Does anyone have any tips for overcoming a fear of heights when working on MTB skills? I’m struggling even with basics like rolling into a bomb hole where as soon as I can see over the lip I freeze and grab the brakes.
Repetition, skill lessons, more riding. Ride the course once to understand where those points are and then isolate where you should try a few times to carry more speed.
Try and find a similar but smaller feature and practice on that. So a small bomb hole or one with shallower sides, that sort of thing. Once you are comfortable with that, move to a slightly larger/steeper sided one. Then repeat.
A skills course is worth it as the instructor will isolate features and give you feedback on how you do them: my wife went from getting off and walking round drops to flying off them.
Start small, build up.
Though, I have never heard “bomb hole” before and don’t know what that is referring to.
Think of a WW1 battlefield and the holes in the ground made by shells and you pretty much have it.
Edit: Do a search for “MTB bomb hole” and you’ll get a few shots showing the type of feature the OP is on about though sometimes it gets applied to any large U-shaped dip:
What’s not apparent in this shot is that the line rises behind the camera and if you just let the bike roll you just climb out of the other side without pedalling. The line the rider has just descended is the same angle as the slope to the right.
Ditto, I’m not familiar with that term in this area (other than the obvious idea).
As to the main goal, I’d start further back and analyze where you fear is actually coming from in the first place. Bad prior experience, general concern, lack of confidence, etc? Get that figured out first, and look to address that root cause.
Getting to actual practice on the bike matters and is likely fully necessary. As such, the “start small” approach is totally correct. Learn proper skills and how to apply them in a “safe and comfortable” environment. Nail them and step up gradually to more challenging stuff when appropriate.
Everyone doesn’t have the same access to instruction, either from a location or $$$ standpoint…But I was lucky enough to go to Boulder and do a few hours with Lee McCormick. The first pump track he took me on, not to big to say, it was freaking scary looking and nerves were all over the place. I must have looked like a newborn deer trying to fumble my way down and not crash.
Once he identified my weakness(s), then he started dialing me in slowly. Just like mentioned above, repetitive and smaller obstacles until I was good with the whole track. By the end of a few runs, my comfort level was through the roof and having so much fun.
Instruction if you can, otherwise start small and increase the comfort level. I still have so much to work on myself!!
Ooops, I guess it’s a European (UK?) term, but yes some are old pits where earth has been dug out, others are literally holes created by ww2 bombs. Think something about 15ft deep with steep sides.
It’s not that I lack confidence in riding down them it’s more that I freeze. I would do this even if I had to walk down.
I think the start small and work up might be best
In our area I’d recommend a lesson with John Stockwell somewhere like Danbury where there are lots of similar types of bomb holes & drops, ranging from small to huge: ATB Coach - ATB Mountain Bike Coaching
Thanks for that. Maybe I’ll treat myself to some coaching rather than Easter eggs this year
I had the same problem.
One of the 12 hour races I do, there’s a really steep bomb hole that is pitch black to drop into as the light fades. One time, a group of kids hung out there and did a star jump Infront of people as they come out over the top.
I literally screamed
I went to G0 Ape. It helped with my fear a bit.
Danbury is Amazing, but definitely not a place to go on your own. And try not too get to stoked i.e. stay in control of your speed
What works for me (also afraid of heights) is repetition. I’ll walk a blind feature a few times before riding it, follow friends I trust, then just go for it. I remember one blind drop feature on a steep local trail that had me walking around it multiple times before I went for it. Once I rode it, it was much easier staying on the bike and riding then trying to walk. Before I rode it, it bothered me that I wasn’t riding it and I just went back alone and sessioned it until I felt comfortable. I realized that the worse that could happen was OTB in a soft section of trail, so it was a great place to learn. That confidence carried over to other steep features and what I realize is that often my mind gets in the way of my riding. I’m not a naturally gifted rider so it takes a lot of mental practice for me to keep my DH game strong.
Do you have a dropper post? Makes a huge difference.
Like others have said, start small, and do lots of reps. You’ll get used to it.
I’m still trying to understand the term bomb hole. I looked on YouTube, but they all just look like smooth downhills like in the picture above. Is that correct? Or is it more like a ledge with a drop off?
They are typically smooth as in the photo. Just think of a hole in the ground with 40-45 degree slopes on all sides as if a bomb had landed and blown up and created it. Ride up to them with enough speed/momentum and you just roll in and out of them. Once you get to the bigger ones it’s really just nerve rather than any skill to ride them - follow the line and keep off the brakes.
I don’t have a dropper yet, it’s in the shopping cart just waiting for funds…
The only concern I have with a dropper is whether it will be something else for me to think about and I’ll end up in a confused mess. I guess it’s just practice and repetition again though.
Yes, if you look at them logically they are just a smooth downhill. That’s what makes it so frustrating!
It’s my fear of heights that causes me to snatch the brakes as soon as I see the drop. I have the same kind of reaction when I walk to the top of a flight of stairs where I will stop for a second before going down.
Gotcha. I have that fear of heights that feels like the railing on a tall building is pulling me to the edge.
Oddly, I love the kind of thing you’re talking about though. I’m going to repeat what others have mentioned. The key is to drop the post and/or get back over the rear wheel (it can be so extreme that your shorts accidentally touch the tire). Once you’re comfortable and can do it with speed, you’ll be able to then get 3/4 of the way back up with just momentum. Then, pop back up for the last couple pedal strokes with your weight pushed way forward (but not so far that you unweight the rear wheel and lose traction).
Start small and work your way up. Follow other riders to that lip if you can and then watch what they do. Good luck! Like all things we fear, you’ll feel awesome once you tackle it.
A dropper post to is game changing. It’s like riding a completely different bike. It’s the best purchase you’ll make for your MTB.
Make sure to get a model where you can mount the lever in a convenient location that is accessible by one of your thumbs. If you have a 1x drivetrain, this leaves the left side free for the dropper lever. If you have a 2x drivetrain, it’s harder to get things to work.
The dropper lever on my bike is under my left grip, in line with my thumb. It’s 2nd nature actuating and takes less than a second, so can easily drop when an upcoming trail feature surprises you at last second.