I have said it many time and I will say it again: riding ATVs is a rough sport. We are riding a powerful machine on sometimes unpredictable trails. Many ATV riders are fortunate, they have not had a serious crash in their riding careers. Others are not so lucky, and have to work hard at healing their shattered confidence after a crash.
After a crash it is normal for riders to feel a sense of fear and a lack of confidence when getting back on their ATV. Fear is a very useful emotion that warns us of danger. But excessive fear can be paralyzing and irrational, which is not good when riding ATVs.
Having an ATV accident for the first time shakes our thinking process. As ATV riders, we have an inherent competitive nature and tend to think we are invulnerable until something comes along to challenge that notion, like a tree, rock, root, log, mechanical failure, steep hill or an unexpected dropoff of the trail.
We all experience different reactions after an ATV accident but there are four common reactions some riders may exhibit:
- Avoidance Reaction – Avoid riding their ATV again.
- Freeze Reaction – Within the first ride or two after the accident the rider may freeze when encountering a similar situation on the trail.
- Hyper-Vigilant Reaction – Feeling jumpy and extremely conscious of every move the rider and/or their ATV makes.
- Excessive Anxiety Reaction – The butterflies are going crazy in their stomach, their heart is pounding and they feel as though they might pass out. It may look very much like a panic attack.
One of the first steps in healing your confidence after a crash is to analyze what happened. ATV accidents are caused by many different reasons. Analyzing what happened tends to have a calming effect, your mind starts thinking logically instead of emotionally.
Was the accident a fault of the ATV, the rider or the situation? A mechanical failure is a fault of the ATV, but could be a fault of the rider if the ATV was not maintained properly. Riding ATVs requires a lot of energy and concentration.
Rider fatigue or a lack of concentration could result in an accident. Riding beyond one’s skill level or over-confidence could also cause an accident or any combination of things. You may never totally realize the true cause of an accident, the point is by carefully going through what happened you may be able to avoid an accident in the future.
The next step in healing your confidence is to take it slow, go back to the basics of riding ATVs. Remember what you learned when you analyzed what happened and correct any issues you have control of. Each ride will improve your confidence a little more until you are back to the level that you were at before.
Some accidents can be so devastating that the person is not physically able or just does not have it in their heart to ride anymore. For those of us that still have the burning desire to ride, practice responsible ATV riding and ATV safety.
This article was originally published on CampingATV.com and is republished with permission.