Returning To The Scene Of The Crime: Wreck Recovery
My wrecks come in series. I’ll go months without hitting the ground and then…like it came out of the sky…I will hit the ground several time within a several week period with the scrapes, bruises and other miscellaneous damage to show for it. Typically, none of these wrecks are season ending, just annoying enough to get under my skin and shake confidence which ends up breeding more wrecks. The vicious cycle continues until I get my head wrapped around it and regain the confidence I was riding with the months proceeding this fun interaction with the trail. The #1 thing I can do to get out of the cycle and gain confidence back in my riding is returning to the scene of the crime.
Regain Trail Confidence: Hit That Section Again
One of the biggest obstacles that we face as mountain bikers is our own head. The bike is always far more capable than our abilities, we have the skill set to get the job done…it is all just in our heads! Your brain is the #1 thing keeping you from riding obstacles or riding with the confidence you had right before your wreck. Nothing else…just your head.
So what do I do to get my brain out of the equation and get my riding confidence back after a wreck?
As quickly as I can, I return to the scene of the accident and ride it successfully. If I just wrecked and do not have enough injuries to keep me off the bike, I hit it right then and there to keep that wreck out of my head for future rides. If I wreck hard enough to end that day of riding, I return as soon as possible and ride that section again successfully as soon as my body is ready.
When a wreck is gone untreated, your mind will start to build it up to be something that is much bigger than it actually was. Mistakes and accidents happen. It is not if we are going to wreck as mountain bikers…it is when. Managing your mindset after a wreck is what separates the riders that let wrecks keep them from accomplishing their goals and riders that move forward and learn from the experience.
Last night’s yard sale…
Last night, I took a drop I have taken dozens of times. It is about 4-5 feet to transition off a rock with a blind landing. Nothing big but not exactly your…”just ride on over it” drop. Fresh off a wreck last week that took me off the bike for a couple of days, I hit the drop and half way through I already knew I was going to slow. The front end slammed against the ground and I headed over the handlebars in a ball of dust that left me with a broken cable, broken shoe clamp, scrapped up arm, bruised hip and a ton of dirt.
Since I was still able to ride, I picked up the bike, shook off some dirt, straightened the handlebars and headed back up the hill. Starring down the drop…I repeated one thing in my head.
“Commit or eat shit.”
The reason I wrecked last time around was not because of my fork, my bike or my abilities as a mountain biker. I wrecked because I wussed out and hit the drop too slow. I didn’t commit to that section of the trail so it bit back. On the second round, I hit the drop with the correct amount of speed and everything went smoothly. Since I decided to hit the section right away, the only adverse affects I have from my face plant is a couple of bruises and scrapes that heal much faster than a wreck that lingers in my head.
Confidence while riding is what gets you through harder sections of trail. When that confidence gets shaken up, you hit areas of the trail timidly which ends up hurting your riding even more. By getting back ont the horse and tackling the section of trail that bit you before, you can insure that you will hit the trail with confidence and prevent future accidents bred by riding without confidence.
The shot up top was taken by Keith Pytlinski (recently featured on the cover of Dirt Rag). You can check out his shots on M5Photography.com and his series on how to take great mountain biking pictures here. Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
What do you think?