Train descent skills

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kik3sir
Posts: 13
Joined: Sat Mar 02, 2024 1:54 pm

by kik3sir

Hello,

I just participated in a ultra endurance event, I had good legs but I got dropped at every single descent, either I had to sprint to get back in the group, or I would ride solo for a while waiting for another group to catch me up.

In roundabouts i also lose so many positions as I'm scared to pedal when turning, i'm scared the pedal hits the ground and makes me crash.

I'm not a hot head, I don't want to start taking risks in training to develop this skill, but still I would like to improve, it's a shame to lose so many positions in a race + sprinting in descents where people are actually recovering.

I actually watch a lot of F1 and played a lot of F1 games, i'm familiar with picking the right trajectory but i'm just not confident in my GP 5000 having enough grip, I end up breaking when others don't at all

Do you have any tips to share ?

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mikemelbrooks
Posts: 359
Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2010 10:58 pm

by mikemelbrooks

At my local race track, they hold classes on cornering. What I find helps me is to ride with someone who you trust that corners well and seldom crashes. Just follow them reasonably closely don't brake unless they do, and try to relax if you feel anxious you will tend to snatch at the controls. Gain confidence with slower corners and increase cornering speed as your confidence grows.

Requiem84
Posts: 128
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2020 5:07 pm

by Requiem84

To become more comfortable descending you will need to slowly step by step extend your comfortzone. That's pretty tough, because you will have to (un)learn some habits and do things that are (slightly) beyond your comfort zone. My biggest recommendation is to go a mountaineous area and do a lot of descends. Preferably follow a friend who is good at it and does it with good lines etc. Practice practice practice.

2 main things I see people doing wrong descending:

- Not looking far enough ahead, not looking enough into the corner / where you want to go. Practice this. Watch much further ahead when downhilling. Will make it feel that everything goes slower. When you enter the corner, force yourself to look into the exit. You will automatically go in that direction.
- Lines: many people take entries too tight and end up on the outside too fast. Especially on open roads it helps to go for a late entry. That gives you more options on exit of the corner (potholes, upcoming cars, other riders etc).

Personally I love descending. I'm not crazy fast, but during Mallorca312 gained a lot of time on 90% of the people downhill by doing the basics right without any crazy risk taking. I think it helps if you have done motorbike riding.

skidz
Posts: 32
Joined: Sat Dec 10, 2022 12:42 am

by skidz

Can relate to this and slowly over time have got a lot better. Agree with the post above re technique and that will be the main thing to focus on but a couple of other things:

I use vittoria corsas over gp5k as I think the grip is better. Even if that isn't true, it is in my head, so it works. I have more confidence in corners on my corsas.

Secondly, are you comfortable with your bike fit and how your levers are setup?? If you're a bit stretched or your levers aren't very comfortably reachable, this can make a difference in my opinion. (Saddle height also plays a big part for me).

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cyclespeed
Posts: 1176
Joined: Mon Jun 06, 2016 8:45 am

by cyclespeed

I have a few videos on descending on Youtube.

This is the most recent one;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6V6__ENiN4I&t=5s

Practice and confidence are key.

Tifosiphil
Posts: 386
Joined: Wed Nov 14, 2018 11:09 pm

by Tifosiphil

If you are UK based you can actually go on courses to help. Johnny Towers (ex-British superbike rider) and father to two professional riders used to hold these

repoman
Posts: 32
Joined: Mon Jun 10, 2024 3:28 pm

by repoman

Go to a parking lot, get up to a good pace and practice leaning the bike over to start building memory of grip ability of the tires, if you do this over and over it will expand your notion of what a bike can handle in terms of loading up when cornering.
A lot of times you have to remeber/look at the bigger picture if it's worth it to be risking yourself if you aren't comfortable...getting 34th place instead of 46th in some random event no one cares about isn't worth it if you are worried about crashing.

Requiem84
Posts: 128
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2020 5:07 pm

by Requiem84

@repoman: I find that good cornering (/descending) is not about taking risks. But it is about becoming comfortable.

I think it's more risky if you're cramped on the bike and if you have tunnel-vision syndrome. Basically you are in minor panic mode and you don't have any spare mental capacity to properly respond to anything. If you get better and more comfortable at descending it might not feel faster, but it will be faster. But moreover, it will be much safer.

OtterSpace
Posts: 383
Joined: Sun Mar 08, 2020 6:28 am
Location: California Silicon Valley

by OtterSpace

Confidence is the biggest thing but in addition to that and line selecting I have another to add.

On a bike one of the biggest things keeping us from going faster in general is our rider contribution to CdA.

When decending don't forget that your position can not just help you go faster but help you slow down with an aerobrake.

Tuck when you dont need to brake, if it is safe to do so, but also before you need to brake sit up a bit to add more CdA to help slow you down while braking before returing to a more aero position.

