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Fear of Biking

Old 04-23-21, 07:14 PM
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Fear of Biking

I have been a lover of bike riding since I was 6 (Im now 68) I have logged miles and miles. In 2018 I had 3 cervical (7-disks) fusions. I hopped back on my bike after regaining my balance. ( I had to relearn how to walk and grasp with my hands) A year ago, my Lumbar started to shift and I had trouble with my balance, again, and had to stop biking, thus Lumbar (5-disk) fusion last fall. I bought a 7 speed trike-but it is hard to ride and not the same. I hope to get on my bike again, but I have developed a fear of biking. Im looking for advice on how to over come this fear and learn how to ride again (like a little kid I guess)-at most, or learn how to get used to riding the trike at least. Thanks so much!
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Old 04-23-21, 07:31 PM
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I would avoid riding on public roads. Try to find a wide, flat and uncrowded bike path and build up your confidence.
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Old 04-23-21, 07:32 PM
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A couple of things. First is that people tend to see all fear as irrational. That if they're afraid of something, it's because their monkey brain is all messed up and they just need to go for it.

It sounds like, physically, you've been through some stuff and may not be operating at 100% capability. I would first ask whether this fear is a perfectly justified signal from your body that maybe you're not as in control of your bike as you once were. If this is the case, it might be safer for you to stick to a trike, and of course, there is nothing wrong with that. You're miles ahead of people who choose to sit on the couch.

If you can honestly say that you are perfectly capable of riding a bike, then I would recommend finding a bike with cruiser geometry that keeps your butt low and back. This allows your feet to easily reach the ground while seated and lowers your CoM, reducing the severity of fall injury. I believe it also reduces the potential for going over the bars when braking. Cruisers also tend to be more stable.

What kind of bike do you have right now?
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Old 04-23-21, 07:49 PM
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I don't know. Those fears sound totally rational to me.

I broke my ankle rather severely a few years ago. I turned 50 on crutches. It had nothing to do with biking, but it forever changed my ability to bike. I am rather more cautious now. Low gearing and disc brakes on a custom bike was my way of addressing this.

Is the trike upright? You might prefer a recumbent trike, especially if balance continues to be an issue. My son has a friend who had a stroke that impairs his balance. The recumbent trike is an almost magical means to liberation.
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Old 04-23-21, 08:26 PM
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If, more likely when, I have balance issues, I’ll probably look for a lightweight e-assist recumbent trike.

I would more fearful of cornering on a standard 2 rear wheel trike than riding a bike.

John
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Old 04-24-21, 08:37 AM
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I'm 68 y/o and while I don't suffer with serious back issue as you, I know that my balance skills are not what they use to be. Your fear is rational.

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Old 04-24-21, 08:52 AM
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Old 04-24-21, 09:05 AM
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Old 04-24-21, 09:10 AM
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If you haven't tried a recumbent trike, I would see if you can find a place that would let you test ride.

I met a guy on the road a year or so ago who was in a similar situation. He had been a serious cyclist/tourer but back problems made it impossible to ride a road bike or any upright bike. When I came across him he was doing hill repeats on his trike getting in shape to do a San Francisco to L.A. ride. He said the trike was a blast and he was enjoying cycling as much as ever.

I hope you find something that will allow you to keep cycling but don't discount the fear as just something to overcome.
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Old 04-24-21, 09:18 AM
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You don't say what sort of trike that you have. I'm guessing that it's an upright delta (1 wheel in front and 2 in back). As others have suggested, you should try out a "tadpole" recumbent trike. These have double wheels in front and are more stable. They are on the expensive side but perhaps you can find a shop to work with you. I recommend browsing BentRider Online for additional insight.
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Old 04-24-21, 09:37 AM
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I'm expecting that the day will come that I too am a little wobbly on and off a bike. I figure at that time I'll be looking for a recumbent trike.

Hope I can get enough crap out of my garage by that time so I'll have a place to store it. Might just have to build another garage! <grin>
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Old 04-24-21, 09:47 AM
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I'm riding with an injured arm still in the process of healing and physical therapy. My ability to balance the bike is definitely off by a bit.

There are times I genuinely feel like I'm losing balance and going to fall over for no reason. Definitely a reason to fear.

I still ride my road bike. How I'm dealing with this fear is riding at slower speeds for now (I have only kept my normal speed on uphills since you're going slower uphill anyway). I have also lowered my seat so I can stick my foot out in case I do lose balance. Lowering a seat can be a problem to some with knee issues, maybe not if you're going to ride slower with easy gears.

I've also begun to ride with additional protective gear, other than helmet....Full finger gloves and elbow and knee pads to help mitigate the greater risk of falling due to impaired balance.
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Old 04-24-21, 11:26 AM
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Since you asked how to overcome your fear, the first question is what will be the impact to your back if you fall/low speed crash on your bike? If your doctor says it could be catastrophic and impact even a basic quality of life, then your fears are well founded and overcoming them may not be the prudent thing to do. Look for a recumbent trike and go have fun. But if your doctor has told you not to worry about riding and that a fall or low speed crash won't be any more of an issue for you than anyone else, you "might" be able to overcome your balance issues/fears.

