Lost mojo and confidence

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  • Lost mojo and confidence
  • tomj

    I’ve been mountain biking for about 15yrs – consider myself a fairly average intermediate, happy on reds but not black trail centre rides. Last summer I had an off at BPW and ended up in A&E for xrays, luckily all ok. But I keep thinking of what it might have been.

    I don’t know if that’s the cause but this year back on the bike in the spring sunshine I seem to have lost all confidence. I was at Gisburn today, which I’ve riden loads and am usually ok with. Instead I was super cautious on all the rocky and rooty bits, going far too slowly and so losing momentum and walking stuff I have ridden before. I was fine on the Hope Line though, didn’t mind a little jumping but kept stopping everyone I saw a rock (which is a lot at Gisburn)

    Any tips to get my confidence back? Or do I accept this is it and stick to blue trails and XC stuff in the Dales. Maybe it’s just ageing…


    Book yourself onto a skills course. I had a similar situation a couple of years back (I actually crashed quite badly on the 1st trail that runs to the uplift – on the very first run of the morning). So I booked a day with Jedi. He got me back enjoying being on my bike again, and improved my skillset too.

    If it’s the bits at Gisburn I’m thinking of – the HomeBaked staircase, the rocky bit on HG, the Swoopy drops (and the root of instadeath) etc, I think they are quite intimidating to commit to if you’re feeling hesitant in the first place. As you say, you end up wobbling into them rather than just rolling in at pace, so they feel awful.

    And these things are cumulative, so if you shit yourself during Homebaked, you will be off and walking later on.

    My advice? Find some more slightly open trails where there are line choices you can pick and practice. My go-to for early-season is Grizedale BWs, which I ride in ascending order of difficulty until I find my mojo again.


    Yup – those are exactly the bits I lost my confidence on. All I could focus on was rock and root and how they’d fling me off – and is be left alone in the woods to die! I was just too cautious and hesitant before any of them. Yet I’ve ridden all of these before (except the staircase on Homebaked, I always take the chicken run.

    As an aside Gisburn was great! Not been there this year so was great to see the new log rides and boardwalk on Sheep Hill reopened. Because of my issues I avoided HG and took Long Way Down for the first time. It was great fun, and dare I say I enjoyed it more than HG! Thanks to all the volunteers and trail builders

    Premier Icon nickc

    Progression…It’s all circular, you get confident, you try stuff, you fall off, loose your confidence…start the cycle all over again.

    Find stuff you can do, get some confidence back, find some slightly bigger rocks, do that until you get a bit more confident…Remember, mostly it’s in your head…you can do it, you’ve just forgotten you can.


    Booking a skills course might be a good idea, if only to get yourself riding stuff you are now wary of with someone ‘who knows what they are doing’.

    Personally, I just find getting on with riding eventually does the trick. Eventually my subconscious loses its ‘memory’. Until the next crash, that is.


    Watching with interest as sat here with a broken shoulder wondering how my confidence will be when I finally get back on the bike. Considering some more skills coaching, as I obviously need it being in this predicament. Not sure I can face another prolonged injury though, so already wondering if my biking will have peaked.

    Premier Icon chakaping

    Funny how confidence is so volatile and unpredictable. If only we could control it better.

    I’m on an upswing at the mo, trying to get comfortable with being out of my comfort zone if that makes sense.

    Only time I really lost my mojo was after a broken arm at the Mega. Took having a crash and landing on that arm to make me realise I wasn’t suddenly made of glass.

    In response to your specific issue – just try to get used to riding on rocks, staying loose and and letting the bike move under you, it’s harder to fall off than you think if you have the right body position.

    Premier Icon twonks

    Skills courses are all well and good and will no doubt make anybody on them a better rider as a result, however I find the best thing to do when loosing my mojo is simply not force it.

    Different things work for different people of course, and getting straight back up and into the ‘problem area’ may well work for some. For me, mountain biking is a hobby and not a necessity, so if it takes a bit of time out occasionally then so be it.