For confidence a braking system that works well that you trust is critical. Some rotors just work better than the super light stuff for real descents. Also wide tires are a huge confidence boost.

twoangstroms
Posts: 500
Joined: Thu Sep 15, 2005 6:49 am

by twoangstroms

Love this question and the tips people are sharing.

I've had periodic issues with descending, with the period usually being after having crashed. A few mental/emotional things have helped me, though of course there are a lot of technical things, such as where your weight is, bike geometry, etc.

1. Take out a bike with big, smooth tires on a nearby descent. Find a corner or area that scares you and do downhill repeats, increasing your speed until where you start to feel uncomfortable. The next repeat, you might be able to up the speed.
2. Repeat to yourself, out loud if necessary, "It's okay, I'm okay, it's okay" (this is low-grade cognitive behavioral therapy)
3. Focus on riders in front of you; they're doing it, they're ok!
4. Get used to the reaction your body has, recognize it

Does this mean I'm now a good decender? No, I still can get dropped! I'm light and other people who love descents rail the hills here.

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MayhemSWE
Posts: 872
Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2015 12:44 pm
Location: Stockholm, Sweden

by MayhemSWE

You do descend down in the drops, right? Most slow descenders seem to not use the drops for whatever reason. If your body is not comfortable in the drops, you have the wrong fit or perhaps even the wrong bike.

If visibility is good and the road is clear, and even more so if you're doing a gran fondo with closed roads so you know there shouldn't be any opposing traffic, make use of the whole road. Makes it much easier to go fast through corners.

Also agree on the advice above about using your whole body as an airbrake and see if you can get a faster friend to coach you. If your coach in front of you adjusts his speed by way of body position, it makes it easy for you to immediately see when he is slowing down or speeding up.

I am a pretty decent descender and almost never have anyone passing me. If someone does pass me, they're typically the kind that descends like a true pro or at least a true daredevil…

twoangstroms
Posts: 500
Joined: Thu Sep 15, 2005 6:49 am

by twoangstroms

Closed roads or not is a big difference. The optimal or most comfortable line at your speed might not be within the lane.

Last Saturday, descending Tam, one car heading uphill decided to pass a bunch of cars, which meant suddenly we were facing two lanes of oncoming traffic. One of these lanes was our downhill lane. We were very lucky we could avoid that psycho, but I'll tell you what, I was a lot slower on the rest of the descent (even if that made no sense).

BBres
Posts: 292
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2020 3:20 pm

by BBres

I'd also say:

get as low as possible, grab your drops, lean forward, bend your elbows. This way you lower the center of gravity which makes you more stable and also reduces the risk of losing grip.

I absolutely agree with the guys above about descending right behind someone you trust and who is more experienced. Just be very concenterated because othwerwise you may end up hitting your friend if you brake late.

There is another common technique - let's say you are hitting the left corner - you can try to slightly bend and rotate your upper body to the right, so your shoulders and your eyes are as horizontal to the ground as possible. That's what Pidcock does. If you imagine his spine it is not paralel to the top tube of his bike, but bent to the left. This way you reduce that deceptive feeling of leaning too deep.

Image

cheapvega
Posts: 466
Joined: Sun Oct 06, 2019 1:12 pm

by cheapvega

Requiem84 wrote:
Tue Jun 18, 2024 12:36 pm
To become more comfortable descending you will need to slowly step by step extend your comfortzone. That's pretty tough, because you will have to (un)learn some habits and do things that are (slightly) beyond your comfort zone. My biggest recommendation is to go a mountaineous area and do a lot of descends. Preferably follow a friend who is good at it and does it with good lines etc. Practice practice practice.

2 main things I see people doing wrong descending:

- Not looking far enough ahead, not looking enough into the corner / where you want to go. Practice this. Watch much further ahead when downhilling. Will make it feel that everything goes slower. When you enter the corner, force yourself to look into the exit. You will automatically go in that direction.
- Lines: many people take entries too tight and end up on the outside too fast. Especially on open roads it helps to go for a late entry. That gives you more options on exit of the corner (potholes, upcoming cars, other riders etc).

Personally I love descending. I'm not crazy fast, but during Mallorca312 gained a lot of time on 90% of the people downhill by doing the basics right without any crazy risk taking. I think it helps if you have done motorbike riding.
I was going to say, this is exactly how I approach cornering at the race track, with some caveats around opening the throttle.

With bicycles momentum is everything, but a lot of the general tips carry over. And while it's simple it's not easy! I still struggle with looking far enough ahead. It's unnatural

by Weenie


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TobinHatesYou
Posts: 13013
Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:02 pm

by TobinHatesYou

Find someone slightly faster than you at descending and then follow them. Do exactly what they do. They hang their butt slightly off the outside of the saddle, you hang your butt off the saddle. They coast, you coast. They pedal, you pedal. Understand the basics of countersteer. Firm up but don't become completely rigid in your arms. Push the inside arm forward and brace your outside wrist against the end of the drops. Get your torso low. Point your chest and hips where you want to go.

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