We have all been there, you’re riding your mountain bike along some wicked fast trail and then the next thing we know, you’re are on the ground wondering what just happened. If you’re fortunate enough to still have your limbs and bike intact, you remount and carry on down the trail.
Several years back, I crashed resulting in a breaking my collar bone. I remember being concerned telling my team manager that I was injured and would be back as soon as I could ride again. He replied “we’ll see”, I said in a panic… I will be back. Again, he replied “we’ll see”. I scratched my head and had no idea what he meant. Unfortunately, my team manager was right, it took longer than I expected to get back up to my prior skill and confidence level. I really struggled to get the fear of repeating the crash and injury out of my head. Since then, I have spent some time contemplating why riders come back with different levels of “coming back”.
If we lock the fear into our thoughts, the fear will linger for a long time – possibly forever. As you may have already figured out, crashing is part of our sport — what you do right after a crash (or after you’re healed up) can have a big impact on your future riding and skills progression.
Step 1 | Self and Bike Assessment
Immediately after a crash, access your body and bike to determine if you’re safe to continue riding. If you have any doubt, head back to the car — ride over.
Step 2 |Figure Out What Happened
Next, focus on what happened that caused the crash. Was it a riding error, wrong line choice, over braking or …?
Step 3 | Visualize Success
After figuring out what went wrong, visualize yourself riding the section successfully. Do this several times in your head, picking different line choices and figuring out which is the best for you and your bike.
Step 4 | Keep Things Simple
Over thinking the proper line, riding position or seat height is usually a sign your nerves are running too high. In this case it is best to walk, no reason to crash again in the same spot. It’s way better to walk today and come back another day.
Step 5 | Try Again
After you visualize success, grab your bike and ride the section again. Ride the section a few times to solidify the success in your head creating a positive imprint to hold onto. If things go wrong on the second attempt, skip it for the day and come back with a clear head.
Step 6 | Think Positive Thoughts
Your confidence will return once you find your groove. Positive Self Talk is the key success – focus on cans, not cant’s. If you tell yourself you are unable to ride a challenging section of trail, guess what — you most likely will not beable to. Tell yourself you can, and that chance of riding it without crashing increases. You have to tell yourself, and convince yourself. Unlock the fear as soon as possible.
To be clear, I am not suggesting you huck yourself off something in hopes you make it, then convince yourself later you can. Make sure you are riding at your current level and not above it. Skill improvement can come from a crash when you evaluate what happened and make the corrections to your riding.
Richard La China is a Professional Mountain Bike racer, USAC Certified Cycling Coach and a IMBA Certified Mountain Bike Skills Instructor who coaches beginner to pro cyclist. Currently working with mountain bike XC, Endurance and Enduro racers and other competitive and non-competitive mountain bike riders seeking to become their best.
I took a Fundamental Skill clinic last weekend and learned so much! I've been riding for a few years and...
I took a Fundamental Skill clinic last weekend and learned so much! I've been riding for a few years and felt stuck and was not improving at all. Aaron was a great instructor! Very patient and broke down everything step by step and we repeated the skills until we felt comfortable. I look forward to mastering the skills I learned and taking another clinic in the spring. ~Jody Hachenberger-Amend
Special thanks to Santa Fe Fat Tire Society for bringing you in!
My wife and I had the privilege of attending the skills 2 day camp in Santa Fe New Mexico August...
My wife and I had the privilege of attending the skills 2 day camp in Santa Fe New Mexico August 20th and 21st. Richard and Aaron and Catherine where fantastic trainers and teachers they brought new light into basic skills of riding each person in the group was able to excel in what we were doing before we moved on to some other awesome skill or task individual attention was felt by all in the group and visible Improvement was seen in all Riders when we have you back next year you should plan on doubling or tripling the number of riders thanks for a super fun weekend and special thanks to Santa Fe Fat Tire Society for bringing you in and of course thanks to Richard and Aaron and Kathryn. ~Bruce Hamby
Woohoo! As good as it gets is appropriate! Richard is not only a great rider, he is a great teacher!...
Woohoo! As good as it gets is appropriate! Richard is not only a great rider, he is a great teacher! I would encourage everyone to stay away from the mind trap that buying a more expensive mountain bike is what you need to ride better. Spend the money on lessons instead, and I know you will be happier (and safer) in the long run. I can't say enough positive things about the Bike Skills clinics. ~ Chris G.
Within one hour we we clearing a 5 foot jump easily and with confidence!
Wow, a friend and I just did a one day private lesson with Richard and I can’t believe how much...
Wow, a friend and I just did a one day private lesson with Richard and I can’t believe how much we learned. I’ve been riding for over 10 years but with all self taught skills. We wanted to learn fundamentals the right way and Richard took us through all of that (along with critical bike setup) and the intermediate stuff that they teach in one day plus he spent an extra hour at the end to teach us jumping which I had always been nervous about. Within one hour we we clearing a 5 foot jump easily and with confidence, we even learned to move the bike in the air on a crossed take off and landing. I think my favorite part though was riding fast on the very gnarly technical descent. We will be booking up more private lessons during the summer at Big Bear. Thanks Richard you are a very good teacher! ~John U.
We attended the 2-Day Mountain Bike Skills Camp in Denver CO. I'm a beginner to mountain biking and the class...
We attended the 2-Day Mountain Bike Skills Camp in Denver CO. I'm a beginner to mountain biking and the class exceeded my expectations. The first day was basic fundamental training from bunny hops to cornering your bike. The second day we put those skills to the test by climbing and downhill at all different skill levels, Richard and Aaron even took video to help improve our skills. Well worth your time if you want to improve! ~Russ Anderson
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