    The passion eventually comes back and is usually started by watching mtb on TV or youtube, then a simple ride just getting out and about away from it all. Trail centres are great but can be intimidating and stressful places if your feeling nervous or anxious after an off. Go do one of the blue trails or some off piste easier rides if at a trail centre. Get the flow sorted first and the rest will come back when it’s ready.

    Or, build a new bike – that works too ;o)

    Premier Icon feed

    Only natural and human nature to be extra cautious at anything after getting a setback no matter what it is, nothing to do with age, though you brain might use this as an excuse. For me options have been any of (a) build back up slowly which is frustrating (b) Bite the bullet and go for it, best way for me to do this is to go out with folks that are at my per crash skill and confidence level and tuck in behind them (c) find another sport \ pass time (not really an option).

    I’ve gone through bit of a mental battle with bikes the last year and lost.
    I BMXed at a pretty high level in my early teens thru to mid 20’s (raced, dirt jumps, street etc), did a bit of Motocross for a few years as well, snowboarded through the winters and rode MTB’s from the early 90’s onwards.
    Never been afraid to ‘send it’ and I’ve always been the fastest out of my riding buddies, rode black routes/DH etc.

    But I went to Morzine last year and I was baulking at easy stuff and just not enjoying it. I knew at the time that it was a farewell to mtb’s. Came home and sold up. No desire to buy a new bike. I’m 46. Funny old game riding bikes at times!

    Premier Icon roverpig

    Funny old game riding bikes at times!

    It certainly is that, In fact, viewed from outside, mountain biking is a pretty stupid activity really. Most of us trouble our A&E departments more than most sensible people and I’ve certainly experienced peaks and troughs in confidence that were linked to crashes (and the resultant fractures).

    There is lots of good advice above about how to get the confidence back, but it might also be worth deciding whether you actually want to ride some of this stuff. After a few ups and downs I eventually realised that I didn’t actually want to ride a lot of the stuff I was pushing myself to ride. Mostly I was trying to ride stuff because I knew that “proper mountain bikers” could. But proper mountain bikers are people who get a kick out of scaring themselves (or at least going outside their comfort zone), but I don’t. Yes, I can force myself to ride scary stuff, but the risk is that I end up breaking myself and more importantly there is no actual reward (for me). The best I can hope for is a small ego boost, but usually all I feel is a sense of relief and a desire not to ever do it again.

    So now I ride my bike over mountains. I ride a mountain bike. A fairly progressive one at that (because I’m less likely to crash it). But I’m not a mountain biker. I’ll always ride. I get a huge sense of enjoyment out of riding my bike (particularly off road). I love just being “out there” and I do enjoy riding technical stuff that is well within my comfort zone. But if something looks scary I’ll walk it. I’m still working on trying to forgive myself for not trying those sections sometimes, but I console myself with the fact that I’ll still be able to ride tomorrow, which may not have been the case if I’d tried it and crashed.

    Premier Icon Poopscoop

    ^^ Great post RP. A lot of what you say there is exactly how I feel.

    I’m trying to be a little bit of kit my comfort zone this year but I’ll never be a good technical rider.

    It’s just about getting to some amazing places, getting healthier and having a modicum of scary moments on occasion.


    But if something looks scary I’ll walk it. I’m still working on trying to forgive myself for not trying those sections sometimes, but I console myself with the fact that I’ll still be able to ride tomorrow, which may not have been the case if I’d tried it and crashed.

    This is me a lot of the time, but balanced with trying to gently push my comfort zone and ride stuff that I know I can. I don’t feel the need to ride a feature when everyone else does, I’ll do it when I know I’m ready. I’m generally more cautious than my gung ho riding buddy, but I do /did like to progress my riding. The irony is a broke myself riding a feature I’ve ridden plenty of times before, just a bit too quick. Over exuberance? Error of judgement?

    Premier Icon roverpig

    One of the great things about groups like this is that they can help you to realise that you are not alone, even when you are 🙂 I ride on my own because the solitude is something that I enjoy. It does mean that I tend to compare myself against some fantasy of the ideal mountain biker though, which is fueled by magazines, crazy videos online and the great god Strava. Then I come on here and realise that there are lots of other old duffers bimbling around enjoying the view too.


    just do some easy xc for a while if you can and get your confidence back slowly. Do not force yourself to do things until you feel comfortable again.After I badly damaged my shoulder I lost alot of confidence and slowed down if I saw rocks. I just took it easy until I gained confidence again and realized all the rocks were not trying to kill me. I’m fine now.

