I Keep Crashing – Help Me!

Words Dave Tolnai
Date Aug 16, 2016

Dear Uncle Dave,

I race gravity disciplines, and lately my racing has been going downhill. Like the bad “going downhill”. Like sliding downhill, tumbling downhill, and tomahawking downhill. I have only managed to string together two clean race runs this year. I’m falling apart, and falling off my bike, in the majority of my race runs. They have all been stupid crashes, all mild, and all in the first part of the track. Uncle Dave, I’m losing it, HELP ME PLEASE!

So here’s the deal: I’m not getting very nervous before races anymore. I am not jittering in anticipation, I have no butterflies in my stomach; I find myself relatively still and relaxed at the top of the hill. My warm-ups have been short, and I find myself chatting with other riders right up until my start time. I used to be full of nervous energy, and be off sprinting around right up until I was put in the start gate.

I used to have this wild focus in my race runs. Nothing mattered except pedaling and line choice. That wild focus is gone, replaced by a mere desire to survive the race run. I get tense and on the wrong line, and then suddenly, my front wheel is not under me and I’m on the ground.

What can I do to get my mind right? Where did my mental game go? What can I do to better prepare for a race? Do I need Boost? Wait, no, scratch that last question… Uncle Dave, please help me, and please help me fast, so I can go fast this weekend.

Perpetually Dirty Downhill Guy

Dear Uncle Dave,

For the past two years I have paid to join my local club with the aim of entering the races and attending the weekly group rides. However when the time comes I am never ‘in the mood’ so I head out on my own instead, this is not a problem, I enjoy not being restricted by others and get my competitive fix using Strava.

I don’t want to miss out on something great however! Racing will justify the purchase of newer, lighter components, will improve my cycling (so I’m told) and will give me the oppurtunity to meet like minded people.

In your opinion am I missing out by not attending these events?

Wannabe Racer.

Dear PEDS/Spice Girl:

I don’t really want to talk about racing. We’ve sort of dealt with this topic already (of course, my mistake here is assuming that anybody actually reads these things). Perhaps we make up for our poor reading comprehension/retention with an unhealthy fascination with racing? What other sport continually invents different ways to measure how quickly they go about their business? I doubt that the average canoeist hangs around down at the local dock talking smack in anticipation of the big portage race coming up on the weekend. Why do we insist on continuously marching around with our dicks swingin’ all over the place? It’s kind of weird. So, I guess we’ll talk about racing. And we’ll start with Spice Girl.

Spice Girl’s question is a pretty easy one to deal with. “No” is the answer that he is looking for. Yes. I know, he should probably just get up off his ass, enter a race and figure out for himself whether or not he likes it. That’s what a “normal” person would do. But Spice Girl is at the stage where he is reaching out to some random guy on the Internet for guidance. His heart clearly isn’t into it and he just shouldn’t bother. He’s like your idiot friend who continually asks everybody if he should be moving in with his girlfriend*. The answer is embedded within the question. You don’t even have to look all that hard.

PEDS on the other hand sounds like he is in a much more complicated situation. PEDS sounds like a competitive guy, faced with a case of the yips. Or the anti-yips? Or something.

My question for PEDS is this: Are you just not into racing any longer? On one hand, you sound concerned about your results and want to do well. But on the other, it seems like you just don’t really give a shit any more. Could this lack of nervous energy and focus just be your brain telling you that you no longer want to be doing this? I could be wrong, but maybe sit out the next race you were on the fence about and see how you feel about it afterwards. If you’re kicking yourself all weekend for not going, maybe that could be the spark to reignite your passion. But if it turns out you’re pretty happy just sitting alone in your basement with your pants around your ankles, maybe that’s a sign that it’s time to retire your clown suit.

Uncle Dave

*Not to be sexist…this is just my experience. I’m sure there are many women dating terrible men who are continually searching for a smidgeon of reassurance from their friends that their life isn’t ruined. But what am I saying? Even in my example, it’s usually a terrible dude who happens to be dating a kind and generous woman, but somehow he can’t get his shit together because “he’s not sure that she’s the one”. Jesus, man. Move in with her! Be happy that anybody will date you! Look at how you eat your food! It’s crazy that she hung around for this long. Huh. Maybe Spice Girl should enter that race?

Uncle Dave is getting the hell out of Dodge for a few weeks. There may be a bone thrown at the midpoint of his well-earned holiday, but that depends on how his motivation levels hold up over the next few days. Twitter? Ya right. Instagram, on the other hand, is going to be jammed full of photos of unhealthy children… sorry… unhappy children, foreign dogs and tiny cars. @davetolnai if that sounds interesting to you.

Perpetually Dirty Downhill Guy – you win a new helmet. And by new we mean we can’t even tell you about it until tomorrow morning. It’s a Giro. It’s versatile. It has an old name. And we can’t say anything else. Send us an email and we’ll get you your prize.

Giro Switchblade - f - 3/4

Richie Rude has been wearing this new Giro helmet in more than one configuration. Watch for more news on this shortly.

Got a question for Uncle Dave? Make it a good one and send it here. You may win an awesome prize we can’t even tell you about.

Where has your mojo gone?

Trending on NSMB


ZigaK  - Aug. 17, 2016, 12:26 a.m.

PEDS: go on an easy rides, enjoy, push hard. Get your mojo back. It works for me.
On a side note, I used to compete in ski jumping, very poorly I might add. In ski jumping it's a standard practice to go on a smaller hill if/when you want to build your form back.


jdt  - Aug. 16, 2016, 10:01 p.m.

PEDS- check your tire pressure, and see what treads other people are using, consider adjusting stem length and saddle position, set your sag and shock pressure, and check your brakes.


Deniz Merdano  - Aug. 16, 2016, 6:21 p.m.

PEDS, Your brain is writing cheques your ass can't cash. As in; you have the confidence but not yet the skills. Time to get a mentor and start all over again. I'm sure you'll find the groove, or just quit. Either is Fine


goproyolobro  - Aug. 16, 2016, 1:03 p.m.

Does anyone have any experience with mountain bike coaching or training in regards to racing? I know Ryan Leech offers online coaching. Would something of this nature be beneficial to PEDS?


Dirk  - Aug. 16, 2016, 3:35 p.m.

In an odd piece of fortuitous happenstance…PEDS indicated that he did indeed sit out the last race and regretted every minute of it. So…the advice was…not terrible? I think the helmet will keep him motivated for at least a few weeks.

Uncle Dave is more of the school of thought that you should really only ask an expert for help if there is a bone sticking out or if the engine is scraping along on the pavement. Paying an expert for help in their area of specialty never really crossed his mind. But it's not a bad idea.


reformed roadie  - Aug. 16, 2016, 9:49 a.m.

Which Spice Girl are we talking about here? I think the answer Sporty will be quite different from Baby.


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