panic attacks in car after spending all the road time on the bike

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by luckygrownup, Jun 14, 2013.

  1. luckygrownup

    luckygrownup Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2011
    Oddometer:
    133
    Location:
    the suburban wasteland of Maryland.
    Hi for the last 2 years and 2 months, I have spent about 90% of my time on the bike and only about 10% on the bike. For example, I put about 20K on my bikes and about 3K a year in the car. I feel really comfortable on the bike. I feel as if I can see much further ahead and I feel I have more control than in my car. As a result, I feel my driving has really degraded. I hated driving before, but I hate it more now. In my car, which is a mini, I can't see shit. My A/C is broken, and the mini sits really low and obstructs my vision when compared to the two tall bikes I ride. While in the car, people speed past me. Additionally, I seem to have more anxiety in the car than before. For example, traffic jams make me borderline panic attack in the car. On my bike, I can see around traffic so I don't get the anxiety. Anyone else experience this or am I just going nuts ?
    #1
  2. Ceri JC

    Ceri JC UK GSer

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2009
    Oddometer:
    2,462
    Location:
    All over, usually Wales or England
    I used to notice this (although not quite to this extent) when I did 90%+ of my mileage by bike. Whilst there are clearly downsides to bikes, it's easy to forget things like the much better field of vision you have (and general heightened awareness) and the performance (which in responsible/competent hands is a huge safety benefit) compared to a car. When you get in a car, it can feel like a very wide, slow and hard to see out thing.
    #2
  3. MOzarkRider

    MOzarkRider Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2012
    Oddometer:
    97
    Location:
    Lost in the MO ozarks
    I had about a full month recently where I didn't drive the car at all and then when I got in the car I was nervous and shakey.... The Lane seemed so narrow in the car and I felt I was crossing lines (even though I wasnt) and was shakey on the brakes and acceleration. I couldn't see my surroundings and did not have the ability to move in traffic as well. So my conclusion, don't drive, ride EVERYWHERE :D
    #3
  4. zippy

    zippy Hinter dem Feld

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2003
    Oddometer:
    2,315
    Location:
    St Pete
    My cage is a 1997 Isuzu Hombre with 250,000 miles on the odo. The a/c does not work and top speed is probably 70mph . So on those occasions when I cage in I am hot and uncomfortable. I get passed like I am parked on the highway.

    So panic attacks not so ,much more of a comfort thing. I feel much more in control when riding the fz to work.
    #4
  5. trc.rhubarb

    trc.rhubarb ZoomSplat!

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2011
    Oddometer:
    2,063
    Location:
    Concord, CA
    No panic attacks but plenty of anxiety every time I see a bike ride by. :lol3
    I can't drive well anymore and let my wife drive as often as possible.
    We have just one car I ride full time. If my daughter was old enough to get on the back, I'd never drive.

    Whatever you do, don't edge that mini towards the lane edges while looking to split! It scares everyone else like you wouldn't believe. :deal
    #5
  6. GoUglyEarly

    GoUglyEarly Boots Still Clean

    Joined:
    May 16, 2012
    Oddometer:
    73
    Location:
    Newt Jersey
    Very interesting post.

    Part of what you are feeling is relative, and the other is just human nature.

    You already got to the core of the issue by mentioning anxiety. But how can you possibly have more anxiety in the safety of a car as opposed to on the motorcycle? That sounds crazy.....

    But it isn't. It is somewhat related to the fear of flying. What you have is a lack of 'control' which you also already identified as an inability to see. When your body is moving but you cannot see where you are going that will raise your anxiety level as it is unnatural. Evolutionarily speaking, this only happens when you fall out of your tree while sleeping, which you may have dreamed about and woken with a start.

    From http://www.salon.com/2011/03/20/nerve_anxiety_taylor_clark/

    "Why are we preternaturally fearful of traffic jams? And does this explain our fathers’ bad behavior on the road?

    Traffic is this modern phenomenon that perfectly needles all of our stress spots. The most frustrating thing about a traffic jam is not that we’re stuck sitting there. For the most part, we’re perfectly comfortable in our cars. The problem is that we have no control over what’s going on — we have no idea as to when the traffic will eventually let up. Those are the exact ingredients that make people anxious. Anger and fear are very similar physiologically, so that’s why some people get stressed and some people get pissed. It’s all part of the same fight-or-flight reaction cycle."


    For the same reason I still drive stick, it is easy to see that as a rider you become used to having far more authority, and thus "control" over a motorcycle than you do a car. And for the same reason people feared industrialization and automation, these undercurrents are everywhere!

    The part of your stress that is relative in nature is more fun to examine. When I was in college I used to play Gran Turismo far more than I should have. After a week of classes....ahem.....and Gran Turismo, when I jumped in my car to go home for a weekend EVERYTHING seemed completely out of sorts. After a while, the car would stop seeming like it was stuck in molasses.

    Likewise, when I moved back to the NE there was a huge adjustment after dealing with the easy traffic of the South.

    I have yet to do my first track day, but I bet people who have done many of them have similar feelings about the street. In addition to the relative slowness of the street, the blocked sight lines, bad pavement, narrow roads and randomness of other drivers must certainly be the reason so many track addicts stop riding street almost entirely.

    So, while I am not a psychologist, I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night and my diagnosis is that you are a perfectly normal human being man with nothing to worry about.:deal
    #6
  7. GPrairie_Rider

    GPrairie_Rider Dirt Junkie

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    931
    Location:
    DFW
    I don't get real bad anxeity, but my road rage with other cars gets bad. But on the bike I don't get any Rage at all. I just enjoy riding more than driving. It seems to be a chore driving a car.

    Chris
    #7
  8. H96669

    H96669 A proud pragmatist.

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2009
    Oddometer:
    4,748
    Location:
    Hiding off Hwy 6, B.C.
    A mini??? I wouldn't drive that, I feel cooped up in any small car. But I like bigger cars and at the little milleage I put on them in a year the better "fuel economy" of the smaller vehicles isn't too relevant.:wink:

    Car is still full of gas from when I came back home a month ago. The bike well....must be up to a few hundreds in fuel costs alone.:1drink Add the tires to that.:D Car is still on its original summer tires from 5 years ago, lots of life left in them.:wink:

    Spent 24 years of my life without even a plated 4 wheel vehicle but for the winter months.But circumstances have changed so no choice but to "sometimes" drive a cage in the summer.:cry

    I have to take it (the cage) for a long drive next week.....and a long one back a month later.:eek1:eek1:eek1 Lights and traffic not much of that around here but sure will be where I am going.Yes I'll be anxious to get back to my bike.:cry
    #8
  9. DarthJ

    DarthJ Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2011
    Oddometer:
    154
    Location:
    Hell Paso

    Haven't experienced it myself, but I'm running about a 50/50 mix of bike and cage time. That, and probably the fact that my cage is a large pickup, I have even more visibility in it than on the bike. Wife's cage is small SUV so visibility is about equal to bike.

    Maybe a small SUV might help the visibility issue.
    #9
  10. DR Donk

    DR Donk Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2009
    Oddometer:
    408
    Location:
    Western Michigan
    Except for the winter I'm on my bike all the time. When I put the bike up in late November it takes me two weeks to get used to driving a car. I don't have anxiety about it just sadness...:cry and boredom....:snore
    #10
  11. eatpasta

    eatpasta Lawnmower Target

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    10,960
    Location:
    Santa Barbara, Ca
    :lol3

    Yeah try a city commute in a car after doing it for years on a bike! A few years ago I crashed in a race and was pretty banged up and had to drive for two months. I nearly shot myself.
    #11
  12. Krono

    Krono Speed Junkie

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2012
    Oddometer:
    193
    Location:
    Heidiland
    I love my car ... when it's raining :D
    #12
  13. motorat

    motorat TBD

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2007
    Oddometer:
    936
    Location:
    SW WA
    you know you ride too much when you get in the truck, turn the key 1 click to the right and look for the neutral light.
    bike goes about 18k a year, truck 4k
    #13
  14. windmill

    windmill Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2008
    Oddometer:
    4,084
    Location:
    Kent, Washington State
    I've been a full time rider most of my life, and drive semi trucks for a living.....

