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Conquering the fear of falling-advice?

Old 03-20-22, 12:09 AM
  #1  
kunoichi
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Conquering the fear of falling-advice?

I'm curious to hear from other riders who started or restarted riding later in life how they got over any fear of falling. I was so excited to get my bike (well, adult trike) but we had some issues getting it properly assembled and now that it is, I'm scared to go out. It seems like in researching trying to figure out my original assembly problems that I must have hit every horror story on there. I went with a trike vs. a bike in part due to balance issues,so it's scary to hear people talk about all the things that can go wrong and how steep the learning curve is.

I know part of my fear is my age in general- I'm 41 and not in the greatest health- , which I hope to improve in part by riding. Part of it is my generalized anxiety disorder. But after reading all this my thoughts are kind of driving me crazy, so I'd love to hear any encouraging stories and bits of wisdom you have!

ETA: I appreciate all the responses on this! I had to return the trike because the seat clamp was welded too far apart for it to keep the seat in place no matter who sat on it or what we did. I was told it was unfixable.
After listening to a lot of trike riders, and after reading this thread and ones like it started by others, I decided to bite the bullet and get a bike. I've been watching a lot of YouTube tutorials and while I'm still scared of falling, it sounded like the chances were decent of doing the same thing on the trike. I'm just going to start out super slow and daily and go from there. I am determined to get past this!

Last edited by kunoichi; 03-26-22 at 03:59 AM. Reason: clarification
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Old 03-20-22, 12:54 AM
  #2  
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Is it a recumbent trike (2 front wheels) or an upright trike (2 rear wheels)?

If it is a standard upright trike, I can understand your fear as they are not very stable.

Recumbent trikes have a low center of gravity and two wheels upfront adds stability. I’m not sure how one would go about falling on a recumbent trike.

John
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Old 03-20-22, 05:13 AM
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wear a helmet you'll be ok
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Old 03-20-22, 05:36 AM
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Start off with the easiest safest quietest places to ride; bike paths, and quiet streets. Do these first rides in off-hours to further avoid cars and other people. Confidence will come with time on the bike. Modern bike helmets are amazing, wear it and your noggin is in a pretty safe place. I re-started riding in Nov '21 after 50 years off the bike.
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Old 03-20-22, 05:40 AM
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​​​I'm wondering if other people with anxiety disorders have some advice on how they got back on the bike.
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Old 03-20-22, 05:51 AM
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I remember that fear when I was a kid learning to ride a bike.

Solution to that fear was wearing additional protection to a helmet like elbow and knee pads. The pads did their job. I'd have plenty of bruises and scrapes if I didn't have them.
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Old 03-20-22, 09:13 AM
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Are your balance issues an actual physical medical problem, or just something you're concerned about (psychological) ? If the latter, try looking up the physics of how a bicycle operates in its upright position and how its more stable when moving. You could also try riding a two-wheel bicycle in a quiet area at a very slow speed and practice balancing on it. Also look at the physics of how a three-wheeler operates whether its one tire up front/two tires up front (one tire up front is not as stable due to physics involved in cornering).
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Old 03-20-22, 12:27 PM
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This probably won't help your fear, but there are two kinds of bicyclists: ones who have fallen and ones who will fall. And belonging to the first group does not take you out of the second group. The good news is, falling isn't normally a big deal. Learn to fall by 'flopping' onto the ground rather than by sticking your arms out, and wear a helmet. Arms can't support the body's weight very well but legs and hips (butt) can. I've fallen many times and although I don't plan it, I'm sure I'll fall more in the future.

