Racing again after a crash


@mentalgrit, I was hoping you could share a few words of wisdom on how to approach the first cycling race after a crash. TeamODZ had a rough start to the season, with @anon89912310, @anon41524066 and me having crashed during crit races in the last 2 months.

I have my first post-crash race coming up on Saturday, and am afraid I will stay in the back, scared of crashing again! Many thanks.


Hey @Coach_Theia, what a big topic of discussion! I wonder how many other cyclists have a similar
‘fear’ after big crashes.

A few comments that I would make here:

1) You Give Power to What You Pay Attention To
The simple fact is, it is easy to go back to the crash and replay everything that happened in your head over and over again trying to figure out what happened or simply because it was an emotional event. The problem with this is that, by replaying the event in your mind, your body will respond just as if the event just happened. You will get that anxious feeling, maybe feel a little sick, and the fear response will kick in…

Know now that THIS IS OK!!! However, what is not ok is sitting in the image of what you fear and giving it more power. I would ask that if you find yourself thinking about or imaging the crash to 1) acknowledge it and 2) simply shift your attention to a few reasons why you are a good bike handler.

Give power to what you can control in these situations rather than to the uncontrollable event.

Training Grounds
Take a moment to write down thoughts, images, or anything that can tip you off of the fact that you are engaging in the fear.
Then, take a moment to write down as many controllable skills that you have that will enable you to execute and manage the race (IE… bike handling).

The game is simple from here… If you find any of those tip off’s, acknowledge it and then shift the attention to the controllable. That is one rep. Remember that mental strength and GRIT is a practice. So get practicing! :slight_smile:

I would personally be interested to hear the tactics other cyclists use when they feel fear start creeping in…

Community question:

2) Stay Focused On Pre Race Norm
There is no reason to change anything from your normal pre race routine… Even after a crash. The pre race routine is there for a reason… To get you ready no matter the event type or circumstance. Just execute the routine.

Note: If you don’t have a routine I would advise that you begin to work through your past “great” races and begin to identify the effective things you did to go into those races ‘READY’. Write those items down and begin to create a semblance of a routine that works well for you!

Hopefully, this is helpful! Let me know if you or anyone has any questions! :slight_smile:


Thanks so much-- this is very helpful! I am inviting @cullenac to this discussion because she had a post about bike fear (in general) and I believe she too can benefit from your insights.

I’ll kick off what I usually do when I feel the fear start to creep in… before an event… I tend to be negative about it, and even contemplate not doing the event, which is not helpful at all. I usually get quite aggressive in races, and am also afraid I will stop being that way and just hang off the back! I will work on applying the techniques you mentioned above and will report back :slight_smile:


This is excellent!

During an event if I feel fear starting to creep in I tell myself to relax and check in with my body and the places I tense up – shoulders, hands, etc. In crit races when I start to feel a bit worried, I bring my focus back to myself and what I need to be doing – looking ahead, holding my line, etc and that’s usually enough for me to stop paying attention to how close together everyone is and what if…


That’s interesting Stefanie… In a way you are already applying some of the things that Nate said. I do all my worrying ahead of time (weeks and days ahead, I think, overthink, agonize, get anxious, etc.) and when I line up- and during the race- I am usually very calm. Or at least I was before the crash- let’s see how it goes now!


Great little tip off’s to know its the fear talking rather then your true self…

Great oportunity to respond with that agressive nature that you know is helpful! :slight_smile:


Ah yes!!! Great response

All athletes get distracted (by fear, negativity, devilitaive thinking). The only difference between good and great athletes is the practice of refocusing on thr effective.


You will do great this weekend @Coach_Theia! The team holding crit clinics here had one on crashing that freaked me out a little. But one thing they said – the more you worry about it the more likely it is to happen – stuck with me so I really try to not think about it. Easier said than done in some cases, but it turns out I am pretty good at denial :rofl:


I have not raced IRL like you ladies, but the fear that I have when riding down hill in the mountains where I live. Every time I I have to self talk- I try like @Stefanie to relax my shoulders and hands… I try to focus on the road ahead of me… I find that when I’m too cautious I tend to hit more rocks and am soo stiff by the time I hit the bottom of the mountain! Excellent tips!!


I think racing again after a crash is one of the hardest things to do. Very good information given so far. As a mountain bike racer, crashes are going to happen. Last year, I shattered my wrist after getting tangled in rocks and trees. I did manage to get back on and do 2 races by fall.
The self talk is so important to keep positive. Keep thinking of what you do well. I concentrate on relaxing my neck and shoulders and loosening my grip. The easiest way to do this is to tighten them as hard as you can and then relax. Breathe out.
The other trick in riding and racing is keep looking at where you want to go, not what you want to miss. If you look at the tree, you will hit the tree. Look past the obstacles. Keep scanning right in front and then farther up the course. Don’t get hypnotized by the wheel or rock or log right in front of you.
Third, learn how to fall and roll. Sometimes, just rolling with the bike if you’re going down will do the less damage. Keep your hand on the handle bars and tumble with the bike.
Hold your line. You own your line in a race.
Lastly, if it’s getting really hairy out there, sit up, back off and just ride.
Good luck to everyone racing this weekend!


Thanks Linda! Will keep your tips in mind! Interesting about the roll… I rolled when I fell 2 weeks ago and came out with only minor injuries. I don’t remember rolling- one of the course marshals said I did.


Hey @Petals love these!
I particularly resonate with:

This is an ideal that I like to call “achievement before avoidance” - of which we will discuss in future videos… All in all, it is simply the act of seeking for what you want before what you do not want… This is an IDEAL mindset for performnace and something we can always practice!


Oh @Petals, yes! I attended a crit clinic not long ago on crashing and this was brought up. They told us to look where we want to go and the bike will go there. If we see a rock ahead and focus on it – oh no a rock don’t hit the rock, don’t hit the rock – we are going to hit the darn rock! And it’s true! I have learned that the hard way! The whole looking where you want to go thing is still new to me and is like bike magic, especially when going through corners in a crit race.


I raced yesterday and did not crash! YEAH! I found myself more cautious than normal, and was not as aggressive as I usually am… I am OK with that, I needed this one race to get my mind back on track. I confess I was not working very hard. You can actually tell by looking at the pic below. Thanks all for the great tips!


@Petals I have TOTALLY done this with a crack in the sidewalk, I focused on it and hit it crashed my bike and everything!


Me to! :slight_smile: