Few things are as enjoyable in cycling as a long, winding descent, but if you want to maximize speed, you need to do more than just rest to admire the scenery.
To do this, you must look for a good combination of speed, stability and maneuverability, which will translate into the fastest and safest way to go down. But how do we do it? It is very simple: with these 6 tips you will be able to dominate the descents by bike and take advantage of your rivals.
6 tips to master downhill cycling
1. Find your balance
The straight downhill posture should be low and aerodynamic: we need to have our hands on the handlebar grips, our elbows bent and tucked in, and in case you are not pedaling, stay level with the pedals with our knees slightly bent and tucked in. inward, and with the buttocks slightly off the saddle for balance and mobility.
Another important thing is that you will have to experiment to find the correct position both in front and behind of your body. The trick is to realize how subtle changes in body position affect stability as you descend.
When both wheels are flat on the ground, it is because you have found the position to face a descent properly.
The key to cycling downhill is relaxation. Any tension in your body will carry over to your bike, thus forming a vicious cycle.
The stiffness of the body makes the bike more difficult to control, causing it to become more tight. This is why, in addition to bending your knees and elbows, you should focus on keeping your shoulders relaxed and on a loose grip on the handlebars.
3. Keep a safe distance
Do not focus on what is happening next to you or in front of you, because it will be too late to do something about it anyway. Try to look for at least 4-5 riders ahead of you to give yourself time to react to potholes or other obstacles and to have a reference point to maintain an acceptable safe distance.
If you are not riding in a group, remember that the faster you are descending, the further ahead you will have to look. A good basic rule of thumb is: if you go 40 km / h, you must maintain a safe distance of up to 15 meters.
Along with this anticipation comes one of the hardest lessons for any aspirant trying to learn to descend at high speed: use less of the brakes . If you look ahead enough, you could avoid a lot of problems without resorting to braking.
4. Work the twists
To have an efficient demonstration of cornering, it is recommended to watch a MotoGP motorcycle race the next time you are watching TV.
Motorcycle riders start wide and begin to brake before entering the curve. They then go down with the bike leaning hard at the corner and finally accelerate at the exit of the curve when the bike is positioning itself vertically. That said, we recommend that you keep this technique in mind on your next descent: slow at first, then come out fast.
Plant your weight on your outer pedal to maintain control as you lean the bike through the arch, and you’ll be able to turn the bike efficiently in no time.
5. Challenge your limits
Trying to go a bit beyond your limit is a sure way to improve. To do this, it is suggested to try to descend with pilots who are better than you (the idea is that they push you to the edge, not on it).
If you start to feel uncomfortable, slow your body down while sitting or raise your head to resist the wind to reduce your speed.
6. Be smart
You should always descend according to the situation that comes your way. If you find yourself out of the front of a group and want to be there, or find yourself out in the back trying to get back into place, go flexed into a straight descent and pedal hard at the exits of each turn to grab more speed.
If you are in a group, you should not make sudden or unpredictable movements to gain small bursts of speed, it is not worth risking the safety of everyone else.
If you are totally tired from the effort of your trip, do not try to stop and do not hesitate to descend.
Once you apply each of these tips you will notice that your speed, stability and maneuverability will have improved a little when making the descents.
It is common that at first it is difficult for you to put them into practice, but if you persevere and apply them daily, you will be able to improve remarkably day by day. It’s time for you to prepare to be the best. Are you ready?
- Antonio Cruz, 6 Tips for Mastering Descents. For Active [revised January 2016].