Overcoming Fear

December 04 — 2018

Hailey Elise conquers a new feature


I feel it moving from my stomach up my neck and down into my arms causing my hands to tighten in response. My thoughts pick up pace and my breathing follows. I am rocketed from the present moment to a space in the future where only negative out comes exist.


Hello, my old friend fear. It’s nice to see you.


My relationship with fear has ebbed and flowed through my riding career. The one thing that has remained consistent is that it’s always there. In the early days, fear sat patiently in the back seat, letting me leap before looking. It made itself known alongside my first serious injury. I was riding a rock roll that had a wooden transition. It was big and I was pushing my limits but I still approached the feature with a casual air. My inexperience and a momentary lapse in focus resulted in braking on the wooden transition which was slippery and ultimately led to hammering right into the earth beside it. The forest closed in and I began to lose consciousness. What I didn’t know at the time is that I had just suffered a concussion, a grade 4 AC separation and broke C7-T1.


When I got back on a bike after that injury, everything was terrifying. I would sit on top of things that I used to be able to ride and not be able to connect my mind to body to get down. Tears flowed freely as I angrily wished to be the rider I was before I hurt myself. For a long time, this cycle of profound fear, anger, and frustration governed my riding. Time healed enough to get me through the first hurdle of riding at the level that I was at but I began to notice blocks where I couldn’t overcome further challenges. This drastically limited any progression. If something was scary, in my eyes, it also became impossible. I was stuck in the vicious cycle.


I talked about it a lot and many people offered their two cents. A lot of which I took in and was able to form the recognition that my mind and relationship with fear needed to be healthy to tackle things bigger and progress at the sport I loved so much. A friend, coach and fellow Juliana rider, Jaimie Hill, was one of the first people to show me actual skills like visualization and imagery to work through those moments when fear was consuming. From there, I went to a sport psychologist and my arsenal grew.


With these skills, the impossible became more possible. By no means is my journey with fear over but through my experience I hope to let others know that fear shouldn’t be the ending but rather the very beginning. Reach out. Talk about it. There are coaches and other experts that can provide you with tools to take on your ride so that fear sits in the back seat. And working to understand your own unique relationship with fear will undoubtedly result in skills you can take beyond riding your bike.


Till we meet again old friend.  


*written and produced by Hailey Elise: a Juliana Ambassador and brilliant photographer/videographer.*

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