Northwest Race Report – How to Descend like a Pro


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Show Notes:

Want to learn how to descend properly on your road or triathlon bike?  Want to be able to take corners at speed and in control?  This podcast with show notes will be a good knowledge base.  Of course there is not substitute for going out and practicing your descending skills by yourself or with a training partner.


Descending 101


  • In general keep pedaling while traveling in a straight line until you are totally geared out.  I often see riders stop pedaling for no reason.


  • Brake before the turn.  It is detrimental to your handling to brake during the turn.
    Outside to Inside.  Cut the tangents on each corner.  Make the corner less severe of an angle.  If road imperfections exist which means you cannot go from outside to inside, then stay on the best surface through the turn.


  • Keep the Outside Pedal down. This gives you stability and decreases the possibility that you will dig a pedal (come in contact with the ground).  There is the possibility to pedal through a corner, though this is more likely to be an option on flat ground (such as in a criterium).


  • Hit the apex late rather than too soon.  You’ll be less likely to miss the corner if you come in late.  In addition, you can also see the exit of the corner a lot better when hitting the apex late, and can anticipate just how hard you will have to corner throughout the rest of the turn in order to negotiate it safely.


Descending 201


  • Countersteering.  Lean the bike over more than your body by applying a little extra pressure on the inside handlebar.  This seems to inspire confidence and provides more control, as if the G forces are less when you countersteer.


  • Wet vs. Dry handling.  Traction will be impaired greatly in wet conditions.  The worst is when it has rained for the first time after a long dry period, as there is still much oil on the road surface.


  • Tri bikes don’t handle like road bikes.  The fact that less weight is on the rear tire is accentuated during descending.  Try pushing your butt slightly over the back of the saddle to mitigate this issue.


  • Pick an upward sloping bar setup.  Flat topped cowhorns and aerobars don’t inspire confidence as your hand can easily slip off the bar if you hit an unexpected bump.  Look for a cowhorn bar with an upward slope on the end, as well as a “J-Bend” aerobar.  It’s also nice if there is some vertical drop between the level of the aerobar and the level of the cowhorn. In general if the cowhorn is at the same level as the aerobar then your upper body will be too upright for time trialing.


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