Overcoming fear of crashing

  • Are you afraid of crashing? Wonder how to overcome fear?
  • Working on strengthening your bike skills and the connection between your body and mind?

Here is a particularly relevant question that one of our website readers sent in. Who hasn’t felt the same way? Read on, and share your experiences overcoming fear in the comments section below! 

Reader: Hi, I’m a slowly aging female rider. I find I sabotage my learning because I am terrified of falling. I’ve broken several bones and have other lasting injuries. It seems to me I’ll never really get anywhere until I learn how to fall and improve my mental outlook. I am looking to acquire the specific skill of falling without getting hurt or to minimize getting hurt.

An analogy in my life would be skiing. I’m a competent skier and I generally don’t shy away from learning skills on my skis by trial and error. This approach enabled me to quickly progress my skiing skills over far fewer hours than...

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7 Head Injury & Crash Tips – By Coach Elaine

*If you have hit your head in a crash – please seek medical attention as soon as possible. These 7 considerations are NOT a replacement for first-aid protocol – and we highly recommend riders take first-aid to understand the abc’s of tending to another rider who has crashed whether they hit their head or not.

Head injuries in sports are making a lot of news lately, which raises awareness about the severity of head injuries. Even so, the prevailing culture including athletes themselves, coaches, parents and sometimes even medical staff seemingly minimizes the importance of treating head injuries, unless someone loses consciousness or is obviously in trouble.

As mountain bikers, the last thing we want to do is stop riding. Unless we’re obviously hurt or our bike is broken, we’re ready to go. It’s amazing how hard of a crash we can take and seem completely fine, with just a few new bruises or scrapes and a story to tell.

Some very bad head...

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Guest Post by Curriculum Expert & Ambassador Jeffrey Neitlich

From the Ryan Leech Connection Mtn Bike Skill Coaching Website

I have spent the last few months working on a variety of skills/challenges: manuals, bunnyhops, balance, technical climbing, etc. Because of this, I haven’t actually tried to wheelie in quite a while.

This morning, I decided to go to my local supermarket parking lot, and reacquaint myself with this skill. I started out with the basics– 1 stroke, 2 stroke, 3 stroke brake– no problem. Then I tried to hold a wheelie, having completed the 30 Day Wheelie Challenge (twice) over a year ago. Yikes! I fell to the right, I fell to the left, I came close to looping out. I was low in the float zone, I had trouble getting beyond 5 or 6 strokes. I got FRUSTRATED, and thought– I forgot this skill that I had worked so hard to achieve!

Luckily, I had my iPhone in the car. I pulled up the Ryan Leech Connection website, and went straight to one of my favorite lessons in the challenge: Day 16, future...

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Reaching a Plateau? Try something Different!

Guest Post by Elaine Bothe

Are you stuck on a lesson or not quite getting something? What have you found helpful to blast through it?

During a recent practice session, I discovered how reviewing other skills and riding on different terrain can help! When you hit a plateau, try these ideas to mix up your practice sessions.

Review or start the Baseline Balance Skills series. These foundation lessons helped me reboot my wheelie and improved a lot of other useful trail skills.

Back up two or three lessons, and practice those skills on different terrain. With some extra caution or more armor than usual, ride your favorite gradual uphill slope when it’s bumpy and dry. Ride when it’s windy! Or practice in a new field. Make your field new by going downhill, or traverse across it! Practice on a gravel road, dust over hard pack, even pavement if you’ve been working on grass. Go slower. Or a little faster! You’ll learn how to adjust your technique and balance in new...

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Mindfulness in Adventure

Soon to be published in Explore Magazine:

4 Steps to bring mindfulness to your next adventurous pursuit:

Bring awareness to your breath

Seemingly simple, and seriously profound. Yet reliable access to the focus that breath awareness brings is not simple, it’s a skill, and requires an ability to become more quickly aware of those times you’re preoccupied with planning, calculation, judgement, and general thought.

