Descending down hills

tippo Posts: 4
edited May 2010 in Road beginners
I am a 44 year old beginner to road cycling. Got knocked of bike 6 weeks ago! I have always lacked confidence going down hills. I seem to be afraid to let the bike, I keep using the brakes. I descend down the hills very slowly.
Can anybody give me advice on how to descend more efficiently. I am now very cautious after accident.


  • Ollieda
    Ollieda Posts: 1,010
    If you can find a hill near you to practice on it will help, just go down the hill letting yourself go faster and faster each time. It's all about just building that confidence up more and more.

    Reduce your speed for corners that need it before the corner so you're not pulling the brakes whilst trying to concentrate on turning.

    Try to come out slightly into the road on corners to reduce the angle of the turn (obviously only do this if there's little or no traffic!) so you can take the corner smothly.

    Keeping the outside pedal fully down in a corner and put more of your weight through it.

    Check out some of the info on sheldon brown's site:

    or have a look at what many say it's a superb example of a descent at speed by Cancellara:
  • pbt150
    pbt150 Posts: 316
    First of all, there's no shame in descending slowly. Fastest I've ever been down a hill was ~42 mph, most of my mates have broken the 50 barrier.

    I just try to look ahead as much as possible and pick my line nice and early, whilst keeping a look out for potholes or drain covers. I also find holding on to the top-tube with my knees makes the bike feel more planted on the road, with my feet at the 3 and 9 o'clock positions. I'm also more stable riding on the hoods.

    If you want to increase your speed once you get a bit more confident, have a think about getting down into a tuck position with your hands on the drops, at higher speed the wind resistance will be holding you back a lot.
  • Erudin
    Erudin Posts: 136
    edited May 2010
    Hope you've recovered from your accident and it didn't do much damage. Dislocated a finger back in January when I hit some black ice so know how it can knock you back.

    Make sure your bike is set up so that is comfortable and handles well when descending in the drops. The brakes should be comfortable to reach and use. if you are all tensed up you won't flow through the corners, avoid having a "death grip" on the handlebars. Look far ahead into the line of the turns to where you want to go, your body and bike will follow.

    Having a mountain biker pedaling away furiously trying to keep in front of me helped motivate me the other day, waited for a straight stretch then passed him at 50 going down Pork Hill coming off Dartmoor. Just got back into road biking last few months so really enjoying going faster than on my mountain bikes.

    Ride within your limits, and save the speedier descents for hills you are familiar with and can safely enjoy the speed on.
  • rick_chasey
    rick_chasey Posts: 74,641
    Press down on the outside pedal when cornering. Helps a lot.

    Trust the tyres will stick (obviously a little different when it's not dry/clean)

    Be loose.

    Have the weight a little further back.

    Don't brake as much! (< from my experience, people are slow because they're hitting the brakes in places I just wouldn't, rather than anything else).
  • Monty Dog
    Monty Dog Posts: 20,614
    Learn from a more experienced rider - follow them down a hill and you can take their line and see how they set themselves up. Keep yourself loose, don't keep a 'death grip' on the bars, don't ride the brakes - when braking you lessening control of the bike.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • AidanR
    AidanR Posts: 1,142
    Bike lover and part-time cyclist.
  • dbb
    dbb Posts: 323
    all of the above is good advice. to add
    while pressing down on your outer foot, also press down with your inside hand.
    relax - a rigid and stiff body will cause speed wobbles
    try just using rear brakes - no front

    and above all else, enjoy the speed - you deserve it after climbing the hill
  • desweller
    desweller Posts: 5,175
    I find I like to stand on the pedals a bit when descending, just enough to keep my backside off the saddle, so that when the bike hits that unexpected bump at speed, there is a bit of compliance in the system to absorb the shock.

    Apart from that, just stay relaxed. It does help to have some good tyres if you're going to be sticking it into the bends.
    - - - - - - - - - -
    On Strava.{/url}
  • pst88
    pst88 Posts: 621
    I have a similar problem when descending, feels like any slight bump or gust of wind will have me off the bike and sliding down the tarmac on my arse. I think possibly I am too tense on the bike so will try to relax more on my next ride. Could also be my setup isn't quite right but not sure what to do about it.
    Bianchi Via Nirone Veloce/Centaur 2010