10 Ways to Calm Your Fear and Ride at Your Best

10 Ways to Calm Your Fear and Ride at
Your Best

Invest in the ultimate upgrade—you

Mike Montgomery, Whistler, 2010. Photo by Ryan Cleek

Countless dollars can be spent trying to improve your mountain bike’s performance—new tires, suspension, components, etc.—but what is the most overlooked upgrade? The answer? You.

Mental ability is everything! Not enough confidence and you’ll ride below your ability, limiting fun. Too much confidence can be dangerous. Simply being confident in the skills you possess as a mountain biker will enable you to ride at your best!

Gene Hamilton of BetterRide is a licensed USA Cycling expert coach and has over 19 years of coaching experience. Gene has coached many top pro racers, such as Mitch Ropelato, Joey Foresta, Cody Kelley and Ross Schnell, as well as hundreds of riders who just want to get better.

Using Gene’s techniques will help you minimize distractions to harness your true capabilities. Below are 10 tips that will put you in a successful mindset to have your best ride.

“Breathe and smile. Remember it’s just a bike ride. Breathing and smiling release tension, which improves balance, coordination and confidence,” says BetterRide’s founder, a USA Cycling expert coach, Gene Hamilton. Lance Nelson demonstrates.

1 Be prepared. Get your bike and gear ready the night before a ride to eliminate pre-ride confusion.

2 Ride at your own pace. Trying to advance too quickly can be dangerous. Crashing because you took a risk too early will often set you back, decreasing your confidence and raising your level of fear.

3 Focus on what you want to achieve. Don’t overthink the potential of crashing. If you focus on not failing, your brain has to focus on the concept of failing and then refocus on not failing. It is better to focus on attainable goals, such as getting over that rock or riding this section smooth and light rather than telling yourself simply, “Don’t fail.”

4 Slow down to progress. Don’t be ashamed to get off your bike and walk a technical section. Identify what is intimidating you in the section. Most likely you will be able to successfully navigate the section when you are mentally prepared.

5 Breathe and smile. Remember, it’s just a bike ride. Breathing and smiling release tension, which improves balance, coordination and confidence. Deep-belly breaths from your diaphragm can be very calming. And, smiling releases endorphins that can relax you.

6 Update your self-concept as you improve. Keep in mind that the past doesn’t equal the future. You may have wrecked or not made a section last time, but if your skills have improved since that time, then the section could be easier for you now.

7 Use body armor when learning a new skill or section. I have found that wearing knee pads and elbow pads really increases your confidence when learning or trying to push your limits. I don’t wear pads because I expect to fall; I wear them so I can focus on what I want to do!

“Don’t be ashamed to get off and walk a technical section.”

8 Write your fears down and read them out loud. This often debunks your fears. Is your fear realistic? Often fear is not based in reality, and when we realize this, the fear goes away.

“Learn from your mistakes: If you mess up or wreck, do your best to figure out why it happened and correct that mistake or improve your technique so it will not happen again,” says mountain bike coach Gene Hamilton.

9 Learn from your mistakes. If you mess up or wreck, do your best to figure out why it happened and correct that mistake or improve your technique so it will not happen again. Then update your self-image!

“Standing in the attack position on the bike—knees bent, elbows out, centered over the bottom bracket—can boost feelings of confidence and can have a positive impact on our chances for success.” Pro racer Cody Kelley shows how it’s done.

10 Develop a power pose. Standing in the attack position on the bike—knees bent, elbows out, centered over the bottom bracket—can boost feelings of confidence and can have a positive impact on our chances for success.

 

“I didn’t even know how to ride before I took Gene’s class.”
—Bryson Martin Sr., founder of DVO Suspension


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