit the moment of collision. That's what frightens me. I completely agree with DenisP comments. Caution is a good thing. AND, my advice for commuting is to develop a set route. You determine what it is and how it rides. Paths, side streets, easy intersections, etc. but you OWN it. Practice it. Ride it. I've found there's comfort in the familiar. Save exploring and taking risks for recreational rides both on and off the road. I'm not a roadie. I'm a commuter.

I love being on my Yeti in the mountains with my dogs. No anxiety there.
Thanks for the advice! That sounds like a good plan! I'm working on getting a mountain bike. My second oldest son, joined the middle school mountain biking team so I need to get something that I can ride the more technical trials with as the Diverge with fat tires isn't the optimal solution!

Everyone has a different physiological make up, doesn't mean that one person is better than another, we're just all different, I say that because what I'm about to say I don't want you think I'm better than you. I've always had this weird way of not being bothered by unfortunate events, even before I went into the military I was like that, during the military I did certain things that was required of me to do that I don't discuss but you I'll let your imagination run wild on that one and I can tell you, you're imagination will not be able to run wild enough! Later got into (non professional) racing cars and a solo horrific accident, then encountered other stuff in my career that would have probably drove some people insane.

So how did I deal with this stuff you scream? I have no idea if this had anything to do with why I can do what I did, it could be just innate in me, but when I was kid of about 7 or 8 (I'm now 65 so that film is now old), I saw a movie about the war in Korea, one of the guys in the film gets shot up bad, and he's shaking and can't move because of fear mostly, his squad leader comes up to him starts trying to talk to the guy but can't get him to responds, screams at the soldier to "square up Marine" which mean't to prepare yourself to fight to the death, they needed him to fire his weapon till he was dead and no longer able to, and the Marine did just that killing a few N Koreans before he got shot some more and died. That scene, which is about all that I remember of the film, stuck with me for all these years, that no matter what happens you have to face the problem head again and again if need be. It's like this, when you're a baby and you take your first attempts at walking you fall down and get hurt well you don't just lie there after falling down and never get up again due to anxiety! no, you got up as a baby and faced your fear and walked again only to fall down again and again and again and getting hurt over and over and over. Same thing happened when you got older and started to ride a bike, you didn't quite riding a bike just because you fell down once. There is something about a child that they can face fear and not let it scare them, as we get older we begin to over rationalize these things that hurt us and develop fears.

So when something like that happens what happened to you I highly recommend that as soon as you are physically able is to ride your bike in that exact same location at the exact same time if possible, at the same speed as well. When I had my horrific car crash I got into a friends car and drove it at high speed at that same track that same day (I got real blessed by not getting killed or hurt in the accident that should have killed me, but I've always been blessed in life and death situations, sometimes I got hurt but never killed obviously! LOL!!)

I'm not a head shrink, I don't know anything about how the human mind works, I've see first hand how the human mind fails under certain circumstances due to fear, but I can't tell you why one person's mind won't fail and another does, but again it doesn't mean that the one person is better than the other, they're just different. When I saw guys uncontrollably freaking out I didn't look down on them during or after the situation, I can't say other guys didn't look down on them, but I didn't, because I knew everyone is different and some people simply shouldn't be in certain situations and they don't find out till they're in it. But those are extreme situations, your situation is no where near that extreme, so the only advice I know to give you is to face your fear and re ride that same route alone, I don't buy into doing it in a group, you were alone the first time you need to be alone the second time. I know that may sound like weird advice but I'm also pretty sure it will work, I can't guarantee it of course, but everyone that I've ever known who faced their fear were less fearful in the future, those that didn't never learned from that fear and were fearful in future events or simply gave up doing whatever they did that caused the fear, and that's not a good way to lead a life.

I'm sorry if I sounded harsh or hard or whatever, I just want you to find a way of becoming a better stronger person because of the experience you had and not a worse weaker person because of it. If you can face it, you will become a better stronger person in ALL that you do in your life going forward.
Hey Froze,

Thanks for the reply. This event somehow is different in my brain. I'm an Army vet that has been deployed a couple times and definitely have experienced my fair share of extreme events. Those didn't deter me from going out and completing the mission the next day. But somehow, this event has done something different to my brain. Anyways, the way I am combating it now is riding a few times a week after work with a buddy and participating in cycling events. I just finished an 80 mile event last weekend and it was great!

I'm glad you're back on the bike. Reading what you said your "fear" may be linked to mental stress and battle fatigue when you were in the army and it didn't surface till you had this comparably minor crash (comparably means to what you experienced in the Army). So I don't think it was the bike event that messed your head up I think it was a accumulative effect of what happened to you in the military that filled your cup up to the very edge of flowing over and then the crash happened and the cup overflowed, and combine that with in the military you couldn't let your guard down because it was a life and death situation now you an relax that element of your life and you can feel safe to let your guard down, if you get my drift. Again I'm not a psychologist I'm just speaking out of my ****.

By the way, thank you for serving our country, job well done.