Some people love descending, so people fear it more than the climb itself. From someone that comes from having a fear of descents and heights, my advice would be that it comes down to 50% technique and 50% confidence to get used to the feeling of the bike running away from us.
Get used to riding on the drops
You will have more control over the bike on the drops. You will have more control of your centre of balance. You can get used to riding on the drops when riding on the flat, to build up your confidence.
Ensure your hands can reach the Brakes
Make sure that you are able to reach the brakes whilst on the drops and you can use them gently without any jerking. You may want to visit your bike mechanic or bike fitter to make any adjustments.
Feather the brakes
Don’t grip the brakes, learn to feather them. It can be tempting to firmly drag the brakes, but avoid doing this. You can practice feathering the brakes while riding the drops on the flat.
Look at the road ahead and stay alert so you can see any corners or hazards on the road. Especially when taking a corner check to see if there are any oncoming cars or cyclists. Look to the path that you want to follow on the road.
Brake Before the Corner
Some very advanced cyclists will be able to descend with very little braking. But, for us you will expect to have to brake to allow you to take the corners safely. Brake before you take the corner so you can corner safely and also that you don’t need to jerk the brakes for a gentle change in speed.
Learn to Turn by Leaning
This is also something that you can practice on the flat, whilst in the drops on the flat. You will need to lean to effectively take the corners on the road. To turn right, push down with your right hand and push your left foot down.
Stay as wide as you can on the corners
This will allow you to take the longer route but more efficient to descending as you will not need to turn so sharply, but always check that the road is clear.
Be cautious of the weather
Remind yourself that descending in the wind and the rain will make the process a lot more difficult. Also, be aware of the days after bad weather and that there maybe debris on the roads. So, if you are still building confidence perhaps avoid the hills on these days. Certainly avoid any hills if there is any chance of icy conditions.
Follow a pro
If you have a fellow rider who is experienced at descending, follow their line as they descend. Also, follow their pedal positioning. However, be mindful of your own safety and potential hazards at all times.
Tell me in the comments, are you a confident or nervous descender?
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