How to descend - 10 top tips for beginners

How to descend - 10 top tips for beginners

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Whether you are new to cycling or just looking to improve your technique, here are our top 10 tips for descending.

1)     Look ahead

Look down the road where you want to go rather than at the tarmac just in front of your front wheel, the pot-hole you want to avoid or the backside of the rider ahead.

2)     Relax

If you are tense, this will be transmitted to your bike and result in twitchy and unpredictable handling. Stay relaxed, don’t cling onto your bars with a death-grip and keep your knees and elbows soft to absorb bumps.

3)     Get low

The lower you get your body and your centre of gravity, the more stable and aerodynamic you will be. You can also use the technique of sitting up slightly to use your body to control your speed without having to brake.

4)     Use your drops

If you are riding a road bike, using your drops gets you lower, more stable and it is the most secure position for your hands. It also gives you the most leverage and power for braking.

5)     Get back

As the gradient increases, shift your weight back towards the rear of your saddle. Also, drop your heels to give a more secure foot position.

6)     Brake positively

If you need to reduce your speed, brake positively, applying both front and rear brake. Your front brake is more powerful and should be slightly favoured unless the gradient is extremely steep or the surface slippery. Don’t drag your brakes continuously and, if approaching a corner, try to do all of your braking before you start to turn.

7)     Leave a gap if riding with others

The faster you are travelling, the bigger the gap you should leave to the rider ahead and, if it is wet, increase the distance even more as your stopping distance will be greater.

8)     Foot position

On straight descents keep your feet level, in the quarter to three position. You will find you have a preferred leading foot, usually the left if you are right footed. Through corners, have your inside pedal up and push your weight down through your outside pedal.

9)     Ride predictably

If there are other riders coming up from behind, don’t panic. Maintain your speed and try to ride a smooth and predictable line. Avoid any sudden deviations, braking and let the riders pass on your outside.

10)  Follow to learn

One of the best ways to learn good descending technique, such as lines round corners and braking, is to follow a more experienced rider. Try to mimic their body position and, by looking well down the road ahead of them, predicting the line they will take.

To learn more check out these Ridesmart videos on descending and cornering.


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