Trikes can prevent a lot of falls. An 'adult trike' is usually an upright delta design, with one wheel in front and two in back. Their weakness is in turns: off-camber or fast turns can cause the trike to lift the inside wheel & dump the rider. Just go slow in the turns and you'll be OK. Most but not all recumbent trikes are 'tadpole' designs, with two wheels in front and a low seat. Even these can flip, although you almost have to try by taking a turn at high speed. One trike rider I know took a corner so fast that he couldn't hang on and went flying, while the trike happily went around the corner without him. He was about 70 at the time,and there was no damage except his pride.
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Old 03-20-22, 01:37 PM
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Have worked with a number of adults who either had not ridden since they were a child or never learned.
The fear of falling is common. Truth is - you will take a spill at some time. Wear a helmet and gloves.
don't have to to be fancy cycling gloves, simple light weight material gloves from the hardware are quite good for this.
On to riding .......take the pedals off your cycle, lower the seat so you can easily touch the ground sitting on the saddle and on a fairly flat surface
propel yourself with your feet on the ground. Do this for a few days to get comfortable with "riding" the cycle, turning and braking etc.
Then raise the saddle and put the pedals back on - go riding, you will be fine
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Old 03-20-22, 02:07 PM
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If you fall on a low recumbent, your feet, legs and hips will likely take the force. If you topple over, you might only have 12-20 inches to fall, which is much less than on an upright. Legs deal with forces better than elbows, arms, clavicles, ribs, scalupa, etc. I ride both a recumbent and upright bikes. Any recumbent crash has been fairly uneventful. Plus, a three wheeled trike (tadpole or delta) are much easier to balance crawling 3 mph up a hill than on an upwrong.
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Old 03-20-22, 03:04 PM
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
This probably won't help your fear, but there are two kinds of bicyclists: ones who have fallen and ones who will fall. And belonging to the first group does not take you out of the second group. The good news is, falling isn't normally a big deal. Learn to fall by 'flopping' onto the ground rather than by sticking your arms out, and wear a helmet. Arms can't support the body's weight very well but legs and hips (butt) can. I've fallen many times and although I don't plan it, I'm sure I'll fall more in the future.

Trikes can prevent a lot of falls. An 'adult trike' is usually an upright delta design, with one wheel in front and two in back. Their weakness is in turns: off-camber or fast turns can cause the trike to lift the inside wheel & dump the rider. Just go slow in the turns and you'll be OK. Most but not all recumbent trikes are 'tadpole' designs, with two wheels in front and a low seat. Even these can flip, although you almost have to try by taking a turn at high speed. One trike rider I know took a corner so fast that he couldn't hang on and went flying, while the trike happily went around the corner without him. He was about 70 at the time,and there was no damage except his pride.
I support BlazingPedals comments!
When I was first learning to ski the first lesson we all got how to fall. One you have fallen correctly a few times there is no longer anything to worry about. In fact the falls can become part of the fun.
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Old 03-20-22, 03:50 PM
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Fear is best conquered incrementally in small steps. As mentioned above, select a safe place to practice for 5-10 minutes, or whatever you feel comfortable with. Gradually raise your time on the bike while you also start to move from your secure practice area to a multi-use trail or similar. Each step you take and master, give yourself a pat on the back. Reflect on what you did well and on areas to improve. Fear can be used to your advantage since if you think of conquering it as a challenge to overcome. By taking small measured steps, you eventually will be able to look back and say, that really was easier than I expected.

Best wishes.
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Old 03-20-22, 04:34 PM
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Not sure my advice applies to your specific case, but when I started riding again at age 67 after 40 years off, I did feel a bit uneasy and unstable. After a few months I felt much more comfortable, just getting used to riding again. So my advice: just ride.
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Old 03-20-22, 06:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Lambkin55 View Post
I support BlazingPedals comments!
When I was first learning to ski the first lesson we all got how to fall. One you have fallen correctly a few times there is no longer anything to worry about. In fact the falls can become part of the fun.
Not when it comes to road biking!
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Old 03-20-22, 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Lambkin55 View Post
I support BlazingPedals comments!
When I was first learning to ski the first lesson we all got how to fall. One you have fallen correctly a few times there is no longer anything to worry about. In fact the falls can become part of the fun.
I agree, it was such fun hooking an edge on ice at 50 mph. I do pity the poor sapling that my back snapped off. And double flatting over road debris at speed on my road bike was even better. Sometimes us humans need to teach immovable objects a lesson like real men of yore.
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Old 03-20-22, 11:15 PM
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I’m going to backtrack a bit on upright trike stability. At slow speeds it is safer that a bicycle.

I think the first step for you is to just sit on it. It doesn’t matter if it is in the garage, or patio, or even a living room, just sit on the bike without peddling.

After you realize you are not going to fall while standing still, turn the pedals once and use the brake.

