I had an accident on my bike earlier this year and it really threw me off, in more ways than one, so I thought it would be helpful to share my thoughts to get back to riding after an accident. My accident was not my fault and involved me rolling over the bonnet of a car where the driver had taken my right of way, because ‘she didn’t see me’.
My physical injuries were gone within about a month or so, but my psychological scars remain nine months later. But I won’t let anxiety stop me because I’m determined to keep riding. Here’s a few tips if you’re faced with the same situation:
Get past your anxiety
I sometimes wake up in the early morning before a ride day and want to stay in the safety of my bed, but I force myself to get out of bed because I know that I will be happy when I’m on the bike and when I return from my ride. My anxiety only exists in my head before the ride, not during the ride. My worst anxiety happens on Saturday morning because that was the day of my accident. But I just push through that feeling and never regret getting out there.
Organise to meet a friend or two
If you commit to a friend to meet up for a ride, then you are far more likely to get out of bed. My friends and I always leave each other with a ‘thanks for the ride’, because we are grateful for each other’s company, and we might not have turned up if we weren’t committed to each other. The night before a ride send out a few text messages and make a firm commitment to meet up. Up until this year I was extremely reliable and rarely let anyone down but I found that I was sending too many early morning messages to say I wouldn’t be there. I’ve not made a commitment to myself to only skip a ride if I’m really ill and to return to my reliable former self.
Don’t over commit – be kind to yourself
When you first get back to riding don’t commit to a daily ride. Take it slowly with a once or twice a week commitment and build up from there. You’re more likely to succeed if you’re realistic. I remember reading that it takes 21 days to form a habit, so do this for at least three weeks before it is likely to stick.
After my accident I didn’t ride my bike for five whole weeks and when I did return I took it very easy. Don’t be too hard on yourself. One of my favourite lines is ‘Be kind to yourself’.
Give yourself time
Don’t expect to be back to your previous fitness level straight away. You’ll obviously be slower and find the whole experience physically challenging at first. Push through this feeling and you’ll be rewarded. Trust me. Those good endorphins are well worth it.
Check your bike and gear
If you haven’t been on your bike for a while then make sure it’s in good working order before you jump back on. If you’ve been in an accident on your bike, take it to your local bike shop and get them to check it over for you so you can confident it is in good working order. And of course dust it down and remove those spider webs. Make sure your helmet is okay and if it’s taken a knock, throw it out and buy a new one.
Commit to an event
Confession time….. I’ve been saying all year that I’m going to sign up for an event so I have a goal but I still haven’t done it. It will now become my new year’s resolution.
Signing up for an event like a mass participation ride or an upcoming race program is a great way to get you out on the bike. You know you’ll need to train in order to make the ride an enjoyable experience and to reach the other end.