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How to stop 'Compound Crashing' on your Mountain Bike

Ever find that one crash leads to another, and before we know it we’ve made a ‘habit’ of crashing in the same way over and over again?

There’s a simple reason for this. And a simple way we can avoid falling victim to multiplying our mistakes on the bike.

We’re all aware of the term compound interest - the idea that if we invest money over a long period of time in interest/income-earning assets, it grows.

Guess what, the same thing happens with thought patterns, emotions, and actions.

Whichever thinking habits we INVEST the most focus, time, and energy into - both consciously and non-consciously, these are the thinking habits that compound and GROW.

Because of this, I’ve coined the term ‘Compound Crashing’ to describe a kind of rut that we Mountain Bikers may sometimes find ourselves trapped in.

Oftentimes when we make a mistake on the bike that leads to a crash we’re pre-disposed to be overly harsh and place excess blame on ourselves.

Maybe we find ourselves thinking and saying things like: “Ahh, I’m riding like sh$t today!” or “Why do I always have to panic brake... What’s wrong with me”

Then we get straight up and ride on with the associated emotions still charging around our body while expecting a different outcome (better riding) to result.

We’re basically asking our mind and body to do the impossible.

And guess what - we keep on making the same mistake over and over again. Corner after corner. Ride after ride. Crashing on the same section of trail, or losing control, in the same way, each time. All the while our frustration and anger boil, making the downward spiral go from bad to worse.

If we continue to ignore our predicament at this point, we may as well shut one eye and try and ride down the trail because it is impossible to focus on what we CAN DO when we have not given ourselves the opportunity to let go of the emotion and re-focus after what was potentially a traumatic event, or a shock to say the least.

We're ignoring a key psychological rule that governs all we do.


So rather than directing our emotional energy to beat ourselves up - both physically and mentally, we need to first acknowledge that we are human, and humans are destined to make mistakes from time to time.

Yes, often these mistakes are things we should know better than to do. We KNOW that we shouldn’t have slowed down that much, we shouldn’t have looked at the tree we hit, and we shouldn’t have gone for one last lap. But that’s irrelevant.

What we need to do to stop the cycle - is literally STOP. Stop and take a moment. Take a f$cking deep breath and say wow, I really messed up there, but I know exactly what I’m going to do differently next time.

Often just taking a moment and shaking it out can be enough to calm down and start investing in the thought patterns that are going to set you up for a fun rest of your ride.

I often ask myself ‘Right, what are the 3 skills I need to focus on right now?’ then repeat those cues over and over as I continue down the trail.

These cues serve as both positive can-do commands from the brain to the body and also occupy the space in our mind so that there is no longer any room for less productive thoughts to seep in.

The more we focus on what we can do, the more we INVEST in the GROWTH of those thought patterns instead.

BTW - Huge thanks to @pov_simo for the epic crash pic from one of the Whistler Off-Road Cycling Association Toonie races earlier this year. Luckily for him he is well versed in letting emotions flow and refocusing, meaning he went on to have a solid race run ;)


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