Built for Impact
Many cyclists rely solely on riding their bikes for exercise, and while that’s a great thing, it’s important to note that cycling isn’t a complete workout. Sure, it’s an excellent source of cardio and a low-impact way to build muscle; however, any rider looking to push past his or her limits will need to supplement cycling with injury prevention workouts. A great place to start is working on your shoulders, ankles and wrists. Finding workouts that target and strengthen these areas will help prevent injuries when things go wrong.
Cyclists are notorious for poor flexibility thanks to their seated positions and repetitive motions. Many cyclists develop tight hamstrings, stiff necks, weak hip flexors and so on. Incorporating yoga, foam rolling or dynamic stretching into your daily routine will greatly enhance your chances of walking away from a nasty crash. It only takes a few minutes a day to loosen up your muscles, which could save you from having to take weeks or months off your bike to recover from an injury.
Okay, this might not be the tip you want to hear, but it’s one of the most important things to learn. The only way to get over the fear of crashing is to crash. Now, I’m definitely not telling you to go out and intentionally crash your bike; that would be a foolish thing to do. You’d likely injure yourself or damage your bike for no good reason. That said, you can remove the bike from the situation and practice your tuck-and-roll technique on your lawn or a padded exercise mat. The goal is to learn how to pull your body into a ball and go with the natural momentum created when crashing. The natural instinct, however, is to stiff-arm the ground in an effort to catch yourself. This is like an arrow going into a target as opposed to a rock skimming across the water. Stay limber and you’ll have the best chance of reducing injury.
Mountain biking can be scary at times, but that shouldn’t deter you from participating in an amazing sport. Sure, you might get a few bumps and bruises along the way, but that builds both your physical and mental toughness. It’s natural to feel butterflies in your stomach as you approach a jump or pinball your way down a rock garden. In fact, it’s that feeling that most riders live for. Embrace the fear of crashing and focus your energy on the excitement of conquering the trails. With a positive attitude and belief in yourself, you’ll be amazed at what you’re able to do.