Friday, 12 October 2012

Getting Back in the Saddle & My Battle with Clips

Failure to Unclip + Unsympathetic Friend = This Photo
We've all come off our bikes at one time or another. They say that when you fall off, you should get straight back on. That’s good advice because the longer you go before you get back on a bike after having come off, the harder it is likely to be.

I carry the burden of not being very good at unclipping. Evidence of this can be found on Facebook thanks to a “friend” who was quicker at whipping his camera out than I was getting up again. I dusted myself down, accepted the ribbing, got back on and begun to plan my revenge. The fact that I wasn't very good at unclipping was down to me.  It was a funny moment but it did dent my confidence just a little bit as I was just getting used to SPDs. I'm still using clips though and getting better at it with each ride.

Sometimes however, it’s not as simple as that. We all react differently to the shock that comes from falling off and you cannot always laugh things off so easily. And just telling somebody to get back on might be as insensitive as telling somebody to “pull themselves together”.

Where you come off your bike because another road user has negligently knocked you off, there is another problem you might have to contend with – your fear that it might happen again irrespective of your own skill and care. It’s an understandable fear. You relive the incident in your mind and if you come to the conclusion that there was nothing you could have done to prevent the collision; it’s only natural to think that it is going to happen again. There are some bad drivers out there.

Any anxieties can be magnified by unsympathetic attitudes. We all know somebody who thinks we’re mad to be cycling in the first place. When you've had an accident, they think you’re certifiable if you even hint that you want to get back out there.

It need not be all doom and gloom because there is help out there. If you’re in an accident caused by a motorist, you can claim reasonable medical costs including the cost of therapy. In some cases, psychological help might be beneficial but it could just as easily not be medical therapy as such. You might just need some cycle training sessions to get your confidence back. That’s not to say that there was anything wrong with your riding before the accident, but going out on the road again with a confident rider will help restore your own confidence.

I've had clients who have benefited from some confidence building lessons and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. For example, one of my clients couldn't unclip fast enough (those damn clips again!) as a car emerged from a side road without stopping and drove into him. His confidence was knocked considerably and he was having a problem riding in clips. The accident wasn't his fault and it is doubtful that if he had got out of his clips he could have done anything to avoid being hit. But the mind can play tricks and after the accident, unclipping was becoming an issue that made the difference between a pleasurable ride and an anxious one.

There’s a stigma about mental health in the UK and it often prevents people from seeking help, but if the accident wasn't your fault, you can make the responsible party pay for the treatment you need.

Meanwhile, I'm still riding in my clips and it’s been 200 km since my last clip related incident!

written by Levenes Cycling Solicitor, Tim Beasley

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