Page 1 of 5 12345 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 83

Thread: Descending Tips

  1. #1
    christian's Avatar
    christian is offline VSalonistas
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Chappaqua, NY
    Posts
    2,609

    Default Descending Tips

    Patch asked for descending tips in the thread about Robert Hyndman's passing. I didn't feel it was appropriate to discuss there, so here's a new thread.

    When we speak of descending on a bicycle, we generally mean "cornering swiftly but safely while descending." My descending tips are pretty simple, but they stem from 15 years of motorcycle riding primarily:

    1) On the street, brake before the turn, set a safe entry speed, and enter the turn off the brakes (on a motorcycle, you'd have a bit of maintenance throttle to set the suspension, but on a bicycle, gravity's your only engine here). Come off your brakes gently so you don't get a sudden rush of speed from gravity just as you enter the corner (this is typically not dangerous, but it scares people).

    2) Make sure you have assessed the appropriate line for the corner (and the subsequent one, if you can see it). Enter the corner 12"-16" from the outside, apex 12-16" from the inside, and exit 12"-16" from the outside, to give yourself room from oncoming traffic and gravel or other debris at the apex.

    3) Trust your tires. If you've come in too hot, remember that your bike can lean over further than you think possible, easily 45 degrees. Breathe out sharply, stay loose, and push on the inside handlebar, and you'll generally make it.

    4) For corners where the apex and/or exit are obscured (common in the mountains), slow to a point where you could reasonably negotiate most unseen obstacles in the corner. (Common sense would say 100%, but cornering at rates where you could stop 100% of the time for a flock of sheep or parked tractor insn't always practicable.)

    Proficient Motorcycling by David Hough is a good book on motorcycle dynamics and cornering. Much of it applies to cycling on descents as well.

  2. #2
    zank's Avatar
    zank is offline VSalonistas

    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Sutton, MA USA
    Posts
    2,998

    Default Re: Descending Tips

    Christian, great points. I think your first point applies equally well to cornering on all surfaces and not just on descents either. My cross cornering and trail cornering improved a lot after I took some advice from Mickey and just started going along for the ride with my hands off the brakes while in the corner. I got a real sense of flow in the tight and twisty singletrack now. Fun stuff.
    Web | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Flickr | Tumblr
    Mike Zanconato

  3. #3
    jitahs is offline VSalonista "I don't hate fat people"
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Oakland Ca
    Posts
    3,088

    Default Re: Descending Tips

    These are good points but I'd like to point out the outside-inside-outside line works but if the road contains debris that piles up in the middle of the lane and spills onto the shoulder, as happens in a mountainous area, it's best to maintain the line on the cars' inside wheel track due to clean pavement and keeping away from the center line which the guy coming up is going to cross probably holy cow that was a long sentence.
    "Old and standing in the way of progress"

  4. #4
    Too Tall's Avatar
    Too Tall is offline VelocipedeSalon.1
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    DC
    Posts
    13,699

    Default Re: Descending Tips

    Or you can follow Tom Kellogg.
    Tom and I have a thing going on when it comes to scarey fast descents. T.K. is much better than me and I almost always take the hindmost or risk slowing him down. By following Tom's lines and relaxing my enjoyment and appreciation for taking reasoned risk soars.
    This is one way to learn and get better.

  5. #5
    jitahs is offline VSalonista "I don't hate fat people"
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Oakland Ca
    Posts
    3,088

    Default Re: Descending Tips

    Also, know the road if you're going to bomb it. Blind corners, hidden driveways, schools, compression bumps, parallel tar snakes, off camber corners.
    Get your mind into it, don't la-de-da It's a Beautiful Day it.
    Practice, then practice some more.
    Ride sticky rubber.
    Use your brakes like a rheostat, not a toggle switch. Both of them.
    "Old and standing in the way of progress"

  6. #6
    WayneJ is offline VSalonistas
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Canterbury, CT
    Posts
    1,811

    Default Re: Descending Tips

    Never ever ever Freak out!
    Turn an "Oh Shit" moment into a "I can do this" moment.

  7. #7
    monadnocky's Avatar
    monadnocky is offline VSalonistas
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    SW New Hampshire
    Posts
    845

    Default Re: Descending Tips

    Seconding the Proficient Motorcyling read. Hough is sort of a legend in many motorcyling communities, and it is very pertinent for cycling, especially at higher (decending) speeds.

  8. #8
    krthornton is offline VSalonistas
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Socal
    Posts
    344

    Default Re: Descending Tips

    This may not be a tip per se, but I always take a new descent slowly the first time. Basically, recon the course. I don't ride the brakes all the way down, but I focus on relaxing instead of flying down.

    There's one that I do here rather often (Glendora Ridge Road from Baldy Village, then down Glendora Mtn Road). It isn't particularly technical, but it has blind cliffside corners, the final miles down GMR contain variable-radius switchbacks, and the debris on the road is different every time. If I haven't been there in a few months, I have to slow right down--my descending mojo is rusty and usually doesn't come back until I'm 1/2-way down.

  9. #9
    the bottle ride's Avatar
    the bottle ride is online now VSalonistas
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    2,229

    Default Re: Descending Tips

    Keep your eyes as far down the road/trail as far as possible- it helps to make descions when you have the time to make them.

