Descending made easy.

whyamihere
whyamihere Posts: 7,700
edited December 2008 in Road beginners
I've always been a nervous descender, because I was crap at taking corners. I always felt like my front wheel didn't have enough grip, so I slowed down far too much. Today, I analyzed what I was doing and I do believe I've sorted my problem.

Here's my guide to descending, in 1 easy step:

Don't brake.

Obviously a bit of braking is needed, but nowhere near as much as you would think. I rode a local descent a couple of times. 10% at the steepest point, some fairly tight turns. First time down, I felt like I was about to fall off at a bit under 20mph. I then tried getting my braking done really early, and letting the bike roll through the corner. 30mph. Brake later, but still roll through. 33mph. I ended up going down at nearly 40mph, and felt in control. I could have gone faster, but the road was dirty and I didn't want to risk hitting a patch of gravel at over 40mph. The bike will get through if you allow it to, trust in the bike and you'll be fine. :D

Comments

  • iain_j
    iain_j Posts: 1,941
    I've cracked it that way on descents I can go back and do again and again - I love tearing through the corners without touching the brakes and knowing I'll get round OK - but I'm still heavy on the brakes on "new" descents :?
  • whyamihere
    whyamihere Posts: 7,700
    I did try it later on the ride on a corner I'd never seen before, a left turn on a roundabout. Approached around 30, swept round without braking, apexed better than I ever have before. Brilliant. :D
  • dennisn
    dennisn Posts: 10,601
    On the same subject(sort of) a motorcycle racer once told me that you don't try to steer
    a motorcycle, you look in the direction that you want to go and everything follows the eyes pretty much. He really did say pretty much. Seems to be a general truth about lots
    of activities "look where you want to go".

    Dennis Noward
  • Heh yeah, when I was MTBing the advice was "Don't look at the rock!" :)
  • dennisn
    dennisn Posts: 10,601
    SpinyBike wrote:
    Heh yeah, when I was MTBing the advice was "Don't look at the rock!" :)

    Gotta remember that.
    :lol::lol:
    Dennis Noward
  • fizz
    fizz Posts: 483
    Yep definately as said, look where you want to go and the rest follows.

    Also good advice about braking in a straight line before you get to the corner as well.
  • bobpzero
    bobpzero Posts: 1,431
    also to accelerate out of the corner and ignore the spide mobile inches off ur rear wheel.
  • markos1963
    markos1963 Posts: 3,724
    Another tip from the world of motorcycling, put your outside foot down at the 6 o'clock position and put your weight through that. This allows more grip through the tyres at the lowest c.o.g you can put the weight through, try it and see the difference.
  • redddraggon
    redddraggon Posts: 10,862
    I consider myself a bit of a descender, I guess I just learnt to get some of the time back I lost through poor climbing.
    I like bikes...

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  • Nick6891
    Nick6891 Posts: 274
    i got good at descending from mountain biking, when going down on a mountain bike with all the bumps and stuff you just have to let the bike do what it wants to do and trust it to stay upright, when descending as long as you dont turn in too tight and there are no leaves to slip on your tires will stay gripped to the road surface
  • whyamihere
    whyamihere Posts: 7,700
    Nick6891 wrote:
    i got good at descending from mountain biking, when going down on a mountain bike with all the bumps and stuff you just have to let the bike do what it wants to do and trust it to stay upright, when descending as long as you dont turn in too tight and there are no leaves to slip on your tires will stay gripped to the road surface
    I was a mountain biker for about 5 years... Problem was that I found descending on the mountain bike and descending on the roadie completely different. I knew that my front tyre on the MTB would lose grip, and I was perfectly happy with it sliding sideways. 2 wheel drifts were great fun. If my front wheel slips on my road bike, though, I'm going down hard. That was a bit of a mental block, as I associated going fast with the front wheel slipping. I just had to find out how much extra grip the road bike actually has.
  • feel
    feel Posts: 800
    I consider myself a bit of a descender, I guess I just learnt to get some of the time back I lost through poor climbing.

    Is this code for you are still carrying too much weight :wink:

    Me - i am too fat to climb quickly and too scared to descend quickly :lol:
    We are born with the dead:
    See, they return, and bring us with them.
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  • term1te
    term1te Posts: 1,462
    This reminded me of when I was teaching my son to ride at the local park. The whole park was on a gentle slope, so it was ideal for getting the kids started. Unfortunately there was a single small bush half way down the slope. No matter from where he started, and with 50 m of space either side, he all ways hit the bush. I guess he was just looking at it.

    Back to descending, there was a good article in C+ a few years back by an Australian pro I think. Anyway good advice, I knocked a minute off my descending time of the local big hill just by deliberately letting go of the brakes at the apex of every corner. This forces you to brake properly on the way in to the corner, and allows you to accelerate on the way out. Also knock it up a gear as you enter the corner, making it easier to accelerate out.

