How To Overcome Fear When Mountain Biking (5 Tips)

Learning how to overcome your fear when mountain biking can be challenging! In this in-depth guide, we walk you through actionable tips to help you build your confidence and start enjoying the riding.

So How do I Get Over my Fear of Mountain Biking?

The simplest way to get over mountain biking is to keep doing it – the more you do something, the more used to it you’ll get, and the less frightening you’ll find it. Eventually, it becomes all about the enjoyment, and the fear will completely fade! Which is when your confidence and skills can start to grow.

5 Awesome Tips To Overcome Your Fear When Mountain Biking?

Whilst experience is a great way to overcome the fear of mountain biking; there are also a number of other things that people can do to help confront and overcome their fears as they gain more and more experience.

Tips To Overcome My Fear Of Mountain Biking?

1. Break down the things that are making you nervous.

Is it a particular outcome? For example – going over the bars, or falling sideways in a steep, rocky section, or overshooting a particular turn? If you focus on these things rather than just the general fear, then you will be able to break down exactly what the issue is and what you need to do to achieve what you are trying to do on the feature. 

2. Be prepared.

Being prepared is another thing that follows from experience that can be a great help in overcoming fear. If you feel unsure about the steeper or more technical trails, or the larger features in the bike park, then don’t feel as though you have to do them straight away. Build yourself up to it so that you do not feel as though you are completely out of your comfort zone and so that you have the experience and the confidence to tackle them. Whilst overcoming fear is always a good thing, tackling something that you really do not feel ready for can lead to accidents, which can lead to further fear, and it just becomes a cycle that is hard to escape.

3. Just relax on the bike.

Telling someone who is afraid to “just relax” might not sound like the best possible advice, but with mountain biking, it works in quite specific ways. It’s important to remember to have faith in the bike – something that stems from the previous two points – and let it do what it wants to do. All of the components on the bike are set up to look after you and get you down the mountain, so relaxing lets them do what they are supposed to do. The bike will generally do all it can to find the best line – as it is, after all, just trying to get down the mountain, the same as you. The more that you relax on the bike, the better it will feel, and the more it will ride the way it’s supposed to.

4. Change your focus.

When you focus on what you don’t want to happen, it leads to increased nerves, and it makes it all the more likely that the things that you don’t want to happen actually will happen. Instead, if you focus on how to make the things you want to happen actually happen, then it is far more likely that you can overcome your fear and achieve your goals.

5. Experience.

Getting lots of time on the bike is still probably one the most effective ways to get over your fear of mountain biking. Most of the time, it can be a fear of the unknown that is holding you back. The more time that you spend riding your bike, the more used to the situations you become, and the more comfortable you will be. Before you know it, you will find yourself tackling trails and features that had seemed terrifying when you first started. The more that you ride your bike, the more faith you will have in it as well – faith that the suspension can take the hits you need it to, that the tires will grip, that the brakes will work.

What is Fear of Riding a Bike Called?

The fear of riding a bike is known as cyclophobia, or sometimes bicyclophobia

The word phobia comes from the Greek word phobos, which means fear or horror. 

Why Do I Get Anxiety When Mountain Biking ?

Fear of mountain biking can have a number of different causes, usually stemming from a negative experience. These experiences can often include:

Falling off a bike. 

This can often be traced back to a childhood incident, often from an experience when learning to ride a bike, or simply from a recent crash that you found particularly scary. Remember to get back on the bike as soon as you are ready so that you don’t build the crash up in your mind into something more than it really was.

Getting nausea from overexertion.

Sometimes it can be easy to overexert yourself when you’re riding with friends that are fitter or more experienced, or even from being over-enthusiastic. Just remember to take your time.

Getting dehydrated from riding a bike.

Dehydration affects riders in different ways, and cant make a long ride in the heat less than enjoyable. This once can be remedied simply by remembering to take enough hydration, drinks with salts are great for this purpose.

Getting tired out and frustrated. 

We all have our off days, and sometimes it can feel like we’re putting in 110% and getting nowhere. On days like this, it’s probably best to either take it easy or have a rest day.

Why is Mountain Biking So Scary?

Fear of Mountain Biking
Overcome Your Fear of Mountain Biking

Mountain biking can trigger fears that other forms of biking, such as road cycling, don’t. There are a few reasons for this.

The steepness of the terrain can be daunting. Simply looking at the runs can be enough to give people the fear. Looking down a slope can be intimidating.

Altitude. The altitude in the mountains, plus the surrounding landscape, can be enough to overwhelm some people.

Over-thinking. When confronted with a rooty or rocky section, it can cause people to over-think what they are doing and lead to anxiety, particularly if they focus on what could go wrong.

New experiences. New runs or hitting new features can be daunting and cause people to freeze up. The fear of the unknown can be a powerful force in holding you back. 

Other Tricks To Over my Fear of Mountain Biking? 

A lot of the time, the fear can be increased by your own mind, telling yourself that you aren’t good enough or that you can’t do something. If you ride with friends, then they will help you to ignore the negative voices in your head and give you extra encouragement. This can be enough to help you do the things that you have been trying to do. Also, if there is a friend who is a lot more confident than you, it can help to follow them into the sections or features that you find scary. They will help push you, show you how it should be done, and help get you doing what you should be doing.

Know your strengths.

Be honest with yourself about the things that you are good at and work on those things, rather than beating yourself up about the things that you are not so good at. While it’s good to try and build on your weaknesses if that is what is giving you the fear and holding you back, then take some time doing the things that you are best at, and you will find that you feel happier on the bike.

Simple Ways To Build Confident On A Mountain Bike? (5 Top Tips)

When you have tackled the fear, then it is time to build your confidence, which will help you to get rid of the last vestiges of fear that might remain. As with dealing with fear, practice really is the best way to gain more confidence. There are other steps that can also be taken.

1. Practice Technique.

As the old saying goes, ‘practice makes perfect, and this is very true when it comes to building confidence on a mountain bike. Focus on technique rather than becoming more confident. As you become much more skilled on a mountain bike, your confidence will naturally grow!

2. Positivity. 

Now that you have stopped thinking about what could go wrong, it’s time to really focus on what you want to do right. Tell yourself that you can do it and focus on the successes that you have rather than any failures that you might encounter. 

3. Get Lessions

Mountain bike clinics. Specific clinics to help you build up your skillset will help you improve on any of your weaknesses and get better techniques so that your confidence will keep growing.

4. The right bike.

It takes some time to find the absolute right bike for you, as well as the right setup, but the more you learn, the more you will know just what it is that you want from a bike and from the bike’s set up so that you will have more confidence in the equipment that you are using and you will feel much more comfortable riding.

5. Having fun.

Don’t stress out when things don’t go according to plan. Relax, have fun, and your confidence will continue to grow, and you’ll find that the things that were holding you back seem to fade away.

Some other posts you may find useful:

If you want to understand more about fear in mountain biking Pinkbike did a good post here

Peter Ballin

Pedro is the primary writer on the site. He’s raced downhill and enduro at a high level, spannered at mountain bike world cups, and also written a book called Mountain Bike Maintenance. He’s appeared in both print & online major media publications across the Uk, France, and Japan (and even appeared on French Television). He’s made his living from bikes in various forms, from mountain bike guiding in France and Spain, Trail building in New Zealand and Canada, and working as a bike mechanic in the French Alps for many years. Pedro loves a good adventure and is often settling random challenges like riding down Mount Fuji, swimming across Lake Geneva, and hitchhiking across America.