From there find a flat area and peddle a little and use the brakes.

If you ride fairly slow, chances are you will never fall on a trike. A lot of older people fall on bikes at very slow speeds or stopping because you need to balance a bike.

John

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Old 03-21-22, 05:30 AM
  #17  
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Originally Posted by kunoichi View Post
I'm curious to hear from other riders who started or restarted riding later in life how they got over any fear of falling.................................. I went with a trike vs. a bike in part due to balance issues,so it's scary to hear people talk about all the things that can go wrong and how steep the learning curve is. ............................................................. Part of it is my generalized anxiety disorder. But after reading all this my thoughts are kind of driving me crazy, so I'd love to hear any encouraging stories and bits of wisdom you have!
As mentioned, if you tried to ride a regular trike, you ALREADY had one strike against you. They are UNSTABLE and do not handle very well.

Test ride a JOYRIDER (if you can find one) and see how much JOY you can have.

https://www.industrialbicycles.com/T...der-Trike.aspx

or even this >>>>

https://www.kohls.com/product/prd-12...E&gclsrc=aw.ds

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Old 03-21-22, 05:39 AM
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Originally Posted by skidder View Post
Are your balance issues an actual physical medical problem or just something you're concerned about (psychological)?
Both. I'm afraid of falling because last time I fell (while walking, trying to maneuver to put a car between me and a vicious dog) I was only walking, but the knee I injured has never been the same since. I'm afraid of another injury like that. Medical-wise, I'm on a medication that can affect balance as a side effect, I have a medical condition that can cause balance issues as well, and balancing skills and my weight gain also seem to be connected. I can no longer do stairs without holding on to a rail, for example.
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Old 03-21-22, 06:47 AM
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Originally Posted by kunoichi View Post
Both. I'm afraid of falling because last time I fell (while walking, trying to maneuver to put a car between me and a vicious dog) I was only walking, but the knee I injured has never been the same since. I'm afraid of another injury like that. Medical-wise, I'm on a medication that can affect balance as a side effect, I have a medical condition that can cause balance issues as well, and balancing skills and my weight gain also seem to be connected. I can no longer do stairs without holding on to a rail, for example.

Do you have a path or a park near you where you can try things at low speed? Preferably somewhere where you'd land on grass if something went wrong.

I've had some problems maintaining balance on stairs because of ankle/foot issues and I know those were a lot worse when I was very heavy, but balancing on a two-wheel bike has never been an issue for me at any weight. No idea if that's true for you, but I wouldn't just assume that problems on stairs means you'll have problems on a bike.
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Old 03-21-22, 06:56 AM
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Originally Posted by kunoichi View Post
Both. I'm afraid of falling because last time I fell (while walking, trying to maneuver to put a car between me and a vicious dog) I was only walking, but the knee I injured has never been the same since. I'm afraid of another injury like that. Medical-wise, I'm on a medication that can affect balance as a side effect, I have a medical condition that can cause balance issues as well, and balancing skills and my weight gain also seem to be connected. I can no longer do stairs without holding on to a rail, for example.
My suggestion is to start doing some balance improving Yoga postures at home first. You also have to get control of your diet and get rid of the excess weight. I know it's incredibly difficult. I intentionally lost 160lbs a few years ago and started a fitness journey. I had to constantly watch inspiring videos to stay motivated. Here is one I hope helps. Good luck.
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Old 03-21-22, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by RH Clark View Post
My suggestion is to start doing some balance improving Yoga postures at home first.
I think that's a great bit of advice.
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Old 03-21-22, 08:22 AM
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Don't listen to the nervous Nellies who are discouraging you from riding. There are a lot of longtime recumbent trike riders out there who will tell you that trikes are safer than regular bikes in traffic simply because most drivers give you a lot more room when passing you. The part I read about not being seen is bogus too. If you can't see a 7 foot long object in the bike lane you need a white cane and a guide dog, not a drivers license. You do need to learn the handling characteristics for your trike. I could flip my Catrike 700 that sits 9" off the ground but it would take some pretty stupid maneuvers. I flipped an earlier trike just once in 19 years of riding trikes. If you have one of those higher seating granny trikes (like a Schwinn) just take it easy on the turns and don't be a speed demon. That's pretty unlikely anyway as they usually don't have the gearing needed to go really fast.
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Old 03-21-22, 08:33 AM
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Trikes are a bit odd compared to bikes, because a lot of steering from a bike comes from the lean, and a trike doesn't. It also follows the camber of the road so will feel like it's at a funny angle but it's unlikely to fall over in general use.
The risk is that with a conventional trike, if you turn too hard you can lift the inside wheel and tip over. The bigger the trike the less likely, though. My kid can flip his tiny trike with minimal effort (but he's got no sense of danger).

