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Dealing with road anxiety!


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This does sound like an experience issue, as the guys above mentioned. If you are unsure, you are unsafe, both to yourself as well as to others. That’s no state to be in when riding with traffic. You have already experienced this as well.

NYC traffic is surely one of the most extreme conditions, and you shouldn’t blame yourself if it’s simply too much for you altogether. But first, mile up!

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20 hours ago, Unbihexium said:

Did any other riders here have anxiety issues when first starting to take their wheel on the road? 

Who! Me? No, I just enjoy riding in my living room :).

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@Unbihexium

I think it is fairly normal to feel the way that you do. After all you can’t even explain to me how you steer that contraption you are riding. Your logic brain is overriding your natural balance center and telling you that this is not possible. You should be on the ground bleeding. Can cars even see you? I think you are invisible. 
 

So? Where are we at? Can you ride the wheel better than a bicycle yet? If not you need more practice. You need to spend time riding on safe trails that require you to turn and follow a path. While you are at it learn to carve. Don’t let your logic brain balance the wheel. Make the logic brain look for pot holes and keep track of traffic. 
At some point you should get better on your EUC than your bicycle. When that happens you are more upright and aware than most cyclists. Take the mind set that you are on a bicycle and follow the same rules. Would this bother you if you were on a bicycle? 
Yes you can be seen but watch out for cars. I feel more comfortable on downtown city roads than on rural roads. The traffic is slower and cars are more on the lookout for bicycles and pedestrians. It is all about perspective. 

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21 hours ago, Unbihexium said:

Did any other riders here have anxiety issues when first starting to take their wheel on the road? 

I find that I get very anxious whenever I take my V11 out on the road and it significantly affects my control of the wheel especially when dealing with uneven road surfaces or controlling speed wobble. I've heard from experienced riders that wobble becomes much more common when anxious or stressed because those fine muscles in the leg become more taut and stiff, kinda like how your handwriting gets more erratic from drinking too much coffee,and oh boy do I experience that firsthand here in the crowded streets of NYC. 

This has caused me one crash in traffic while trying to stop at an intersection already and recently has gotten even worse because I made the mistake of going out riding jittery after drinking a lot of coffee and having just pumped my tire to a higher pressure. This combination left my feet shaking as an automobile was passing me during my grocery run-and I was in a bike lane! I can't imagine how unsafe this state would be in open road conditions. To make matters worse, I found myself struggling to even turn properly as if I had forgotten many of my skills. I certainly am not that bad when riding as a hallway hero! I needed a good hour of riding around an empty lot just to get back to normal. 

Should I just keep putting miles on my wheel and putting myself out there to improve this? Does anyone have any strategies or tricks to deal with stiff muscles and keep riding beyond simply getting more experience? Do you also have any tricks that personally help you stay calm and comfortable on the road? 

TL;DR Anxiety makes muscles stiff and hard to ride with. Any tricks that can help? 

You are nucking futz. If you arent comfortable and VERY good on a wheel, I dont think riding among traffic and NYC especially, is a very safe idea. Far be it from me to say that you shouldnt, but obviously you are nervous as you realize how dangerous it is. Hell, being in control of an euc in traffic is dangerous. Being new and unable to safely avoid obstacles at speed and recognize problems, makes it even more nerve wracking. Lack of muscle tone and lack of skill adds up to what you are describing. I've been riding a while and I am still not sure of my abliity to ride 'safely' among traffic. TO each their own for sure!

Edited by ShanesPlanet
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Thank you so much for the replies everyone! 

It looks like the main consensus is more miles and practicing braking and maneuvering and I fully agree with you there. It's just strange to me that in the 100-some-odd miles I put in doing all the various exercises I've managed to ride reasonably in lots and other safe areas but on the road where I'm doing the same thing I start to panic and all my skills go out the window!

I know this is not a lot of experience in the grand scheme of things at all, but I definitely know that I'd have a far better shot if I could ride the same way I do when I'm not convulsing in panic. 

For now I'll just keep seeking out new hallways to be a hero in and occasionally wandering into those scary bike lanes until hopefully the big metal boxes stop being so scary 😅

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1 hour ago, Unbihexium said:

Thank you so much for the replies everyone! 

It looks like the main consensus is more miles and practicing braking and maneuvering and I fully agree with you there. It's just strange to me that in the 100-some-odd miles I put in doing all the various exercises I've managed to ride reasonably in lots and other safe areas but on the road where I'm doing the same thing I start to panic and all my skills go out the window!

I know this is not a lot of experience in the grand scheme of things at all, but I definitely know that I'd have a far better shot if I could ride the same way I do when I'm not convulsing in panic. 

For now I'll just keep seeking out new hallways to be a hero in and occasionally wandering into those scary bike lanes until hopefully the big metal boxes stop being so scary 😅

What you just described is the classic performance anxiety that anyone who has participated in sports tournaments, or had to perform in front of an audience has experienced. You can put 10,000 miles in the parking lot and once you go into unfamiliar territory, the skills seem to fall out the window and you being aware of this will freak out even more and worsen the situation.

