Anxiety, mostly during road riding- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Anxiety, mostly during road riding

    Hi all, not sure how many here deal with anxiety. Mine is usually not that bad but we all have triggers. For various reasons, I'm only a roadie right now. I'm also pushing through chronic pain (sciatica) so, I'm not the rider I used to be and I'm fine with that. But since getting back at it post surgery, I get very anxious about hitting something on a downhill or going down on a curve that has me breaking a lot and just not enjoying it. I've been combating it by just doing shorter rides. I'm not to impress anyone anymore. I just want to get the ride out of my system and get on with my day. Anyone else seal with this?

  2. #2
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    I do about 50/50 of road vs mountain bike. I have anxiety about starting every road ride I've ever done but that's the thought of riding in traffic.

    I sounds like you don't have confidence in your riding skill which might cause that anxiety. Maybe putting some platform pedals on your bike and practicing low speed maneuvering skills in an empty parking lot could help with being more confident. Speeds will be low and with the platform pedals you can just step off.

    My wife does have anxiety issues on and off the bike. I worked with her a lot to build her bike handling skills which has helped reduce her anxiety when riding. If you build trust in your skills and the equipment you ride there isn't so much to feel anxiety over.

    I recently read a book called Breath: New Science to a Lost Art. There was some very interesting information in there and part of it suggested anxiety could be caused by short, shallow breathing rather than shallow breathing being the result of anxiety. Definitely worth a read for anyone in my opinion.

  3. #3
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    Just go slower, and stay at speed where you feel in control. Maybe look farther ahead, anticipate sooner, and start feathering the brakes earlier. Maybe try some wider tires, if they'll fit your frame, or a grippier tread. Drift enough sketchy loose corners and you'll get used to it. : )

  4. #4
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    Funny you bring this up. I've been a road cyclist for a couple of years and I also have anxiety disorder. Lately, I've been stressing out when I am on long descending roads and streets that have street connections to them. I'm nervous that a car might pull out in front of me because they didn't notice I was there. I've slowed down my pace significantly by pulsing my brakes while going down these long descents. I've never had this problem before so I don't know why it's an issue now.

    I also have a similar fear when I'm on gravel but it's not due to cars or connections to the gravel road. I never had an issue when I descended fast on loose gravel or hard packed gravel roads but the last few months have shaken me up. I've never had a traumatic experience so it might just be my anxiety ramping up more than usual. I also pedal a Cutthroat with 29x2.2" tires so I have more than enough tire width to descend anything.
    Salsa Timberjack | Salsa Cutthroat

  5. #5
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    For me, looking down at those 22mm road tires does not instill confidence. Not to mention the steep geo of a road bike. I feel like a crack in the road will send me OTB's. Try your road ride on your MTB if you have one. Wider tires, slacker head tube angle, for me, gives me more confidence. If that helps, invest in some wide "commuter" tires for your MTB. Drop bars are the pits anyway.
    Small ring in front makes it easier. Small ring in back makes it harder. That blows my mind.

  6. #6
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    Iíve been a road cyclist for 50 years, a mountain biker for 35. During the past 35 years Iíve ridden the road bike less and less frequently simply because I find the natural environment far more enjoyable for many reasons. I like picking lines (something not done much on a road bike), the quietude of the forest, breathing clean air, the captivating challenges of uneven terrain, etc.

    But the thing thatís deterred me most from the road bike is texting drivers. Talk about anxiety inducing behavior. When Iím in my car I often see other drivers using their cell phones.

    Cyclists have good reason to be anxious whenever they ride a bike on the road. Multi-ton vehicles whizz past at high speed a couple feet from our left elbow. Not worth it IMO. We have good right to be anxious while riding the road, but less because our tires are skinny or that our frame geo is twitchy ó itís because of deadly factors beyond our control ó the ubiquitous phone-obsessed driver.
    =sParty
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    We don't quit riding because we get old.
    We get old because we quit riding.

  7. #7
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    I road ride for a few reasons and anxiety relief is a main one. I find getting into the zone and just pedaling to be very relaxing and takes my mind off things, I guess I have a high tolerance for adrenaline and I actually enjoy the thrill of cars and winding roads it actually helps me focus on the ride and less on what I'm feeling anxious about. around here I don't get to mtb ride as often as I would like because the trails are closed when it rains and we get lots of rain.
    are you on any meds or seeing a doctor for your anxiety ????

