Pre-ride anxiety

I’ve had my uni for over two years but I still sometimes get anxious before a ride. Maybe it’s because I’m overly sensitive. The feeling lessens if I ride more frequently. Even so it often affects my ability to free mount cleanly. The funny thing is that once I’m up and riding away then this feeling is immediately replaced by joy and confidence and I’m always disappointed to finish. Insane?

Sounds like to just need to ride more. :slight_smile:

I also have been riding over two years and get some anxiety before riding. I think my heart rate will be a bit higher and I feel a bit nervous.
Nearly 100% of my rides are muni.

I think these factors play into it:

  • Concern about forgetting something before the ride. (food/drink/tool/helmet/etc)
  • Concern about entering a trail system alone. Who knows what/whom I’ll encounter in the deep dark woods.
  • Concern about whether I can still ride. This might seem stupid, but some of my rides are a week or more apart. And even though time and again I hop on and ride like I was born with it… it’s still a thought I sometimes have.
  • Concern about getting injured. It does happen sometime.
  • It’s normal to get somewhat anxious before an event. Maybe even a simple ride (no spectators / not racing) is important enough to you to make it an “event” for you. Nearly every trail I ride has some terrain that challenges me and I endeavor to conquer it. It’s like I’m headed into a fight, because I am.

Like you, any anxiety I have disappears as I ride.

As screwy as it may sound this is identical to stage fright. This isn’t to say that you are afraid of other’s seeing you ride as if it is a performance, merely that the description is the same as stage fright.

Try to think of it as a boost before a ride. Some of the best actors I know use those feeling to sharpen their edge. It takes time to manipulate those feeling into something possible, but it is possible.

And ride more. :wink:

Yeah, I’ve often thought of it as a kind of stage fright. Fear of failure perhaps or looking stupid in front of others. Once I’m riding it goes because I’m concentrating on riding. Even if I come off I don’t get put off by other people’s reactions unless they’ve been overtly abusive, even then that actually spurs me on.

Thanks for this thread stag!

I think your description of getting anxious prior to riding is exactly what I mean when I say I have to get “psyched up” to ride… every time. I thought it was just me.

I found MuniOrBust’s comment that he still gets anxious after two years of riding… very interesting also. I am hoping that I will feel less and less of this, but the advice to “ride more” certainly does apply in my case.

Somehow, this tip from LoneReaction seems to apply here:
“The longer you stay on, the longer you practice staying on, and the longer you can stay on the next ride.”

Dr.D’s comparison of the anxiety to stage fright is also strangely applicable. Fear of failure. Yes, that makes sense. I’ve done some performing, so I’m quite familiar with stage fright.

What a helpful thread stag!


I hate riding in front of people!!! This year I have ridden about 3000k and every time I try to free mount in front of someone I come straight off!!!

I rarely ride out from my house choosing to drive a few miles away first!! :astonished:

ditto Mr Hogan
(except for bit about riding 3000k) (I wish…)
yep, good thread.

MuniOrBust you don’t show it, you are a very good rider. I thought I was the only one concerned going into the woods alone, kind of glad I thought I was paranoid.

Stag it happens to me also. Last year when I rode almost daily it disappeared but this year the sense of aniexty reappeared. As many have said once I’m going it goes away but the initial start up is there especially when it has been awhile between rides, or if I ride with someone because I’m used to riding alone.

Very similar to stage fright anxiety I used to feel, but then when you get out there you feel much better and start enjoying the moment. Also used to happen when I’d be getting ready to do a particularly big drop or super technical and steep section. But once you do it, you wonder what all the fear was about. Most of the “anxiety” I feel nowadays is post-ride anxiety, meaning I can’t wait to do it again! :smiley:

I have to admit one of my biggest worries is what peoples reactions will be as I wobble past them on my uni. Sometimes I get so scared I fall off before I get anywhere near them. Then my legs wobble so much I can’t get back on again.
I don’t worry about getting hurt falling off, at the moment my average speed is about 3-4mph so I don’t think I’d break anything. I always always wear all my safety gear. Helmet, full length knee/leg protectors and KH gloves. I worry about getting laughed at in that getup, but I don’t get paid a wage if I am off work injured. On Thurs night I had my first near faceplant. I landed on both knees and palms of hands as I rode through some soft sand on the prom. I was more surprised than anything. Now I know what it’s going to be like to fall off forwards.
I’m hoping as I get more experienced on my uni my confidence will grow. I do look forward to going on my uni. Okay I admit I have had the occassional uni dream where I am cycling in a straight line, idling, hopping down stairs and wheelwalking. :roll_eyes:
(hope this isn’t considered a threadjack)

Thanks 57UniRider for the compliment :slight_smile:

Elaine, I sometimes get that irritating fear of being laughed at, but I don’t let it deter me. The stupidest thing I would do is not ride just because of what others might think. We’re gonna get comments and attention - some good, some bad - whether we like it or not, after all, to the general public we’re riding a ‘one wheeled bike’. However, I think that a lot of ridicule thrown at uni riders comes from jealous people. Keep going!