  10. #10
    jitahs is offline VSalonista "I don't hate fat people"
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Oakland Ca
    Posts
    3,088

    Default Re: Descending Tips

    Get relaxed and don't fight the bike. Release tension from your body, relax your ankles.
    Absorb the bumps, think flow.
    "Old and standing in the way of progress"

  11. #11
    christian's Avatar
    christian is offline VSalonistas
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Chappaqua, NY
    Posts
    2,609

    Default Re: Descending Tips

    Oh yeah, this should be obvious, but - hands in the drops, a finger or two on each of the brake levers.

  12. #12
    jitahs is offline VSalonista "I don't hate fat people"
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Oakland Ca
    Posts
    3,088

    Default Re: Descending Tips

    Ride mtb or cross.
    It'll serve you on the road.
    "Old and standing in the way of progress"

  13. #13
    Jas0n is offline VSalonistas
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Rye, NY
    Posts
    191

    Default Re: Descending Tips

    One of the simplest suggestions: RELAX. Don't tense up, flow with the bike.

  14. #14
    Dorman's Avatar
    Dorman is offline VSalonistas
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Shakopee, Minnesota, United States
    Posts
    2,112

    Default Re: Descending Tips

    Applying pressure to the outside pedal will help plant the tires.

  15. #15
    jitahs is offline VSalonista "I don't hate fat people"
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Oakland Ca
    Posts
    3,088

    Default Re: Descending Tips

    Quote Originally Posted by Jas0n View Post
    One of the simplest suggestions: RELAX. Don't tense up, flow with the bike.
    Um. Or you can relax and let it flow.
    "Old and standing in the way of progress"

  16. #16
    DougS's Avatar
    DougS is offline VSalonistas
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    283

    Default Re: Descending Tips

    riding motos taught me to not to brake in a corner. brake before, eyeball your line and commit.
    braking in a corner will try and stand the bike up and transfer downforce into sideways forces aka not goodtimes

    i always point my inside knee into the corner but thats just habit i think.

    other than that just the standard stuff.
    boxer grip in the drops,
    stay low, weight the bike kinda neutral but get comfortable pushing your weight around.

    just doing a lot of it helps. i was a pretty poor descender, but doing it a lot over the past couple years now i can hang with pretty much anyone except the big heavy nutcases

  17. #17
    Bob Ross's Avatar
    Bob Ross is offline VSalonistas
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    NYC
    Posts
    1,036

    Default Re: Descending Tips

    Quote Originally Posted by jitahs View Post
    Use your brakes like a rheostat, not a toggle switch.
    That's some great imagery there.

  18. #18
    christian's Avatar
    christian is offline VSalonistas
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Chappaqua, NY
    Posts
    2,609

    Default Re: Descending Tips

    Quote Originally Posted by DougS View Post
    just doing a lot of it helps.
    This is a good point, and also reinforces why riding motorcycles probably helps with descending. When you're taking curves at 50 mph on a motorcycle daily, doing the same on a bicycle just becomes more of a inside-the-envelope experience.

  19. #19
    El Chaba's Avatar
    El Chaba is offline VSalon Al Haig-ista
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    1917 Bungalow
    Posts
    2,550

    Default Re: Descending Tips

    10-15 years ago, one of the British mags was doing a preview of a couple of new climbs to be featured in the next year's Vuelta....It was November, and they commandeered Fernado Escartin to ride (portions of) the climbs and offer his assessments. The journalists followed in a car. They noted how slowly Fernando descended and asked him about it. He responded that they were paying him for his assessment of the climbs, not the descents.....and that he had a family. He never risked ANYTHING on a descent unless it was a race. Interesting. The guy could descend with the best in the sport when it was time, but in training rode very conservatively. There is an important lesson there.

  20. #20
    chasea's Avatar
    chasea is offline VSalonistas
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Brooklyn, NY.
    Posts
    4,849

    Default Re: Descending Tips

    I'm a pretty bad descender. Or, rather, a really great chicken shit. More to do with nerves than technique. In college I was great!

    But I'm a big dude, spent most of my life riding bikes on dirt. Dirt don't hurt. When I ride with others, I let it be known that I'm going to fall back.

    As a certified pussy, one way I keep from cooking my rims is to use my body as a sail on straight sections. I'll get up on the hoods (when its sensible), puff up my chest, bend my elbows, and stick a knee out in the wind. It doesn't do much, but just enough to make me feel like I can correct something or come to a stop if need be.

    Is there a cure for what ails me?
    Last edited by chasea; 11-09-2011 at 03:01 PM.
    Got some cash
    Bought some wheels
    Took it out
    'Cross the fields
    Lost Control
    Hit a wall
    But we're alright

Page 1 of 5 12345 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. descending
    By D-CT in forum General Discussion
    Replies: 14
    Last Post: 06-16-2011, 09:34 AM
  2. Help me understand descending
    By false_aesthetic in forum General Discussion
    Replies: 38
    Last Post: 06-02-2010, 08:05 PM
  3. Descending as Art
    By profkrispy in forum General Discussion
    Replies: 19
    Last Post: 07-19-2009, 12:42 AM
  4. Descending speed - new best
    By lavi in forum General Discussion
    Replies: 20
    Last Post: 07-14-2009, 07:53 AM
  5. descending. a how to.
    By swoop in forum General Discussion
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 09-26-2008, 10:11 PM

Bookmarks

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •