Mountain Biking is one of the most white knuckle, adrenaline fuelled hobbies you can have - and this applies when you ride recreationally, as well as when you ride competitively. It’s white knuckle because when out mountain biking, you can encounter so much different terrain at so many different speeds - and at one point or another, we all encounter obstacles, terrain or trails which do scare us a little bit.
Being scared when out mountain biking usually involves gripping the handlebars as tightly as possible, before dismounting and carrying your bike over certain terrain or an obstacle. Although many of us do not want to experience fear, the satisfaction which comes when you eventually ride over a certain obstacle or terrain, is massive.
In this post, we look at how you can overcome fear when out mountain biking, allowing you to enjoy riding further, faster and over more terrain than ever before.
Do it more!
The more you do something, the less scary it becomes. The more time you spend on your bike, understanding how it rides and how you handle the bike over different terrain, the better prepared you will be for encountering different terrain and challenges. Once you become more comfortable on your bike, enjoyment and excitement will override any fears that you may have.
If you are scared of certain obstacles, such as jumps on a downhill trail - practice on smaller jumps until you have them mastered, gradually increase the size of the jump until you are able to ride over jumps you could once only have dreamt of.
Understand what Scares You
Work out exactly what part of mountain biking scares you - that could be a pedal strike on a downhill trail, or even crashing into a tree. If you understand what you are scared of, you can train around it - avoiding it until your confidence has built up. Riding for yourself is really important here, understanding what you find challenging and working on them.
Focus on Form & Technique
Instead of thinking about the obstacle, think about the form and technique you need to use to overcome that obstacle. If you think about your foot position for example, when riding through rocky sections - all of a sudden it’s the form you are focussing on, not the obstacle.
Feedback from Friends
Constructive feedback is always a great way to improve your riding, especially if you ride with local groups or more experienced riders as friends. Supportive and helpful riders can help you with certain sections, encourage you - and offer technical and riding advice wherever it’s needed.
Realise you are not made of glass
Although it’s never advisable to crash when riding, it’s important to remember that the odd tumble is all part and parcel of enjoying an adrenaline fuelled sport such as mountain biking - especially downhill mountain biking.
Get the right protective gear
Investing in the right protective equipment, to protect your body in the event of a crash can not only prevent injuries, but it can also allow you to ride with greater confidence - knowing that your body is protected from impacts. There’s a massive array of protective gear available, from knee and elbow pads (and the obvious helmet!) right across to full chest protectors and protective vests, what you choose is down to personal preference entirely.