/ Cycling technique books?
At the moment my descending is really holding me back, I get nervous and always panic a bit when it's steep down hill, even if the speed isn't that much. The other day I was out and I reached 37mph before I bottled it, everyone else in the group was doing over 40mph.
Why did you panic? Was there a corner coming up, or did you just feel 'unsafe' at the speed you were doing?
There are some basic tips that you can pick up on the internet for cornering at speed whilst descending, and I'm sure we could list them here, but once you're read them it really does take getting out there and embracing the speed and the sensation of it to become more comfortable with it - Then there are more advanced techniques you can pick up to really drop people on the descents.
I think it's important to look at the mental side of why you don't descend faster though. eg. your use of the phrase 'bottled it' is quite interesting.
Well the bike had a little wobble and I just felt unstable.
On or off road?
Some specific coaching might help better particularly since it may be your main issue is psychological (bottling it rather than stacking it).
> Well the bike had a little wobble and I just felt unstable.
Ok. That's not 'bottling it'. That's making a decision that you don't want to spread yourself in a thin layer down the tarmac.
What you need to do is identify the sort of wobble, the cause of it and how to prevent it or at least minimise it for your next descent.
In order to descend faster you need to be confident in;
- Your bike Well maintained. Good quality, undamaged, tyres. etc.
- Your skill and judgement. Comes with reading then practising.
- Knowing that the bike is going to do what you ask it. Sometimes you have to go close to the edge to find out where the limits are.
Do you know any good descenders? Have you followed their line down a hill?
On road only. It's not just descending that I want to know about though, it's everything, cornering, race tactics, etc. There must be some kind of guide out there? There is for everything else :-P
In addition to that I'm going to find a hill and practise going down lots. I'm ok on the straight, but I'm not good at cornering down hill :-P
It's not the bike, it's in A1 condition, wheels are 100% true, tyres are perfect, etc.
I do lean round corners which is good. Any idea where I should put my body weight, fore or aft? Does it make a difference? When cornering on the flat it seems to turn quicker if I put more weight on the front wheel, don't want to make it more twitchy downhill though...
What I learnt through that process may be of some help to you. I don't like big open hills or long straight descents of the same gradient (as this is where I crashed) I prefer technical descents which give me much more to occupy my mind than a straight descent does.
However some hills somehow just feel safer and I searched these out and practiced my descending on those and held back on the bigger ones (I didn't really go looking for them but where they were on regular training loops I just tried to descend as best I could).
I quickly found that on the ones I felt safe on that I could easily get over 40 by not braking, carrying the momentum through, tucking in on the drops etc. As I was relaxed all these things were much easier and then descending at speed became a lot of fun again and I would relish doing it on hills I felt safe on. So on the same tame hill I could increase the mph by a few more mph after a few goes just by relaxing and doing all the right things.
As I became more accustomed to doing that I could then transfer that to the hills I didn't like until I felt completely relaxed on all the hills (except in strong cross winds still hate that!).
What I do is tuck in once I start to spin out at around 36-37mph on a 52-12, get in the drops and tuck in and concentrate on having relaxed shoulders and arms and to grip the bars loosely and allow the bike to 'float' under me. Brake before corners and mostly with the front but try to brake less and less if I can to carry the momentum. But being relaxed is the real key, being tense makes it more likely you'll crash!
I also helped myself with this by buying a new bike that descends like a dream! It's so confidence inspiring but I realise that's not an option for everyone, but it worked for me. Good luck!
I'm not sure whether its still on line but Chris Boardman did a little video about descending for ITV's coverage from last years tour. Some interesting mental exercises he mentioned - the main one being to look where you want to go, not where you don't !
> I do lean round corners which is good. Any idea where I should put my body weight, fore or aft? Does it make a difference? When cornering on the flat it seems to turn quicker if I put more weight on the front wheel, don't want to make it more twitchy downhill though...
You'll automatically turn if you stick your knee out cornering, watch Spartacus descending http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxXqQqAc2pA
Cheers guys lots of good info here!
That link you posted looks good - that video of the guy using no hands is mental though :-P
My top tips:
-Comfortably low - aero, but not head below back height!
-Inside knee out to shift CoG inside and to allow bike to stay more upright
-Feet level - knees tucked in and against cross bar - more areo and helps quell any developing wobble
-Even weight distribution on wheels, especially going round corners - avoid 'swooshing' your front wheel
- Smooth line around bends - outside/apex/outside if no traffic behind and taking care on right handers not to stick your head into a car's line
- braking - never on bends, and back-wheel-weighted - you're only looking to scrub a bit off, not to stop and the last thing you need is to lose grip at the front - back's just dramatic - front's catastrophic.
If you're getting scared - sit up tall and relax - air braking with a bit of back brake - slow down before it gets out of control. Don't keep your brakes on all the way donw - you'll trash them - sit up tall instead and take your speed off a bit at a time if you need to.
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