Crashing is not something any of us try or want to do, but because of the very nature of track days, unfortunately crashing is inherently part and parcel of them and it’s something that can leave us with little confidence and a lack of mojo to continue on.
I have personally played victim to the physical and mental anguish that comes after an accident (which you can read here), so I know firsthand what you are likely to be feeling, but also what’s needed to get over a fear of crashing so you can start enjoying yourself again.
Below I have outlined five steps you should take to not only help you get back in the saddle, but also get you back up to speed.
1. Learn what caused it – The most important thing you can do after having a crash is to learn from it and establish why it happened. If you know why it happened you can then begin to work on a correction to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
From this point on while riding, you should focus on the correction and not the mistake. If the mistake occupies your mind while you’re out riding this will no doubt have you feeling scared and uneasy out on track, sapping any sort of enjoyment in the process. Focus on your solution and when you see you’re getting it right and you’re going round the same corner just fine, your confidence will begin to build back up.
2. Get back on your steed – This comes in very close second to the above. The less amount of time between your crash and getting back out there the better. Don’t give those demons a chance to rise to the surface in the time you’re off the bike. Get straight back out if you can to stand the best chance of picking up somewhere close to where you left off and getting yourself back up to speed.
3. Take it slow when you get back on – Don’t expect to hop straight back on the bike and go just as fast as before. Take your time and build your speed up slowly and don’t get despondent if you feel you’re not going as quick as before, that is completely natural and it happens to the majority of people after a crash.
It will take time, but if you take it slow and just get used to being on a bike again you’ll find in time your speed will increase nicely. Why not make it easy for yourself and pick just one corner to focus on at your favourite track, break it down and work on it until you can confidently say you’re going as well as before without any problems, then move on to the next corner. Give yourself easily achievable goals rather than trying to tackle everything all at once.
4. Realise you’re not a bad rider, you just made a mistake – People make mistakes in all areas of life and that’s all you’ve done, it just so happens that in the instance of track days the consequences are generally higher than say….throwing red pants in the white wash.
Do not see a mistake as a personal flaw, you simply done something in a way that hasn’t proved to be correct, so learn from it so you can prevent it happening again, then cast away all worry because we don’t need to think about it anymore.
5. Try some training – Getting some training either from a structured school or a 1-to-1 coach can be a great way boost confidence by working on the areas that are troubling you, and once you have found a solution to your problem you could find that an area you thought was not so good becomes one of the strongest parts of your riding. Training really can be that good and it was one of the things that helped me not only get back up to speed, but also surpass the level I had reached before.
Trying to get over a track day crash is no easy task, especially if it has affected more than just a few bumps and bruises. You may find that you have lost a lot of enthusiasm for track days as a result but fear not, this is completely normal and by taking positive steps you can wade through all the crappy feelings and rediscover why you got involved with bike track days in the first place.
Just don’t give up! With persistence humans can tackle any problem, and beating our fears and conquering demons is no exception.
How to Get the Most from Your Track Time: Pre-Ride Prep & How to Approach Your Day
How to Deal With the Panic When Someone Takes Your Line
Learning to Trust Your Tyres Through Technique & Experience
Using Other Riders to Gauge Your Speed and Uncover Weaknesses