Tips for those Long Descents!
When you cycle you always think about the challenges of cycling uphill. Climbing is a big part of the sport and it is only natural that you want to be able to test your limits on legends such as Mont Ventoux or Galibier. As such, there is a wealth of coaching information about how to be a better climber, and indeed the climbs themselves.
Coming down the mountain, however, is somewhat neglected. Although speed is not dangerous in itself it can take you by surprise at just how fast you go when you’re going into a long descent. The idea behind this post is to give you some advice for better and safer and better descending on your bike.
New cyclists have a tendency to look at the ground rather than what is far down the road. This is a mistake. By concentrating on what is in the distance you will naturally guide the bike as to where you want it to go and have the time to prepare for bends. It also allows you to avoid oncoming traffic and other cyclists more effectively.
Cornering and Bends
When taking corners try and get into the right speed and position before you go into the bend. That is to say apply the brakes before you hit it. Ideally, you do not want to apply a brake while in the bend itself. When going into a bend, you want your outside leg in the six o’clock position (straight) and you want to concentrate your weight through this pedal.
This will help you maintain balance through corners and keep you in control.
When going into hairpins take these wide and always stay on the correct side of the road. You do not want to be run over!
Regardless of the type of bend, always look beyond it to give you a natural line to follow.
Our head cycling coach Martin, believes the right cycling position for descending is about what feels right. He said:
"You want your weight balanced on the bike. If you're too far back or your upper body is too high, the front wheel will feel loose .If you're too far forward or too low, the rear wheel will feel unstable. To find the correct balance, take note of how subtle shifts in body position affect stability as you descend. When both wheels feel glued to the ground, you've hit the jackpot: This is your basic descending position.
"Everyone needs to experiment to find the right front-to-back position for the body.
"There is a vast difference in all riders, all to do with weight transfer and your own confidence."
Be Aware of Other Riders
As well as traffic be aware of other riders. You may be in full control and be confident in what you’re doing, but other riders may not be. Never ride too close to riders you do not know, and always allow plenty of room when overtaking. This should give you warning and time to take evasive action should you need to.
Let the Bike do the Work
Descending is great fun and a reward after the hours of climbing you have just endured. It is a good idea to keep your shoulders relaxed and guide rather than fight your bike. You will find that descending is faster, easier, and you will have more control.
Descending on Mont Ventoux
With reported speed of 100 kph (although we restrict you to 50 kph) is this the descent to end all descents? It could well be so why not take our Mont Ventoux Challenge and cycle up and then down the mountain the pros respect. Click here.