So, start somewhere flat and quiet, and just ride around a while, taking your time. Don't go too fast, don't try to turn aggressively, and get a feel for it. You should get an idea about it being unstable on turning with enough notice to ease off and avoid tipping it. If you're worried, you can always add some extra weight low down (such as the rear basket if there is one, or the frame somewhere. Ideally below the axle), which should make it a bit more stable.

You can always try riding on grass too; it'll be softer if you fall but will require a lot more work to move.
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Old 03-21-22, 09:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Lambkin55 View Post
In fact the falls can become part of the fun.

There is nothing fun about falling on a mountain bike or road bike.

The only fun I've had falling on a bike is the fat bike...because it's a soft landing in the snow.
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Old 03-21-22, 10:09 AM
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Welcome to Bike Forums Kunoichi !
Apprehension is very common to starting to ride; that feeling will come, but don;t let it dominate you.
As noted by Martianone, the small steps for introduction are important. The most successful way to teach young children (who have never ridden and also need to develop balance skills) is 'walking' the bike' first, then add additional elements and skills. This brings confidence and comfort as each element adds to the overall skill.
As Martianone noted, have the pedals temporarily removed from your trike. Have the seat adjusted so that you can sit and also place your feet onto the ground. Find a smooth, flat area without major obstructions. If available, a large, empty parking lot area is perfect for these exercises.

You may need some help in getting the trike there, or find a similar spot close to you. Even a wider side walk with good turnaround spots would work - stay off active streets.
While sitting on the bike, 'walk' it for a distance. After a short distance turn the bike while walking, to walk it back to the start point. After doing that a few times, do the same exercise, but allow the bike to 'coast' a short distance, by lifting your feet as the bike glides forward. This is the perfect time to learn to use the brakes, by very gently/lightly applying brake lever pressure, as you feel the effectiveness of the braking action. Gentle and smooth, let that develop.
take a break, let the tension of learning slip away. DO it all again.
Once you've become comfortable with 'coasting' in a straight line, slowly add 'turning' while coasting, all the while using 'braking' to keep your speed comfortable and controlled.
Do that for a while...
AN IMPORTANT ELEMENT: DON"T look down at the bike. ALWAYS have your visual attention to where you are going - LOOK FORWARD. If you start looking down, STOP. Recognize that you're looking down, and bring your attention forward again!
All this can be done in multiple sessions, until you've become comfortable with each additional element.
When you feel quite comfortable with all this, go to a different spot, with a different, but similar environment, and do all of the same elements again, Coasting, braking, turning.
When this again becomes comfortable, have your pedals put back on the trike.
Go back to the 1st exercise spot - Now, instead of 'walking' the bike, pedal slowly, allow the bike to coast, applying the brakes smoothly, and work towards turining the biek while coasting and then also pedaling.
You're now riding the bike/trike. What comes next is using your skills to ride in differeing environments. Go to the 2nd practice spot and do it all again.
You will become comfortable in riding in varied environments.
IMPORTANT - Try to do this every day, weather-permitting. Frequent practice is what develops your motor-balance skills body memory. Do it as often as possible!
DO think about falling, don;t worry about what will happen.
Wear a helmet, wear gloves. If you wear pants, make sure the pants leg on the side where the chain runs, is lightly secured to your lower leg and calf. Where you bought your trike and helmet will surely have velcro straps to help lightly secure that pants leg.
It WILL all be exciting and wonderful !!! Have wonderful time learning ! Learning is always the best of times !
Ride On
Yuri

Last edited by cyclezen; 03-21-22 at 10:14 AM.
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