Intentional Training for Descending Aero Position

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by Felt_Rider, Apr 8, 2008.

  1. Felt_Rider

    Felt_Rider Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2004
    Messages:
    3,257
    Likes Received:
    27
    After my last crash I have been really aprehensive on fast descents. Where I was typically one of the first down on fast descents with switch backs now I am the last down even on straight sections. I should say that my past experience is not extensive, but I had no fear until my last crash did so much equipment and physical damage.

    My current form (post crash) is to use the more conservative position with my hands on the drops, but now the difference I see in this position compared to an equal or better descender in a position with their chin almost on their stem and hands next to the stem or where they are sitting down on the top bar and chin down on the stem can really pick up an advantage.

    Is this something I should be working on incrementally?
    I do hill repeats today on a 4 lane parkway with mostly straight sections popular with cyclists in my area. It may be a good place to experiment, but the descents are pretty steep and one can typically pick up speeds in the high 40's to low 50's without trying. With low confidence now in my descending ability I am struggling on how to proceed to regain confidence and get into a fairly good aero position.

    I have to say taking the conservative position with being a little less aero and being down last in my group by a few seconds I have been able to catch up, but at the expense of using additional energy. One caveat is that I do not race. This all "aggressive recreational" if there is a description to be applied so I have had thoughts that perhaps I should just stay conservative and not take the risks from this point forward.

    I have talked with the veterans that I ride with and instead of advice I usually get, "you'll forget your crash in time and then get back to being more aggressive." :)
     
    Tags:


  2. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2005
    Messages:
    4,687
    Likes Received:
    4
    I would agree that memories of the crash will fade in time and you'll become more comfortable going fast again.

    That said, I really don't see a reason to be emulating the most aggressive professional descending positions on recreational rides (although I understand that many people do just that). For me it's hands on the drops, knees and elbows pulled in as tight as possible, and chin down close to the stem. That's even for the relatively straight downhills that we have here. I'm just not comfortable around some other riders without my hands near the brakes, and I'm willing to give up a small advantage unless I'm really hanging on for dear life.
     
  3. jsirabella

    jsirabella New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2005
    Messages:
    1,715
    Likes Received:
    4
    You will gain back the confidence with time and you should feel really good that you have the ability to get it back as some of us have still not experienced that kind of confidence on a downhill section yet. (i.e. me) [​IMG].

    I have found though this year that as I ride, the hills that I would fear and loathe on the downhill have now started to feel slow. Meaning the game has seems to have slowed down for me like in football when I was young. I think that may be a sign of good things. Also I notice as I continue to get a lower riding position my confidence goes up and feels more stable.

    Last I had been advised from many that you should not be leading on the descents and let the other guys use their energy to fight the wind. Than on the uphill you should try to make your move to the front. Not sure if I am right but that is my understanding.

    I would like to add though "don't force it" pride can be a good thing but this is a rec ride and your paycheck does not depend on if you are doing 30 or 50 miles per hour on the descent.

    -js

     
  4. Felt_Rider

    Felt_Rider Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2004
    Messages:
    3,257
    Likes Received:
    27
    Thanks for the feedback and glad to know there are other veterans that are not taking the absolute most aggressive position. I guess I will continue to work harder on the engine so that I can make up the time loss instead of the seeking a precarious aero position on fast descents. I have tried the position several times before with a deep tuck and hands & chin near the stem, but I don't have good enough control and my crashes have kind of proved that I suppose. :eek:
     
  5. jsirabella

    jsirabella New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2005
    Messages:
    1,715
    Likes Received:
    4
    One other thing..."aggressice rec"...lol...from my experience I am not sure if I have ever seen another way.

    I think that describes just about every ride when you get a bunch of guys and bikes together....

    -js


     
  6. Felt_Rider

    Felt_Rider Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2004
    Messages:
    3,257
    Likes Received:
    27
    Thanks guys -these are definately rational thoughts.
     
  7. Felt_Rider

    Felt_Rider Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2004
    Messages:
    3,257
    Likes Received:
    27
    :) .......and all sense of rational thinking goes out the window at 40+ mph. The one big reminder is my shoulder still popping in and out as I descend makes me feather the brakes a little more.
     
  8. Powerful Pete

    Powerful Pete New Member

    Joined:
    May 29, 2004
    Messages:
    3,866
    Likes Received:
    0
    Remember, as others have said, that your livelihood does not depend on making it down the hill as fast as you can. Assume as aerodynamic a position as you feel comfortable with.

    Never forget that the pro riders sticking their butts in the air, hands together and nose on the stem are riding on closed roads, with an ambulance and helicopter medevac at their disposal. Their salary depends on descending as quickly as they can. And they regulary ride 20000 km a year, so they are a wee bit more comfortable on the bike. Something tells me your downhilling is not done in the same environment.
     
