Conquering your cycling fears are a necessary requirement if you’re looking to get into either mountain or road biking but have inhibitions. These inhibitions are completely normal especially if you’ve never cycled much or if there’s been a long absence. As I reflect back on the main fears I had before getting back into cycling as an adult, I’d break these into six broad categories which we’ll discuss more on below.
Fear 1 – The Learning Curve
Cycling, like any new skill, comes with a learning curve. Rather than being afraid of making mistakes or looking inexperienced, view each challenge as an opportunity to learn and improve. Everyone starts somewhere, and seasoned cyclists were once beginners too. Embrace the process of learning and allow yourself the time to become more comfortable on a bike. Cyclists are generally a friendly bunch and extremely unlikely to judge anyone new. Anyone who does judge is simply not worth your time or concern anyway.
Fear 2 – The Right Environment
Start cycling in environments that suit your comfort level. Begin with quiet streets, bike paths, or parks before tackling busy roads. If you’ve never cycled, begin in a driveway practicing. Choosing a supportive and less intimidating environment can help build confidence gradually. As your skills and confidence grow, you can gradually explore more challenging routes. Take as long as you feel comfortable at each stage and recognize that you don’t have to “expand”. If you prefer cycling only on quiet streets or bike paths, that’s completely fine!
Fear 3 – The Right Community
Cycling communities, both online and offline, provide valuable support for beginners (including this site here!) Engaging with fellow cyclists can offer encouragement, advice, and motivation. Knowing that others share similar fears and have overcome them can be empowering. Joining group rides or participating in cycling events can also foster a sense of community and shared passion. As a sidenote, please know that you can contact the webmaster of this site (Ken) at any time with any question and I’d be happy to provide advice.
Fear 4 – Safety
This is a big one. You should know that pretty much every safety risk on a bike can be mitigated with the right preparation. Addressing any safety concerns with concrete actions will do wonders for easing anxiety. Invest in quality safety gear, including a helmet, reflective clothing, and lights for visibility. Familiarize yourself with local traffic rules and practice defensive cycling techniques. Taking a cycling safety course can boost your confidence and equip you with essential skills for navigating roads safely, but is not strictly necessary. Revisit fear 2; cycling in a comfortable environment for your preferred level will also enhance safety.
Fear 5 – Realistic Fitness Goals
Fear of not being fit enough is a common barrier for many beginners. Remember that cycling is adaptable to various fitness levels, and it’s a fantastic way to improve overall health. Set realistic and achievable fitness goals, gradually increasing intensity and duration as your strength and endurance improve. Celebrate small victories and acknowledge the progress you make along the way.
Fear 6 – Judgment
Shift your mindset from external judgments to personal enjoyment. Cycling is not only a form of exercise but also a source of pleasure and stress relief. Appreciate the freedom, fresh air, and scenery that cycling offers. When the focus shifts from external expectations to personal satisfaction, the fear of judgment becomes less significant.
Conquering your cycling fears involves a combination of embracing the learning process, choosing the right environment, seeking community support, prioritizing safety, setting achievable fitness goals, and focusing on personal enjoyment. By taking gradual steps and acknowledging progress, individuals can conquer their fears and embark on a fulfilling cycling journey. Remember this journey is about FUN and exploration. Cycling affords multiple ways to “choose your own journey” and so long as you are true to yourself, you will enjoy cycling for years to come!