    On more gentle corners I find I can regulate my speed by sitting up as you approach the bend, the increased wind resistance slows you, and you are in a better position to shift your weight. Back into the tuck when you've left the corner.
  • Casbar
    Casbar Posts: 168
    Hi Why

    I am a terrible descender..all the time I make up by being a reasonable climber is wasted by my awful descending

    I will try your " Don't break technique "next time I'm out...but so far although I have tried I have never been able to trust my bike going fast through corners. I just dont know the limits and always break 2 much. Anything I can do to find the limit ?

    Worse for me is cornering in the wet....I virtually come to a standstill sometimes... :oops:

    Any tips out there about cornering in the wet ?

    Cheers

    Cas
    exercise.png
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  • jswba
    jswba Posts: 491
    markos1963 wrote:
    Another tip from the world of motorcycling, put your outside foot down at the 6 o'clock position and put your weight through that. This allows more grip through the tyres at the lowest c.o.g you can put the weight through, try it and see the difference.

    I learned this tip a while back and suddenly I was cornering at an extra 5-10kph! Great advice.
  • feel
    feel Posts: 800
    Casbar wrote:
    . I just dont know the limits and always break 2 much. Anything I can do to find the limit ?


    Cas

    when you fall off you know you've reached (and just passed) the limit :lol:
    We are born with the dead:
    See, they return, and bring us with them.
  • iain_j
    iain_j Posts: 1,941
    Thinking about it, my big problem with descending is that I don't trust myself/the bike to corner tightly at speed. I hold back from turning the wheel "too much" in corners, so to counter it I have to slow right down to a speed I know I can ease the bike round at, then accelerate out again. It's caused a few comedy moments (not funny at the time!) when I've been heading for the edge of the road and still not wanted to turn tighter for fear of going over - last year going down the Llanberis Pass I was heading straight for a rock wall on the first big bend for this reason :shock:
  • whyamihere
    whyamihere Posts: 7,700
    iain_j wrote:
    Thinking about it, my big problem with descending is that I don't trust myself/the bike to corner tightly at speed. I hold back from turning the wheel "too much" in corners, so to counter it I have to slow right down to a speed I know I can ease the bike round at, then accelerate out again. It's caused a few comedy moments (not funny at the time!) when I've been heading for the edge of the road and still not wanted to turn tighter for fear of going over - last year going down the Llanberis Pass I was heading straight for a rock wall on the first big bend for this reason :shock:
    Just thought of something to possibly help this... Find a quiet car park, where you can get some speed up. Using the corner of a space as the apex of a corner, ride up to the corner and round it progressively quicker. It will help you see where the limit of the tyres is, and there will be less chance of hitting a wall/car if you get it a bit wrong.
  • markos1963
    markos1963 Posts: 3,724
    jswba wrote:
    markos1963 wrote:
    Another tip from the world of motorcycling, put your outside foot down at the 6 o'clock position and put your weight through that. This allows more grip through the tyres at the lowest c.o.g you can put the weight through, try it and see the difference.

    I learned this tip a while back and suddenly I was cornering at an extra 5-10kph! Great advice.

    This is quite correct, when I did it on my motorbikes I would literally lift my body weight out of the seat doing this. When on the bike I can't do this as well but weighting the outside foot will help, especially loading up the front tyre grip. The big advantage with bicycles is that we can run slick tyres unlike other vehicles. This gives us grip advantages unheard of this side of a track. Also the light weights we have means our relative corner speed can be higher due to the lack of centrifugal effects(just look how much faster a 125GP bike can go mid corner compared to the bigger classes) The only limit to our cornering prowess is the size of our dangly bits.
  • fizz
    fizz Posts: 483
    Casbar wrote:
    Any tips out there about cornering in the wet ?

    As already said, brake earlier and more gently, dont grab the brakes apply them smoothyl and progressively and realse them in the same manner.

    Get your braking done in a straight line and then let the bike flow through the corner. Avoid stuff like manhole covers, white line paint and that kind of tihng otherwise you might find yourself on the floor before you know whats happened.

    Also try to "read" the road, i.e. look at the hedge rows or the white line itself, look for telegraph poles anything like that will give you advance warning of whats coming and the earlier you spot which way the road is going the earlier you can start to plan for it.
  • I came across a handful of videos called the Sportive Survival Guide. One of the episodes is on Descending. Is interesting to see all that advice it in action.

    Here's the link to all the episodes on VideoJug:
    http://tinyurl.com/5qwc44

    The other episodes are on Climbing, Bike Set-up and Ride Prep
    I hope this helps.

    Ride hard...Fall off!
  • Thanks for that link Simon
  • Cheers for the link on Sportive Preparation/Riding.

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