  8. #8
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    No doubt cycling is an awesome way of relaxing the mind. I feel relaxed and calm, whenever I go outside for cycling. It helps me in diverting my focus from anxious triggers to the calmness of ride.

  9. #9
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    Interesting topic. I have been road riding for 50 years and MTB since they were invented. Last January I had a really bad crash on the road due to my own stupidity. My vest came out of my back pocket and caused my rear wheel to lock up. Crashed at 35mph with 5 pelvic fractures, 5 ribs and a Grade 3 shoulder separation. Was in the hospital and in patient rehab for 27 days. I had been Zwifting during the colder and wet days, but since my crash probably 95% Zwifting even though I can ride outside. I definitely have a lot of road anxiety, and have found solace in gravel riding but have only ridden road a handful of times. I think I just need to get out and do it. Zwift races and group rides have given me crazy good fitness which I enjoy a lot. Prior to my accident I was night riding all year long also

  10. #10
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    Personally I'm the other way... I hate riding on roads.

    Local drivers are terrible!!

    The city have put in cycling lanes for commuters.

    When I bike to the trails, I take side streets etc and stay off the main drag.

    When I get to the trails I feel free and alive.

    Sent from my HD1900 using Tapatalk
    "Mountain biking: the under-rated and drug-free antidepressant"

  11. #11
    change is good
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    There are times when I feel my mojo is bad. I slow down and donít push myself. Usually it goes away after a week or two.


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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by targnik View Post
    Personally I'm the other way... I hate riding on roads.

    Local drivers are terrible!!

    The city have put in cycling lanes for commuters.

    When I bike to the trails, I take side streets etc and stay off the main drag.

    When I get to the trails I feel free and alive.

    Sent from my HD1900 using Tapatalk
    I feel the same way! I quit road riding years ago...to many bad drivers. Besides, I love riding trails over pavement.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparticus View Post

    But the thing thatís deterred me most from the road bike is texting drivers. Talk about anxiety inducing behavior. When Iím in my car I often see other drivers using their cell phones.

    ó itís because of deadly factors beyond our control ó the ubiquitous phone-obsessed driver.
    =sParty
    ^
    This

    I was a bike messenger in Washington DC and Chicago-late 80's through 1996
    Riding in traffic was second nature, all of the risks that encompass being a bike messenger- blowing lights, weaving through traffic, running from cops etc.

    Won't ride on the road anymore because of the texting drivers. Every car that passes @ 50mph had me thinking "is this the one?"
    I'm 51 w/wife, kids. Not worth it.

    Sold road bike, buying second mountain bike.
    2020 Turbo Levo SL Expert Carbon

  14. #14
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    I much prefer my ebike on the road, I can be out in the street on alot of roads and just ride in the lane. If it's a busier/faster road I'll be in the bike lane but at least I can go 30mph and cars won't be passing so quickly. I'd rather be riding on trails but it's the best way for me to get to work.

    I also have a bunch of flashing lights so hopefully will be noticed!

    But it sounds like you are more concerned with your own riding skill atm, get some beefier tires that will handle any bad maneuvers.

  15. #15
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    I also have massive light power both forward and aft. People actually claim that my 250 lumen red blinker hurts their eyes! So, riding at night actually has me feeling safer than riding pavement during daylight.
    I ride the same route, basically: it's 6 miles to and from the small trail system that's closest to me. I ride there, do 1-3 laps around the area, and then ride the 6 miles home on pavement.

    Also, riding street in my town on my FS trail bike is actually much nicer, if slower, than doing it on a road bike. That's on account of the atrocious street/pavement maintenance....there really isn't any to speak of. So the FS with its wide tires just soaks up the potholes like they are a mild inconvenience, instead of a potentially fatal hazard.
    I just won't ride the roads here on 23c tires anymore.
    Just call me Ray

  16. #16
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    I don't ride on roads at all, but definitely get the anxiety part. I got "the talk" from 2 doctors years ago after a bad crash with a neck injury, and although I am back to riding every day there are definitely some triggers there. Drops are the biggest for me, since that's where I got hurt, and since then I get whiplash like injuries really easy. Right now it's all I have in me to hit a 2'er. It doesn't help that my old riding pal got paralyzed on a big drop just after I got hurt. My plan is to build a small training area with a few very predictable drops from 2-4' just to get my confidence back, then take it to the trail. Might work, might not but at least I'm riding and that's better than some people get.

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