A few years ago I was at the gym and I saw an older woman balancing on the hard platform side of a Bosu ball on one foot and extending the other leg while using weights in her hands. Very impressive. I talked to her, not that I would ever attempt what she was doing, but she said it really helped her with her balance especially as she is getting older. I use one in a doorway at home, so I can catch myself and not fall (and use both feet), to help me continue to surf. I'm just starting to use it again in hopes of getting back in the water after more than a year and a half. At 69 we'll see how that goes, but I feel it helps with my balance regardless.

Maybe have a couple people spot you and try to track stand. I've never tried to track stand, and can't give you any advice, but if you can control your balance while standing still it might go a long ways to give you balance confidence when you are riding.

John
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Old 04-24-21, 11:29 AM
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I started riding again last summer/fall after about 10 years off. When I started, I was spooked for a while and rode mainly back streets, but after a while I started slowly getting desensitized and rode in progressively more traffic. After a month or so, I was back to riding to my shop downtown (Chicago Loop) straight down State Street (That Great Street). It didn't hurt that at that time there was hardly any traffic anywhere, but as it's come back I've been OK with it.

I don't think you should count on the way you feel the first few times out will be the way you will feel forever.

What still freaks me out, but it did before, is riding on multiple use paths where I have to deal with bikers and pedestrians who are totally clueless and inattentive and can do virtually anything at any moment, and I still won't go there. At least on the roads the drivers around here are scared of bikes and try to keep their distance, for the most part. Walkers don't give a second thought to suddenly doing a hard left without a glance behind them across a busy path to look at some shiny thing, and THAT is scary when you're ten feet behind and closing when they take off on their quest!

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Old 04-24-21, 01:02 PM
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Will your doc give you a prescription for physical therapy to improve your balance?
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Old 04-25-21, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by mdarnton View Post
I don't think you should count on the way you feel the first few times out will be the way you will feel forever.
Decidedly not. I'm waiting on a shorter seatpost after a first spin around the block following a 30+ year hiatus, and if I went by that "first time out" feel I'd have a brand new bike for sale rather than new parts ordered. But balance in my case seemed to improve within minutes although I'm still going to need to be cautious until I get a few more miles of practice in. Getting the seat down to where I can stop without rolling over sideways (which was the end of my first and only ride so far) is the current priority and I'll go from there. Thus far every doctor I'm seeing is on board with the idea, assuming of course reasonable precautions.
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Old 04-28-21, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by GlennR View Post
I would avoid riding on public roads. Try to find a wide, flat and uncrowded bike path and build up your confidence.
I would definitely avoid it as well. I'm actually so scared of this pandemic that I'm aware I won't be able to ride as I used to until things are back to normal.
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Old 04-29-21, 06:22 PM
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Try sailing.
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Old 04-29-21, 07:47 PM
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Just hopped on the bike for the first time in 10+ years and i had a bit of a moment of fear ... but it sounds to me, as others have said, that your fear may be far more rational than mine was.

Even still, i hope you get back out there comfortably soon
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Old 04-29-21, 11:42 PM
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If your doc and PT okay it, you might benefit from some conditioning time on an airdyne type stationary bike (involving both arms and legs) and/or a rowing machine if your spine issues don’t rule it out. These two machines and step-ups brought me back at the age of 60 after a bad motorcycle wreck that resulted in a full open book pelvic fracture with other injuries involving my lower lumbar spine, a collapsed lung, ruptured bladder, and associated MRSA infection from 5 surgeries and the prolonged hospital stay. The bosu ball is a good suggestion too, but the ol’ airdyne is still an awesome piece of exercise equipment and was a good and safe way for me to regain some muscle memory before getting back out on the road.
Good luck!
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Old 04-30-21, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by SurferRosa View Post
Try sailing.
A small racing sailboat and a bad back is a recipe for disaster.

John
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Old 04-30-21, 11:20 AM
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If you can afford it maybe look at a electric trike/recumbent? If cycling was a social activity for you and some of the problem is keeping up this might be the solution. Otherwise maybe doing Yoga or Taichi may help improve your balance?
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Old 04-30-21, 12:13 PM
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I too have been making changes to my ride, ridding style, and route. It's what I have to do in order to ride. I am pretty sure after my next fall I'll be grounded. I almost fear that more than an injury, so I am extra careful.

My friend recovering from a stroke fixed up a used WalMart three wheeler. He changed out allot of things on it over the months and had a good time doing it as he regained his balance. He replaced the crank, freewheel, and rebuilt the wheels. He also made major changes to his seat type and bars. Main thing is he had a real fun time doing it and I am sure it too was a good part of his recovery. He is now on a comfortable Hybrid two wheeler.

So what I am saying here is to adapt and overcome. As we get older it's a must...
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Old 04-30-21, 01:42 PM
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Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
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Is that an air horn?
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Old 04-30-21, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by msu2001la View Post
Is that an air horn?
RED> Friendly Horn
Blue > Marine Air Horn for Protection from Dogs
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