Before a muni ride, I might be at an anxiety level of 0 to 1 out of 10. It’s either not there or not much.
In a real stage fright situation I might have an anxiety level of 8 or 9 out of 10.
Maybe I’m just excited to get out riding. My heart rate is faster.

Hmmm. Sounds like the only common element in all those situations is you. They can’t help you. If you focus on the mounting, it will get better. A 36" set up for road riding can be a chore to mount, so don’t feel bad if you don’t get it 100%. 99% of the people watching you just want to see you go.

Even if they say stupid stuff.

I feel a little anxious before I start to ride. Nothing major, but it’s there. It is the same way on my motorcycle. Until I take off, I feel a little apprehensive. I know it will pass so it doesn’t really bother me. Unlike some of you, I like riding my unicycle in front of others. I like the surprised looks, compliments, and occasional picture taken when they see me, especially off road.

Practice has helped but being watched just gets to me … when I did the Dusseldorf uni marathon there was about 10,000 spectators lining the finishing straight … I was terrified of falling in front of them and not getting back on!!! :roll_eyes:

From both my kids and I riding in basketabll half-time shows and parades I’ve noticed the croud often holds their breath to see if a fallen rider can get back up and going. They are as impressed by that as the riding itself. I try to impress on the kids that most people don’t mind if you fall, they totally understand since they can’t ride themselves. It’s whether you have the true courage to overcome the fall and continue with the show that they cheer for the loudest!

BTW: I noticed that this thread is mostly by “older” riders. Admittedly, when I first learned at age 46 I was afraid of looking silly, especially in front of kids. I still experience this fear when just learning a new skill but am usually having too much fun to let it affect me much. Having said that, I have never had anyone say “you are too old to do that”. In fact they are usually impressed that anyone of any age can ride a unicycle period.

absolutely like stage fright: if someone is looking at me it stresses me and I may fail a freemount; curiously if it’s a technical bit of trail I may try harder and do something I would normally not have tried!

I started out on a college campus where I was regularly cursed out and jeered at every day and I think learning to tune that out helped with pre-ride anxiety. I find that I have a different kind of anxiety that impedes my rides… the pre-obstacle anxiety. I’ll worry about how I’m going to tackle a particular obstacle to the point where the anxiety causes me to UPD. Context:

Lately I’ve spent a little time trying to learn to ride/hop up street curbs. I’m sure riding up curbs is nothing for most people on this forum but they cause me all kinds of anxiety. As I approach I think 1) what should the pedal position be and how would I even ensure the pedals are in the correct position in the first place 2) should I approach fast and hop right before I hit or approach slow and hop once the tire connects with the curb 3) what do I do to recover once I’m over 4) what bone am I going to end up breaking 5) after the bone is broken what do I tell the wife to convince her I should still ride a unicycle, etc. etc.

It would probably be funny/interesting to monitor my vitals as I ride toward a curb during my hopping practices. It’s a 100% mental block at this point. I still don’t have a good strategy, but I can land it maybe 20% of the time. BTW: I have no hop/vertical AT ALL - not even off a uni. Maybe it has something to do with the seat height. In the videos I always notice that the extreme hoppers have a good foot clearance between them and the seat while standing. I’ve got maybe an inch clearance. Also my sense of balance is terrible I’m not a good uni-pogo’er.

Second scenario is for muni. I’ve been on two different single track courses in my area and at least 50% of each ride is littered with roots. Now the anxiety here works a bit differently, for some reason roots don’t put up that same brick wall in my mind that a curb would so I have no problem charging them.

Here the anxiety of the obstacle causes me to get out of my seat and ride the pedals to ensure I get enough power to roll over them. That might not sound like much as far as anxiety influencing the ride, but I often wonder how many of those roots would I have been able to ride over with my rear in the seat instead of riding the pedals - the key difference here being riding the pedals saps all my energy with the quickness. It ups my heart rate and shortens my rides.

As a side note: It’s amazing to me how I can ride 20 miles on road and be fine and ride just 1.5 miles over rooted single track and end up tongue in hand tired to the point where I don’t have the energy to give another pedal. Of course on road my arms are tucked behind me and absolutely still 95% of the time while on rooted single track I’m doing everything I can with my upper body to stay upright. Read: flailing around like a Wile E Coyote that just looked down after running over the edge of a cliff.

Anyway, long story short; I don’t need that much help to overcome pre-ride anxiety. Just mid ride anxiety while I’m staring down an obstacle I have an 80% chance of biffing it on or when seeing a difficult 50m section ahead that will end up sucking about 5 miles of energy out of me.

jbtilley, I am so happy to hear someone else say this. I’m a roadie for the majority of my rides but I’m thinking of trying to ride more muni and as you said I can do 20 miles on the road and be fine but 1.5 miles on the trails and I feel like I rode 50 miles. I know I totally out think myself and it causes me to fail more but it is reassuring to know someone else is going through similar.
Same goes for hills I can climb or desend a pretty steep road hill but put me on an off road trail and my mind tells me I think I can’t and of course I don’t :frowning:
I guess practice is what will help and will gain me more confidence in doing so, but thanks for the post it helps me knowing I’m not alone.
Thanks jbtilley, and Stag sorry I didn’t mean to thread jack