    I hate cars, they make me feel like I'm locked in a death trap.
    #14
  15. RFVC600R

    RFVC600R SAND EATER!

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2011
    Oddometer:
    3,123
    Location:
    SAND LAND
    I get impatient when I drive. I miss lane splitting :cry
    #15
  16. Vertical C

    Vertical C Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,992
    Location:
    Sydney Australia
    I definitely get anxious, but I have never owned a car for the last 20 years. I only drive a couple times a year so my skills just arnt there compared to on a bike. I am way overcaustious.

    I find myself trying to cover brakes which you cant really do in a car without being jerky. Most people hate driving with me
    #16
  17. atomicalex

    atomicalex silly aluminum boxes

    Joined:
    May 21, 2012
    Oddometer:
    3,208
    Location:
    Detroit mostly
    I do get anxious. Traffic freaks me out. I know how to handle it, I am a good driver, but the street is not the track and the strategies I would use to handle traffic on the track do not work on the street. I do not get bothered by the size of my car - I drive a very low Golf III. It is not exactly huge. It is very slow (TDi), but so is my bike.

    If I lived somewhere where there was no ice, I would seriously consider giving up driving and only using the cars for track work.

    The bike alleviates all of the issues because of manoeverability and visual field. For me, it is like being on the track, only with traffic signals. So like driving on the Nordschleife.....

    Like GoUglyEarly, I mitigate by driving stick and riding whenever possible. I leave early, keep my eye on Google traffic, and remind myself that whatever I am headed to is still going to be there. Having live traffic on the phone or navi helps me a lot.

    Of course, if I was on the bike..... :D
    #17
  18. Ironfish653

    Ironfish653 Combat Commuter

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2006
    Oddometer:
    69
    Location:
    Every Damn Day
    I get impatient, too. My 4-wheeler is a Honda Element, and while the visibility is good, I miss the power-to-weight ratio on the bike. My Wee has ~1/3 the hp of the car, but 10% of the weight. Plus it's only as wide as the handle bars.

    The biggest thing I did after long bike-only stretches was clipping curbs with the right rear wheel. Now I have to take a few minutes when ever I start driving the car to re-calibrate for the size of the vehicle.
    #18
  19. stoke

    stoke ocean minded

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2008
    Oddometer:
    962
    Location:
    San Diego, DM12. KK6RWM
    A year ago when I got my first "real" bike, I went all in.

    Committed to giving up the truck for six months. Figured that would ramp up my skills the fastest and make the bike pay for itself with gas and time savings. And I actually pulled it off-used bike for commuting, errands, gym, meeting clients, meeting friends out, everything. All in.

    When I got back in the cage it was weird. Awful actually. No lane splitting, stuck in traffic, no more instant parking, can't see anything, etc. I didn't panic, but just realized how much cages suck when you live in a congested, urban, gridlocked area.

    Why don't more people use motorcycles as car replacements? Especially in cities, especially in Socal.

    Tomorrow, June 17th, is RIDE TO WORK DAY. Do it!
    #19
  20. Prettyboy

    Prettyboy BFLB

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2012
    Oddometer:
    572
    Location:
    Philly
    I got in a car and drove for the first time since getting my bike a month ago. Freaked me out a little bit that I had such ridiculous blind spots, also, didn't have a real strong sense of what was going on around me.

    Oh, and I got a speeding ticket. Cars suck.
    #20