In your case you need more miles to begin with and then star practicing on quiet residential streets first. Slowly working up to larger and busier streets. If you don't have a drivers license and don't know the rules of the road, or you've never commuted on roads with a bike, my opinion is you shouldn't be on the road.

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On 4/8/2021 at 3:01 PM, Unbihexium said:

Did any other riders here have anxiety issues when first starting to take their wheel on the road? 

Yes , very much to the point my legs shaked because i was uneasy. The more I rode, the more confidence i got and felt more relaxed. I still get kind of nervous on main roads during the afternoon hours when a lot of cars are going past me, so i just go slower if i feel nervous and breath .

On 4/8/2021 at 3:01 PM, Unbihexium said:

I find that I get very anxious whenever I take my V11 out on the road and it significantly affects my control of the wheel especially when dealing with uneven road surfaces or controlling speed wobble. I've heard from experienced riders that wobble becomes much more common when anxious or stressed because those fine muscles in the leg become more taut and stiff, kinda like how your handwriting gets more erratic from drinking too much coffee,and oh boy do I experience that firsthand here in the crowded streets of NYC. 

yes all those things can happen. Also inexperience can effect your riding. You need more practice, by doing more drills , more riding preferably in quieter areas until the wobbles are gone at a certain speed. (practice acceleration, braking drills, and no sudden movements. Keep those legs bent!)

On 4/8/2021 at 3:01 PM, Unbihexium said:

This has caused me one crash in traffic while trying to stop at an intersection already and recently has gotten even worse because I made the mistake of going out riding jittery after drinking a lot of coffee and having just pumped my tire to a higher pressure. This combination left my feet shaking as an automobile was passing me during my grocery run-and I was in a bike lane! I can't imagine how unsafe this state would be in open road conditions. To make matters worse, I found myself struggling to even turn properly as if I had forgotten many of my skills. I certainly am not that bad when riding as a hallway hero! I needed a good hour of riding around an empty lot just to get back to normal. 

Keep practicing in those empty lots, and shorten those practice times little by little by going to quiet streets, parking lots. It takes time my friend. Point A to point B short runs are good too to boost your self esteem and riding ability. (That is where i am at on my EUC journey.)

On 4/8/2021 at 3:01 PM, Unbihexium said:

Should I just keep putting miles on my wheel and putting myself out there to improve this? Does anyone have any strategies or tricks to deal with stiff muscles and keep riding beyond simply getting more experience? Do you also have any tricks that personally help you stay calm and comfortable on the road? 

TL;DR Anxiety makes muscles stiff and hard to ride with. Any tricks that can help? 

Yes keep riding! Stiff muscles , just do your drills before your ride to activate your nervous system response to riding . My trick is to just take it slow if i feel in danger and i periodically pivot back and forth (accelerate, decelerate) to activate/reactivate my foot muscles so that i have full control of the wheel .

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There are so many great replies!  I will give my experiences.  Hopefully these points are of use to you:

Some of my main regrets were going onto areas where I wasn't comfortable before I was able.  This included needing to mount quickly with 100% confidence before I could, and earlier on, riding on narrower sidewalks where there is oncoming pedestrian traffic before I could keep my path consistent and narrow.  It's tempting to do new stuff, but better to practice and make sure you can do it with confidence before attempting.  The first time I went onto a bike trail, a bike came from the other direction, and I got so nervous that I dismounted and waited for him to pass.  I promptly left the trail, went to an empty street, did some agility practice and found that I DID have the skills to stay in a small section of the sidewalk.  It was just panic that took my confidence.  Then I went back to it not much later, and did ok.  Just enjoy the learning process and don't bite off more than you can chew.

Sometimes I need to focus on technical skills, especially when dealing with other things such as pedestrians or traffic.  I have come to a stop on a sidewalk at a crosswalk button to push it.  I am trying to focus on the uneven pavement, cracks, state of the traffic light, and potentially traffic or pedestrians.  At least once, I didn't come to a complete stop and the bad dismount caused the wheel to continue on and fall over right in front of me.  Nothing bad happened. It was just embarrassing.  The stop itself would be easy if I was in an empty area, but my mind didn't focus enough.  So I have learned to take a portion of my attention on other things and divert it to agility/handling of the EUC, especially when stopping/starting.

I can also get shaky in general (with or without coffee), and when I first started to ride on sidewalks, I got scared that I would shake so much I couldn't ride.  However, it has also gotten better, and with some experience I have become relaxed to where I can ride, even while shaky (though if shaky will ride slower).  I will mention also that one to two minutes into many of my rides, the shakiness sets in, and lasts for only a minute or so.  I'm sure there's a physiological reason, like lactic acid, different types of metabolism, etc.  I just know that it doesn't last long before back to normal.  It's odd though.

