We know some of us are natural descenders and love the thrill of sweeping down the mountains and for some us we have huge fears of getting down safely. Through our cycling camps we have experienced many women's attitude towards descending.
What stops us from being proficient descenders? The main culprit is our brakes!
What makes us brake is often fear of not knowing what is coming around the corner, not having trust in the road surface, fear of going fast, not being able to take the corners correctly or just general anxiety that we find comfort in reaching and hanging onto the brakes. Some of us even feel comfort in clipping out of the pedals as we go around the bends.
We do need to brake on the descents. If we did not brake we could end up over a cliff or not respecting other road users. But what the most experienced descenders will do is follow a process where they can position themselves safety on the road to see as far as possible, follow the most effective lines and to glide down the hill and brake gently at the most appropriate times. Building confidence in having the ability to look for hazards and learning to take control of cornering will make us better at descending.
At our cycling camps we teach the following protocol.
Safety is always of upmost importance. So we want to feel confident and observe for any potential hazards. For a right hard turn you come out towards the left (or stay on the left if you ride on the left). Look out for oncoming cars, road surfaces and other cyclists. Look as far as you can see.
Line up where you need to go, you always want to head towards the apex, so you can take a less aggressive angle turning. Brake gently and lean in to turn. We always want to be looking into the direction we want to go and seeing as far as possible to make sure it is clear for us to come out the bend. It's a process in building the confidence to release the brakes more, but always feather the brakes rather than holding them tight.
We want to change the direction of the bike through the process of leaning. It's advisable to practice drills of this on the flat. If turning to the right we could want to lift up the right pedal, and tilt the bike to the right. this should make the bike go in the direction of the right. What happens when we brake is it forces the bike to come upright and again go in a straight direction, forcing us to have to slow down even further.
It's always important to remember that safety comes first when descending. Even the worlds best pros are continually trying to improve on their descending techniques. So understand that it is a gradual process, you will have some good days and maybe some days when you are tired and lack in confidence. But get out of the bad habits and keep following the process.
Many women attending our camps go home more confident descenders. During the camp we have a bike handling coached session along with the support of our coaches as you take on the descents.
To find out more about our camps Book a Free Discovery Call