  9. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2006
    Messages:
    3,857
    Likes Received:
    97
    Personally I wouldn't put too much emphasis on the ability to go fast on a straight descent in a deep tuck. I've never ridden a road race where a straight descent decided the outcome. A technical twisty descent with lots of tight corners maybe but not the nose over stem style straight shot. Spending some time working on countersteering, good weight on the outside pedal, connecting attack points in straight line segments. That kind of stuff might make a difference on a fast technical descent but for straight shots just work them at a safe comfortable speed and get comfortable riding fast on those skinny tires again, more speed will come with time.

    Good luck,
    -Dave
     
  10. Felt_Rider

    Felt_Rider Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2004
    Messages:
    3,257
    Likes Received:
    27
    Thanks Dave

    I also found this while searching the web this morning.
    Pretty much backing up what you guys are saying.

    LINK

    I do remember what one of the local veterans told me (he is an exceptional climber). He told me he worked hard for years on climbing because descending was his weakness. I can testify that he climbs so fast that even with him being conservative downhill he is hard to catch (for me anyways).
     
  11. strader

    strader New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2007
    Messages:
    195
    Likes Received:
    0
    I've seen guys in the middle of a cat 5 :rolleyes: peloton go into an aggressive tuck with their chin on the bars and hands next to the stem. I was able to keep pace with them with my hands on the hoods and soft pedaling at <50 watts. I could see doing it if you are part of a small break, but in the middle of a cat 5 peloton... wtf???
     
  12. TheDarkLord

    TheDarkLord New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2007
    Messages:
    3,887
    Likes Received:
    0
    Maybe that is due to their lack of experience?
     
  13. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2006
    Messages:
    3,857
    Likes Received:
    97
    We caught and passed a Cat 5 group in a road race last summer. There was a guy dead center in the group of 20-30 riders in a mock aero position steering with his elbows on normal road bars. Sure enough moments after we passed there was that familiar sound of metal hitting the pavement and I looked back to see him and several riders who'd been following him down on the asphalt. Not a lot of need to lay down in TT position in the middle of the field and awfully dangerous to those around you.....

    -Dave
     
  14. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2005
    Messages:
    4,687
    Likes Received:
    4
    I never tuck in the middle of a peloton. The accordian effect dictates that the group will stretch at the top of the hill, and those that try to aggressively close the gap during the descent are in for a nasty surprise when the road flattens at the bottom. It's kinda tricky to let the spacing expand and contract in a natural way without overreacting on either side.
     
  15. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2008
    Messages:
    10,057
    Likes Received:
    185
    If you're descending in a group, stick behind the folks that you trust the most. Most of descending is a "trust" issue anyway - how much faith do you have in the tires not losing grip, or the brakes stopping you etc etc. It will take time before you feel really comfortable going down hill at high speed again and having people to follow will help more than trying to deal with it yourself.

    As far as the position goes - I'd work on getting lower first and then start thinking about moving your hands away from the brake levers towards the center of the bars/stem. Slide your butt towards the back (or even off the back) of the saddle to stretch out a little and shift the weight towards the back of the bike a little on the steeper descents, to even out the weight distribution. I find that I'm slightly less prone to locking up the rear brake this way when approaching tight turns on a fast downhill.
     
  16. Piotr

    Piotr New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2007
    Messages:
    794
    Likes Received:
    0
    And then, there are time trials where you end up in an aero position going downhill at 40-45 MPH. Maybe even passing others while doing so. :eek: I sure hope people practice "aero-descending" before entering such events.
     
  17. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2006
    Messages:
    3,857
    Likes Received:
    97
    Look's like we've got one of those this weekend, have you gotten some practice in your new aero bars?

    -Dave
     
  18. Piotr

    Piotr New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2007
    Messages:
    794
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yup, we do. I did ride around in the bars a little, not 40-45 MPH though. But I've ridden that hill quite a few times, mostly down on my training rides. I can get lower in the drops, but not narrower. I don't know which is faster, but the TT it's fairly short (<20 min?) so either way maybe I won't lose too much time. I don't have a TT bike.

    I'm more worried about Stage 1 being fairly flat with a few gentle rolls. IIRC, 45's start 10 min behind us and I wouldn't be shocked if you guys passed us. 3's kinda suck about getting breaks organized in flatter races. Remember Zimbelman/Shaefer in Lotoja? Yeah, those guys race 45's. :eek:

    But this is oh so OT. :eek:
     
  19. Felt_Rider

    Felt_Rider Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2004
    Messages:
    3,257
    Likes Received:
    27



    Since this was my hot topic of the day I tried to take notice of my position this evening. I am sitting a little forward on the saddle, which is typical for me so I slid back to the back of the saddle. The rest of the position was like frenchy described (except I did not drop my chin too much) and it felt a little more stabile even with a few stiff crosswinds. Even though I was lagging behind my friend, I wasn't too far back and it wasn't much trouble getting back up to him. I think I will stick with this for a while until I get some more confidence back and work on getting a little lower.

    Thanks for tips guys
     
Loading...
Loading...