My experience with miles to learn was that I could probably ride continuously after a few miles (?), finally felt fun and effortless around 50-80 miles, and finally was competent enough to ride on narrow paths, on narrow sidewalks with oncoming pedestrians, etc., after probably a few hundred miles.  To repeat my first point though, just don't do more than what you feel comfortable doing.  I did do more than what I should have, and things got embarrassing, nothing bad, but it was a regret.  Get some cones or obstacles in empty streets or lots and enjoy the learning process!  Then you'll have the technical abilities (and confidence) for when you need them on the streets.

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How to reduce anxieties? A big part is from having experience. I would say be prepared to ride-- 1) Wearing the proper and necessary equipment. 2) Anticipate what might/could happen if you are in a tight situation. 3) Don't put yourself in a tight situation to begin with. 4) Give yourself ample of reaction time to a expected/unexpected situation. 4) Plan of escape or plan B. I think 2 major causes of wheeling accidents are 1) Lack of skill/experience and 2) Speeding reduces reaction time and increases risk.

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On 4/11/2021 at 10:39 AM, PatrickD said:

Some of my main regrets were going onto areas where I wasn't comfortable before I was able.  This included needing to mount quickly with 100% confidence before I could,

 

On 4/11/2021 at 10:39 AM, PatrickD said:

I did do more than what I should have, and things got embarrassing, nothing bad, but it was a regret.

Put me down for these things also. :facepalm:

I think there is a rough patch of learning that some of us go through where we think we are doing okay and ready for more challenges. Then the world points out that we are not. It is up to us to notice this and back up a little, get some more quiet experience until we are in charge of the wheel, and then slowly add in challenging environments.

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On 4/8/2021 at 12:01 PM, Unbihexium said:

Did any other riders here have anxiety issues when first starting to take their wheel on the road? 

I find that I get very anxious whenever I take my V11 out on the road and it significantly affects my control of the wheel especially when dealing with uneven road surfaces or controlling speed wobble. I've heard from experienced riders that wobble becomes much more common when anxious or stressed because those fine muscles in the leg become more taut and stiff, kinda like how your handwriting gets more erratic from drinking too much coffee,and oh boy do I experience that firsthand here in the crowded streets of NYC. 

This has caused me one crash in traffic while trying to stop at an intersection already and recently has gotten even worse because I made the mistake of going out riding jittery after drinking a lot of coffee and having just pumped my tire to a higher pressure. This combination left my feet shaking as an automobile was passing me during my grocery run-and I was in a bike lane! I can't imagine how unsafe this state would be in open road conditions. To make matters worse, I found myself struggling to even turn properly as if I had forgotten many of my skills. I certainly am not that bad when riding as a hallway hero! I needed a good hour of riding around an empty lot just to get back to normal. 

Should I just keep putting miles on my wheel and putting myself out there to improve this? Does anyone have any strategies or tricks to deal with stiff muscles and keep riding beyond simply getting more experience? Do you also have any tricks that personally help you stay calm and comfortable on the road? 

TL;DR Anxiety makes muscles stiff and hard to ride with. Any tricks that can help? 

surely any human has had this anxiety lol, simply put.. you are too inexperienced and not ready for the road yet.... if you get nervous or get wobbles then you shouldnt be riding around traffic and should be very cautious around pedestrians or bikers... once youve built up the proper muscles then you should be able to ride around cars, people etc at any speed and never get nervous... i was riding for probably a year before i ever went on the street (with cars) but after like four years now i can take any wheel anywhere with anything and never get nervous, shaky etc. you need to get out there and challenge yourself but without putting yourself or others in danger with traffic and pedestrians, try squatting while riding as much as possible, technical trails or obstacle avoidance , hard braking, slaloming etc just stuff that normally might make you uncomfortable and keep doing it, ride every day if you can even for a short period.. dont worry, you are extremely extremely new... 100 miles is literally nothing at all, i can do it in a day without breaking a sweat lol, personally i wouldnt even consider the road a thought until 1000, at least around any traffic

Edited by Rywokast
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On 4/8/2021 at 10:36 PM, Tawpie said:

Because I have performance anxiety, I spent a lot of time with no audience... and still made a fool of myself

Uh, sorry to hear that. May I offer you a tissue?

Edited by WI_Hedgehog
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Well, I would thank the OP for starting the topic.  I found it helpful, as I too have bent a fair number of lampshades practicing indoors that have not yet translated into a decisive command of the roadway.  I always marvel at the more common variety of posts on this Forum, such as "It's my second day and I've already put 600 km on the odometer, mostly just jumping curbs and giving piggy-back rides to my friends LOL anyway I went out on the interstate highway last night to get a 12-pack and wow what a rush!! but my real question is, does anyone know, if I get one of those airbag vests, should I put Slime into it?".

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22 hours ago, Circuitmage said:

What freaks me out more than anything are the cars that stop in the middle of the road to give me right away. I NEVER take it. I just stare at them with their stopped car in the road like they are idiots. 

Good call. I've seen cyclists taken out by a second car when a first car stops and waves them through.

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