Danger vs. Fear

This topic has been, and will continue to be discussed by humans for a very long time. We are wired for survival, and our brains are constantly adapting to perceived threats around us.

And, as you know, this cognitive processing keeps us from touching hot surfaces and jumping from high places. It also is the same processing that may be keeping you from riding that double black diamond trail. Or from hitting that jump or riding that rock garden on your favorite trail. 

Let’s break it down… 

Danger is defined as a person or a thing that is likely to cause harm or injury. 

Fear is the emotion caused by the belief that something is dangerous. 

So danger is the thing that can cause harm, fear is the belief of dagner’s presence. 

As in all things in life, when we break things down into smaller parts we see things more clearly and are able to understand the mechanisms of how it works. This applies to everything from cars to unwanted habits and yes, you guessed it, to mountain biking. 

So let’s go to that one part of the trail that you keep avoiding. That one jump you ride around instead of over, or that one corner that you always walk instead of ride. 

If you expect yourself to jump that rock successfully by simply trying harder, your brain is going to find itself in the neural pathway of fear because it is not familiar with all the working parts of jumping that rock. 

This is where breaking it down comes in. 

Instead of just trying harder, if you allow yourself to move slowly, both cognitively and on your bike, you can break down the process into smaller parts. Starting with small jumps will allow your brain to begin wiring a new neural pathway. By doing this, you are allowing your brain to see that while jumping a rock will put you and your bike in the air moving against gravity, that doesn’t directly link to danger. If you are moving against gravity on your bike with solid form and with an understanding of proper technique, danger simply isn’t present. 

So the next time you find yourself on your bike, we invite you to notice what fear might be present on your ride, and see if you can break it down into smaller parts. Our brains can move incredibly quickly, but when we want to wire new neural pathways, moving slowly is the way to go.