The Ten Essentials To Descending Like a Rockstar.



Cryder

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Mar 19, 2004
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Originally posted by keydates:
I'm sure it's been asked many times before, but any suggestions on handling turns on any kind of (steep) descent?

This question was posted in another thread relating to your highest speed ever. I felt it was good enough to start a new thread for folks to discuss.

Wether you race or ride recreationaly, being smooth and competant on the bike says a lot about your labor of love. In the finer aspects of life on the bike, it not only makes a statement about your ability, it serves a very practical function of staving off injury to self and others.

Add high speed decents to the equation of your form and you either have a recipe for a beautiful expression of control and mastery of the art, or a great way to way to get yourself or someone else hurt.

IMO: The ten essentials to descending like a rock star...

1) Know your limits. I have seen enough people find out too late once in a corner that they are in over their head. I have even done that a few times myself and learned the very hard way. Don't assume because another cyclist clears a corner that you can do the same. The nuances of sticking a line are very subtle and hard to recognize. A seasoned rider will be better equipped to stick a tough line. Again, know your own limits.

2) Visualize or die. Make sure your brain believes what your body and the environ around you are asking it do. Remember the times you have cornered well. Tell yourself that this time is no different and that you can do. Believe it, and it makes committing to the line much easier.

3) Once you commit, stay committed. If you try to stick a line, bailing out (or even breaking) once the corner is initiated means that doom is 90% certain.

4) Own your line, not the road. Pick a good apex, and don’t let it go. Blowing your line will affect other riders around you and could get someone hurt.

5) Once you hit your brakes, your corner is blown. Because your center of gravity has been readjusted, the bike goes upright (this is different then feathering your brakes to scrub speed). Always try to brake before the corner, and make only small adjustments to line and speed once in the corner.

6) Where you look is where you go. Keep your eye on the apex, not the ditch on the other side of the road. This is most overlooked cornering principle I know of.

7) Make decisions with your bottom bracket, not your handlebars. At high speed, your center of gravity is the end all and be all to holding a line. Always reinforce your bottom bracket decisions by weighting your downward pedal.

8) The higher your speed, the slower your movements. A little twitch at high speed has a big effect, and countering a mistake takes supreme confidence and skill.

9) If you do hit your brakes, your front has 70% more stopping power. Ease into any major braking action. Panicking and locking them up turns you into a sled with runners that go "boom".

10) Have a "back door". Riding with other cyclist, or cars for that matter, requires that you have an emergency exit if things go wrong. If someone takes your line, its your problem. Think ahead, it could save your life.
 

Cryder

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Originally posted by keydates
What exactly is the "bottom bracket?"

The bottom bracket is where the bicycles cranks are conected to the frame, making it the most natural place to affect your center of gravity.
 

brightgarden

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Oct 19, 2003
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Wow, this is excellent. I always thought it was about instinct. I've been told that I have amazingly good form going downhill considering my novice status, but whenever I think about it, I feel really unstable, so I don't think about it. But I have had plenty of falls, mostly on the dirt trails.

There is one other trick I've read about but didn't try until recently--and later realized that I do this naturally too, but in the gut-reaction mode. That is, when you find yourself going into a turn faster than you expect, say a right turn, turn the handlebars slightly to the left, and that immediatly drops the angle of the bike toward the right allowing you to suddenly take a tighter turn. It is hazardous considering the force and friction and all that--probably really dangerous in certain conditions (like wet/slippery road). But it is a good trick to know in order to avoid hitting the inevitable car that turns right in front of you...
 

brightgarden

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Uh, let me qualify that last: my highest speed going downhill was a tad over 35, which some may not consider all that fast or "high speed"--but for me, it is frightening enough.
 

EoinC

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Feb 9, 2004
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Originally posted by brightgarden
There is one other trick I've read about but didn't try until recently--and later realized that I do this naturally too, but in the gut-reaction mode. That is, when you find yourself going into a turn faster than you expect, say a right turn, turn the handlebars slightly to the left, and that immediatly drops the angle of the bike toward the right allowing you to suddenly take a tighter turn.
This is not actually a trick. It is how all turns at faster-than-walking-pace are initiated on a bike or motorbike. Try riding along a straight section of road (without getting run down by road trains and attacked by small dogs) and give the bars a small flick to one side. The bike will drop to the other side and initiate the turn. Everybody does this every time they turn at any speed fast enough for the bike to have straight line stability. It's just that it is natural and so they don't realise they are doing it. If you initiate a turn by "steering" in the direction you want to go, you's a gonna go da wrong way!

EoinC
 

KGnagey

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Jan 2, 2004
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For descending:
1) Tuck - get aero, bring hands, elbows, and knees in, lower your chin to your stem or handle bar
2) Stay loose let the bike float beneath you

For turns:
1) Weight your outside pedal
2) Shift some weight to the handle bars for control
3) Look through the turn and visualize your exits
4) Brake before the turn, NOT IN IT.
 

EoinC

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Originally posted by KGnagey
For descending:
1) Tuck - get aero, bring hands, elbows, and knees in, lower your chin to your stem or handle bar
To get real "Aero", adopt the "Eddie-does-the-Giro" ie. Cranks horizontal + Chin down near Handlebar Stem + Hands wrapped around behind back of Seat......and then descend at ballistic speed down through the Italian Alps with dense fog reducing forward visibility to about 2" past the Brake Lever Hoods. Now that man could descend!!! I remember seeing film footage of him pulling away from the Camera Motorbike that was chasing him....just freewheeling when he was above spinning max, disappearing off into the fog.

EoinC
 

Jakey

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Feb 7, 2004
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Originally posted by EoinC
To get real "Aero", adopt the "Eddie-does-the-Giro" ie. Cranks horizontal + Chin down near Handlebar Stem + Hands wrapped around behind back of Seat......and then descend at ballistic speed down through the Italian Alps with dense fog reducing forward visibility to about 2" past the Brake Lever Hoods. Now that man could descend!!! I remember seeing film footage of him pulling away from the Camera Motorbike that was chasing him....just freewheeling when he was above spinning max, disappearing off into the fog.

EoinC


Thats insane.
 

EoinC

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Feb 9, 2004
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Originally posted by Jakey
Thats insane.
I guess that's part of why his nickname was "the Cannibal" and not "the Cherry Blossom"!?!

EoinC
 

brightgarden

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Oct 19, 2003
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Originally posted by EoinC
This is not actually a trick.

Caught again! But I think I used my poor word "trick" as something that is counter-intuitive to the brain (if not to the body or to physics or any universal constant). Not that I thought of using that word specifically. But I do think the first time I tried this consciously wondering what its affect would be, I certainly approached it as some trick I had to try to see what it would do. It was only afterwards that I realized that I already knew (or my body did anyhow) how to do this thing. My mind had not yet reconciled it.

But I have to go get my duds on for an early ride. Had half a pint of Young's last night, and am raring to go.

Cheers,

Maggie