What we do is dangerous. Plain and simple.
We’re riding a machine at speeds that would land us in prison on the road, and where making a mistake could mean jumping off that bike and doing a whole heap of damage to one of your favourite possessions, as well as yourself, both of which could mean substantial physical, mental and financial difficulty.
Reading that it makes you wonder why we even take part in this sport in the first place. But we all know why, because of the huge upside that comes from the exhilaration of being out there at those speeds, pushing yourself to be better and more at-one with your machine than you’ve ever been.
Even with that being the case, with the risks involved it inevitably means that there’s going to be some amount of nervousness around what you’re about to do, and that’s the first point I want to make here…
I’m not sure I’ve come across a rider that doesn’t experience some level of nervousness around riding bikes on the track at speed, particularly if it’s the rider’s goal to push their limits and go faster than they did before.
There’s so many unknowns ahead, some of which are out of our control, and like I just said there are risks to what we do where a small mistake could mean big consequences. As such it’s natural to feel nervous about these things before you head out there.
This can manifest in a few different ways, from a general feeling of trepidation, to making stops in the loo more times than you would like.
Even after 10 years of riding on the track I still get some of these feelings. Granted they aren’t quite as bad as they were in my earlier years, but a nervous anticipation is still there much of the time.
So we know that feeling nervous is normal, but in my experience there are some things that have helped to better deal with that feeling. Here’s a few to consider if this nervousness is affecting you to the point of becoming troublesome.
Yes there are dangers, but you are in control and taking part in this activity doesn’t have to the that dangerous if you approach things in the right way.
For instance, I’m sure if you were to knock 50% off your pace you’d feel pretty ok about staying the right way up for a whole session.
Now, most of you reading this will have the goal to go faster, so that’s a stupid thing to say really, but it just proves that ultimately you are in control of what you do, and you don’t have to race right into the unknown to make a step forward as a rider.
So think about how you’re going to be approaching your time on the track and realise that, if you’re being sensible, the risks are really quite low.
A lot of the nervousness will come as a result of a whole bunch of unknowns. Unknowns about how fast you can go, how much grip there is and what is and isn’t safe.
The best way to reduce those kinds of issues is to simply continue learning and improving as a rider. You might not believe it, but knowledge about correct riding technique can go a long way to reducing some of the fears around riding, sometimes without ever having to turn a wheel on the track.
Becoming more confident in what you’re supposed to be doing is going to tie right back into the previous point about riding in a safe way, and when you know how to ride safe that nervousness will most likely reduce.
Like I said, being nervous is a completely normal feeling to have. Accept that you can’t always completely remove that feeling and that it’s just your instinctive reaction to what your about to take part in.
Don’t think that you’re somehow not cut out for life on the track, because I can assure you the vast majority will be feeling many of the same feelings you are.
With time, more experience and with continued learning about the fundamentals of riding these feelings will begin to subside. Just don’t be surprised if there’s times when the feelings come back in certain situations.
For me I still sometimes feel them in instances like the first day out of the season, when I’m visiting a new track, or maybe when I’m riding with new people.
What almost always happens though is that once I get out there and start riding and I can see I do actually know what I’m doing, all of those feelings melt away and I go right back to enjoying my time on the track.
If any of this I’ve covered here sounds like you, just know that you’re in good company. Take this advice moving forward and use it to help you deal with and accept these uneasy feelings you may be having.
How to Deal With the Panic When Someone Takes Your Line
How to Get the Most from Your Track Time: Pre-Ride Prep & How to Approach Your Day
Learning to Trust Your Tyres Through Technique & Experience
Using Other Riders to Gauge Your Speed and Uncover Weaknesses