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Seeking descending advice (longish)(9 posts)

Seeking descending advice (longish)Duane Gran
Jul 17, 2002 4:10 PM
I do a bit of racing, but I've analyzed a particular area that is a weakness for me: descending. This is a damn shame because climbing is my biggest strength, so I tend to lose time going downhill. Basically my problem is a matter of nerves. Once the speed gets much over 70km/h (~43mph) I get very nervous about turns.

So.. I guess the problem specifically involves fast descents with turns. I've tried various rationalizations, like "they guy in front of me took the turn, so I can too" or "a bike tyre has a lot more grip than I give it credit for." Nonetheless, I find myself getting freaked and braking a little before the turns. I know this can potentially be a danger to others and I limit it as much as possible.

Maybe the problem is that I hate that "in the pit of the stomach" feeling when you take a turn too hot. Ironically, I have no such problem on the flats. In crits I hit the turns just fine. I think on the flats the speed remains constant, whereas in a descent the acceleration is further punctuated.

To remedy this I've been practicing on a descent that intimidates me and gradually increasing my speed. This is helping, but I'm wondering if other readers may have some advice on the matter?
I think you are doing the right thing..Lone Gunman
Jul 17, 2002 5:47 PM
Practice. Practice keeping the bike as upright as possible in the turns, picking the correct line to take before you get there and set it up, setting the hips to carve the turn, push/pull the handlebars, until it all comes together and you get that boost of confidence to become highly proficient at downhill turns.

You also might study the really good descenders and watch what they do, I'll bet they are not really leaning the bike over hard to get through a turn fast.
I think you are doing the right thing..eddie m
Jul 17, 2002 6:55 PM
You need to desensitize yourself to speed. Some of the best descenders I know also ride motorcycles. Also, find a coach who can show you the fastest line and some bike handling skills. There's more to it than just leaning in.
yup...don't rush itColnagoFE
Jul 18, 2002 6:20 AM
unless you are getting paid big $ to race you have little incentive to do anything that will endanger your life. start slow and work your way up, but dont ever feel you HAVE to go all out. listen to your fear. no need to get injured or killed. as you do more descents--especially twisty ones--you'll just naturally start getting more confident and go faster. at some point you can go too fast and wash out, but with tires in good condition that point is usually way beyond what most rider ever approach.
Descending advice (shortish)Mr Good
Jul 17, 2002 8:43 PM
Head up!
Look where you want to go (not at the ground in front of wheel)!
Brake BEFORE turn, not during!
Weight on outside pedal! STAND on outside pedal!
commit to turn!

practice, practice, practice.
Some excellent cornering discussions....AllisonHayes
Jul 18, 2002 4:28 AM
"Cornering advice" Posted by: RSB Mar-14-02, 10:01 PM
RSB "Cornering advice" 3/17/02 5:57am

"Negotiating turns" Posted by: Brian T May-06-02, 02:57 PM
Brian T "Negotiating turns" 5/7/02 8:59pm

"Accelerating through a turn" Posted by: GMS Jun-01-02, 06:41 PM
GMS "Accelerating through a turn" 6/3/02 11:44am

"Riding in a Downpour" Posted by: jagiger Jun-24-02, 12:22 PM
jagiger "Riding in a Downpour" 6/25/02 12:08am

"Be careful on those twisty descents" Posted by: RideLots Apr-15-02, 08:44 AM

RideLots "Be careful on those twisty descents" 4/16/02 2:22pm

"don't go faster than you feel is safe" RideLots 4/3/02 09:36 AM
RideLots "SPEED, IS GOING OVER 40MPH FAST OR AM I A WUS" 4/3/02 9:36am

"nightmare bend, how to tackle it??" Posted by: mike r Mar-20-02, 05:38 PM
mike r "nightmare bend, how to tackle it??" 3/21/02 8:47am

Happy trails to you,

Here's a thought...Gregory Taylor
Jul 18, 2002 5:22 AM
Maybe you should schedule a short trip out to Sperryville Virginia, and do repeat sessions down Thorofare Gap (RT 211). I'd go with a buddy/girlfriend/wife who would shuttle you up the mountian so you could do it a bunch of times. Fast, long, and relatively close to the DC area. You can hit 50 mph without really trying. The best part is that, once you are done, you can get lunch/dinner at a killer restaurant in Flint Hill (off of Rt. 522) called "Four & Twenty Blackbirds". Trust me, it's worth the trip out there all by itself...
thanks... did that oneDuane Gran
Jul 18, 2002 8:24 AM
Thanks for the advice, Greg. I actually have done that descent and it made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. The only one that was harder is route 644 at Wintergreen mountain resort (in the Charlottesville area). That bugger is a 15% gradient for several miles and I doubt if I could ever go down it without using the brakes.
Wintergreen is SCARYGregory Taylor
Jul 18, 2002 9:14 AM
I've driven that one in the car. That would be scary on a bike.

Another technical descent is coming off of Kennedy Peak, again near Luray VA. This one takes you out of the Page Valley and into Fort Valley. The climb out of Page County was difficult (the last stretch was horrific) and the descent into the Fort Valley was very challenging. Tight switchbacks with no real run-off. Lose it and you are in the trees.

Closer to home, there are a couple of places near Lorton/Gunston where you can easily hit 40+ with ease. Nice clear straight shots downhill. I'm thinking of:

Telegraph Road (near Hayfield -- heading north from Belvoir)

Hampton Road (off of Ox Road, near Lorton and Fountainhead Regional Park)