    Premier Icon Andy R

    It’s not really a loss of mojo or confidence thing with me (not at the minute, anyway) but rather accepting that what I really enjoy doing the most (which is tricky technical descents, and doing them clean, if slow) isn’t what seems to float most people’s boats.
    There was enduro on my doorstep last weekend, using a fair few trails that I’d cleared and put a lot of work into and that I know like the back of my hand and so, for one brief minute, I considered entering.
    In the end, I didn’t and I don’t know whether I regret this or not. I might have won my class (‘cos there was only one other entrant, and I’m a better, but maybe not as balls-out a rider than he is) but equally I might not have done and would have been terminally depressed for weeks, or worse still, broken in some way….

    I’m lucky, that at 67, I can still do what I most enjoy reasonably well and anyway, I’d never be fast enough to be bothering the real podium now, so what’s the point? The best young guy will always beat the best old guy, or there’s no justice in the world.
    I’ve been a better than average trials rider, a fair enduro rider and, back in the early ‘90’s, a pretty reasonable xc racer. And yet I still think that I have to prove something to somebody.
    Stupid old fool.

    I did, by the way, go and pre-ride every stage last Friday and rode the whole lot clean but in an enduro there are no points for style, of course, so much good that eould have done me. I’d be soundly beaten my every young dude no5 much older than my grandson…


    Seven weeks ago I had a double tumble , didnt learn from the first and attacked the campsite descent in Hayfield with far to much gusto, and ended up being rag dolled down the trail feet still clipped in. That night i ached and ended up with a fair amount of shock shivering and feeling like shite just glad someone was watching over me that day things could have been much worse . Since then ive been riding with a lot more caution with the doubts and worry and just keeping calmer. On Saturday just gone I went to Warncliffe and Greno with friends , it showed how hesitant I had become with friends explaining id ridden worse. i rode off and had a word with myself and came back at the drop in after 3 attempts and rode it with ease, two days later I did the tour of Coniston and 2 days after a dawn run at Helvellyn inc sticks and Seldom all with improved times. It takes time ,ease yourself back into it, a coach, friends or a stern word with yourself can help.. A good friend and much better rider told me to ride at %80 your ability then there is always a bit left in the tank for that special moment. as in life learn from mistakes your better for it 🙂


    Great post Roverpig. Sums me up perfectly.


    RP, great post. I think mountain biking comes in all shapes and sizes – the sport has evolved over the years but not everybody is the shred machine that we may (or may not) want to be. I am certainly not; I have been biking for a while but still can’t ride off a drop of any size or jump anything well. I am trying to push myself more these days but get hung up on mental blocks which prevent me from progressing.

    However, I respectfully disagree with your comment. You are as much a mountain biker as anyone – what you tackle, where you ride and what you like riding is up to you.

    Premier Icon akira

    Watched an interesting video with Tracey Hannah and some random on a trail. He followed her and obviously she was faster then she followed him and then have him some advice. She said he was thinking too much and needed to just ride, she said she always had a song going through her head when she rode stuff and this allowed her to just ride rather than overthink stuff, guy tried it and seemed to be much smoother and hitting stuff better. Made me think. It was on YouTube but can’t be bothered finding it now.

    I can’t even think that fast. But I think my chosen song would be ‘Oh Shit!’ by the Buzzcocks if I did try to ride like that.

    Premier Icon roverpig

    Thanks for the supportive comments folks.

    @gribble I know what you are saying and thanks. I’m not too fussed about the label though. I like to ride my bike up and down mountains, so in that sense of course I’m a mountain biker. But it’s a term that conjurers up a certain image in the minds of most people, so I tend to just say that I like riding my bike off-road instead.

    Premier Icon johnw1984


    Watched that video the other week and gave it a go. It actually works!

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