Dislocated shoulders, broken bones and removing chunks of flesh; all of this can be expected when crashing. It doesn’t even take a particularly big one to cause damage – just an unfortunate landing. My most serious injury came in 2016 on a practice lap for Pivot TwentyFour12. I took an aggressive line around a corner, buried my front wheel in some bog, went over the bars and my back landed on my outstretched arm – ripping my shoulder out of place. No 60ft road gap. No 15ft drop-off… just a patch of boggy mud I didn’t see.
It is easy to quit after sustaining an injury, people stop riding as aggressively and others quit the sport all together; it is key to remember that the benefits of riding generally far outweigh the risk and time off.
Here are four tips to get you back riding again after taking a spill.
Get back on the bike
Don’t avoid getting back on the bike. The longer you’re off it, the more likely the fear is to set in and the less likely you’ll be to getting back out. This can ultimately lead to taking longer to build up your confidence.
You should make sure you are mentally and physically ready to handle the route or trail you’re about to attempt; but this is no different to when you’re race-ready. Take it easy and have a few relaxed rides to get back into it, then slowly build up the pace and distance. When ready visit the crash site and prove to yourself that you can do it to finally banish the fear!
If the incident takes you off the bike for a while, try visualising being back on the bike and try to go through the crash. Don’t let yourself associate the bike with pain and injuries – it is worth so much more.
Think of the longer term
When everything is going well, you can see your progression and you only ever think of the present. Taking a crash makes you step back and forces you to take time off training and undo a lot of hard work. At this point it is all too easy to focus on how long it is going to take to get back to where you were, and this can soon spiral.
It is important to focus on the long term. Bones heal, scars fade, and fear settles down. You can’t simply throw away years of being passionate about your sport for a few months off.
Develop mental resilience
Cycling has inherent risks and the amount of time you need to ride for to prepare for these events makes crashing inevitable. It can take years to realise injuries are simply part of the game – and that everybody riding has taken time off because of them.
When you get over this spill, you will be mentally stronger, more prepared and better equipped for mental side of racing. Take this time to focus on why you ride – crashing can reinforce why you do it and coming back from shows grit and determination.
“If you’re not crashing, you’re not trying hard enough!”
Learn from your mistakes
Rather than focusing on the injury itself, think about what caused the accident. Is there anything you could have done differently? Could you have picked a different line through the corner? Distributed your weight better? Used your brakes better? Use this as an opportunity to learn as a rider to get better.
Still crashing? Take a little time out to focus on skills development – start here: Skills Training