Bring awareness to your body

Breath awareness can then extend to body awareness. Access to body awareness that is free of judgement is also challenging, especially during adventure; athletes like to quantify their bodily sensations with tags such as tired, sore, strong, good, bad, which are largely based on past experiences which then predict and influence what will happen in the future. Allowing your body to be-just-as-it-is moment to moment can free you to perform more naturally and up to your full potential.

Bring awareness to the environment

Become aware of...

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The Power of Belief in Practice

Wheelies took a very long time for me to learn. It was one of the very first tricks I worked on with my first mountain bike. I practiced relentlessly to learn it.

Once I overcame my frustrations and finally learned to wheelie, I had the belief that I could learn other technical bike tricks. I then discovered trials riding, and with my trust in practice, believed I could learn trials with enough dedication.

Essentially, I came to believe in the power of practice.

With yoga, I thought I was just a stiff biker dude, and would always be that way. My yoga teacher told me otherwise, and with practice I now enjoy, among many other things, an incredible range of motion.

With meditation, I thought it was a waste of time, both scientific and anecdotal evidence told me otherwise, so I practiced and sure enough, the benefits have been profound.

If you have an hour to practice something, how are you going to make use of that time? I remember when I was learning trials, I’d go on group...

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Commemorative Trials Tricks

My parents are proud of my career as a pro mountain biker, what a blessing to have their support through the years. As I diversify my offerings in the world to include yoga and Integral Coaching®, my Dad decided to present me with a gift to commemorate my years thus far as a pro.

He secretly began tinkering in his workshop attempting to modify one of those bmx flick trix models to look like my trials bike. It didn’t work. So he started from scratch!

A reference picture and some brass tubing...

Through the years Norco has been kind enough to continue tweaking and making me trials frames exactly as I like, and I’ve been riding a white Manifesto frame for the last few. With careful measurements and soldering, clever jigs and fixtures, my Dad managed to replicate it, in miniature!

The pieces coming together...

During my career, I have partnered with many supportive sponsors, on the back of the Trials Trix packaging, my dad listed them, including my very first bike shop...

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Christmas Yoga Playlist & Presence

I brought the simple teaching of presents vs presence in to my yoga class last night. Everyone can give presence, but rather than going to the store to buy it, you have to cultivate it through practice. Yoga is one way.

You can also receive presence from another, but it requires you to leave the busy inner ‘me’ space and enter an open ‘we’ space-sounds simple, but again, takes practice.

If the person you are with is ‘not very present’, or perhaps has been taken over by the holiday crazies, your well developed presence is naturally contagious, they will feel it, and so rather than two ‘me’s’, you will help to create one ‘we’. And what a gift that would be!

Talking about gifts, the playlist below was given to me by my wife Caryn to use at class last night, a great vibe for my last yoga class of the year.

View the playlist on Spotify

With love,


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Competitive Yoga Confession

Don’t be competitive in yoga, that’s the untold rule, it’s just not allowed, it’s not yogic.

Hmmmmm, okay, so you’re asking me to PRETEND I’m not competitive?

Okay, I can do that, no problem….and in the process show up as a complete FAKE!

I’m a competitive person, it’s part of me, it’s part of who I am. I’ll look over at you, see what you’re doing, and try to do it as good or better. In fact, that’s a big reason why I became a yoga teacher, I’m very observant of others bodies and techniques; so using my competitiveness may be one of my greatest assets as a teacher…and it certainly was during my pro riding career. Though learning how to use my competitive nature honestly, skillfully, and with awakeness has allowed me to turn the results of that competitiveness into healthy growth rather than the reactionary and physically destructive patterns it once brought - the latter however was necessary...

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Failure for Thought

A poem I wrote as a reflection on my values as a mountain biker and as a learner:

You can fail in action or from inaction.

Failure from inaction arises as increasingly potent and painful signs.

Failing from actions is obvious, and culturally avoided. Tricky.

A dis-harmony between body and mind creates the developmental tension necessary to drive us to face failure through action.

Failure helps us to more accurately calibrate our body and mind with the realities of the world.

We can use sport and yoga to practice failing.

Embedded in every failure is opportunity.

We must be conscious of when we fail in order for the opportunity to fully emerge.

Honoring this opportunity is the pre-requisite of healthy growth.

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