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Overcoming fear

Posted: Mon Jul 20, 2015 11:26 am
by sidneyhayden
I'm new to this forum, found after googling, "overcoming fear on a motorcycle."

I've been riding for 15 years, my skills are solid, I ride a big bike, have ridden to and from Sturgis 6 times, etc. I have not had a crash, but three years ago, had a terrible case of vertigo that took almost a year to recover from. Once back on the bike, I did fine until I encountered specific situations, especially related to speed and surroundings (heavy traffic, multi-lane traffic, being followed too closely, etc.).

Now, I have completely unpredictable panic attacks. After a great ride going out this past Saturday, one hit coming home, where I was being tailgated in heavy traffic in the mountains and there was no place to pull over. The only thing I could do to maintain my own control and safety was to slow down. Still going the speed limit, but the driver behind me wasn't satisfied. Once I was finally able to get out of traffic and stop to get my nerves calmed, my husband told me that I'm a road hazard and it's time to hang up my keys. I listened quietly, got back on the bike, and rode home with no problem.

I don't want to give this up. We have a plan for handling future situations like that (I get off the road and calm down asap), but I need to get this under control. I either need therapy, or to limit my rides to only the most predictable, or....??? Open to opinions and advice. I had to overcome a lot of fear to get good at this, and I don't want to give up, but these incidents are not fun.

Re: Overcoming fear

Posted: Mon Jul 20, 2015 4:14 pm
by sunshine229
Hi Cindy,

Welcome to TMW! I am sorry to hear of your challenges. I might suggest that you talk to your doctor about your vertigo if you think that is still a problem. You would probably not want to be back out riding and have another vertigo attack. Also, doctors can help with anxiety.

That being said, if it's controllable anxiety that you want to work on then I suggest doing lots of practice riding in neighborhoods and back roads instead of being out in traffic. Work your way back up slowly. Kind of like when you first started riding. If you find at one step that you are too nervous to continue then you know where your boundary is and you either work to get past it or don't ride beyond it.

I am no doctor and nor have I suffered from this before, so I am just speaking from a supporting position and hope to give you a new way of thinking about the situation.

Mike (site owner) created a Beginner Biker's Guide, and you may want to take a look?

Re: Overcoming fear

Posted: Mon Jul 20, 2015 4:38 pm
by sidneyhayden
Thank you, Andrea. I will look at that - and may very well bite the bullet and go see a doc, too.

Re: Overcoming fear

Posted: Mon Jul 20, 2015 11:01 pm
by blues2cruise
sidneyhayden wrote: and may very well bite the bullet and go see a doc, too.
Good idea.

It's not easy when your husband is not supportive. That doesn't help with your anxiety at all.

I had some anxiety problems after I started riding again....when I would see someone doing the same thing that caused my crash...I would start feeling nauseous. Little by little that feeling went away.

Like you...I also don't like it when someone follows too closely....It's an intimidation tactic. I pull over as soon as I can find a space.....

Remember to give yourself lots of space between you and the car ahead.....and also....your hubby could ride behind you.

Re: Overcoming fear

Posted: Thu Jul 23, 2015 1:35 pm
by Honey Badger
I can't say that I've experienced exactly what you are going through, so my first and primary suggestion would be to visit a therapist or doctor to see if they have some pro tips on dealing with it without potentially placing yourself in harms way too much.

That being said, I've had a couple somewhat similar instances, triggered by a crash of my own. In 2012, at the track, I had what I call my "big crash." I was back riding 5 weeks later (as soon as I could operate a clutch), and while it slowed me down a bit (particularly in the corner I crashed in), it didn't stop me or stop my overall progress.

Then, almost a year later, while assisting at a crash scene that my group and I rolled up on, I had a flash back where some of the lost memories of my own crash filled in, but along with that I had a physical reaction as well. Not full on panic, I doubt anyone else noticed, but I sure did! Didn't think much of it until a few weeks later while sitting at a stop light the same thing happened where more memories kicked in and the physical reaction - almost like my body going into shock. Thankfully I was just sitting still and it passed after a minute, but that made me nervous about getting back to the track for fear that this could happen while riding in general.

In this case, I made an effort to remember and fill in those lost minutes since they were coming back on their own (I had a pretty good concussion at the time of the accident), and managed to fill in most of the blanks. I didn't have another incident after that, so I feel like it was almost more of a physical reaction to the memory than a "normal" panic attack.

This doesn't apply too much to your situation other than this: perhaps taking time to think about the things that scare you, imagine it in your mind (when you're NOT on a bike) and think of possible scenarios and means of dealing with it. Knowing your options is HUGE in overcoming fears, and realizing that you CAN control the situation may help prevent you from having a full panic attack. just a suggestion, again, not a professional in those fields at all!

Re: Overcoming fear

Posted: Fri Jul 31, 2015 7:04 am
by Loonette
Definitely have a doctor rule out anything that can be remedied with his/her help - you might possibly have an ear or sinus issue.

Try some daily meditation.... quiet time by yourself to keep the outside buzz away and reconnect with your self/spirit - this can often help disperse stress and worry.

Ride your own ride. Like the others have said, if you're feeling a bit "off", ride ahead of your husband so that you set the pace and space.

In the end, your safety and that of others is the most important thing out there. I have said for myself, that if I ever get to a point where my balance feels too compromised to be a safe two-wheeled rider, then I might be willing to take a Can-Am Spyder for a ride. ;-)

Best to you... keep us posted. <3


Re: Overcoming fear

Posted: Tue Dec 01, 2015 7:19 pm
by Kal
Hi Hayden

You already know that confidence is a key quality when riding and yours has taken a knock, so dont be hard on yourself. Selfcare was mentioned above.

You've had a medical issue, you've had a year not using these skills, you've not had a chance to desensitise yourself to other road users and as said above it doesnt sound like that your husband is choosing the best way to be supportive.

So self care, be kind to yourself, dont expect to pick up exactly where you left off with bikes, dont be hard on yourself. Practise riding skills and your confidence will come back.