The Art of Descending

scandiman

Warming-Up
Aug 12, 2010
96
0
0
Ota-ku
#1
Right so I went gently down on the softest of tarmacs during a descent on Alan's ride yesterday. I was lucky, learnt a lot from the happening, and got some great advice and an article from Alan (pasted below).

Many of you guys have years of experience with cornering but some - like me - dont. So figured this could be a good read for others also.

I know there is plenty of additional knowledge out there -- do share! By the end of the day its of course all about putting it into practice for the safety of all riders including yourself but a few words on the way never hurt.

Frode


On Mon, Apr 9, 2012 at 4:43 PM, Alan wrote:
Hi Frode,
No problem; glad you could join us! You're already strong enough to hang with the group and with a bit more time in the hills I think you'll get faster still.
Hope you're recovering from your crash....I had a grandstand view as you went down. If I can offer you a bit of advice - it looked like you were entering the corners with too much speed and were still on the brakes pretty hard through and after the apex of the turn, and you just ran out of grip. Try a little slower entry speed and smoothly release the brakes once you see the exit of the corner - this stabilises the bike and allows you to use more of the tyre's grip for cornering. You can go just as quickly overall because the exit speed is higher.
Good info on this page
http://www.flammerouge.je/content/3_factsheets/2006/descend.htm
 

Malte

Maximum Pace
Sep 26, 2011
496
54
48
Tokyo
#2
Right so I went gently down on the softest of tarmacs during a descent on Alan's ride yesterday. I was lucky, learnt a lot from the happening, and got some great advice and an article from Alan (pasted below).

Many of you guys have years of experience with cornering but some - like me - dont. So figured this could be a good read for others also.

I know there is plenty of additional knowledge out there -- do share! By the end of the day its of course all about putting it into practice for the safety of all riders including yourself but a few words on the way never hurt.

Frode


On Mon, Apr 9, 2012 at 4:43 PM, Alan wrote:
Hi Frode,
No problem; glad you could join us! You're already strong enough to hang with the group and with a bit more time in the hills I think you'll get faster still.
Hope you're recovering from your crash....I had a grandstand view as you went down. If I can offer you a bit of advice - it looked like you were entering the corners with too much speed and were still on the brakes pretty hard through and after the apex of the turn, and you just ran out of grip. Try a little slower entry speed and smoothly release the brakes once you see the exit of the corner - this stabilises the bike and allows you to use more of the tyre's grip for cornering. You can go just as quickly overall because the exit speed is higher.
Good info on this page
http://www.flammerouge.je/content/3_factsheets/2006/descend.htm
I can second that advice: Hands from the brakes in the corner and move your weight back. I guess there is a lot to be learned from the motorbike guys here.
 

theDude

Maximum Pace
Oct 7, 2011
773
111
63
Tokyo
app.strava.com
#3
sorry to hear about the off, sounds like you made out relatively OK and not too badly....


I'd be curious to hear about what you think about your off, like what you did. Sounds like too much brakes. Or with too stiff on the bars, or grabbed too much out of panic, ?

I ask because I would like to get more 'bite' on my brakes. For normal riding, I think it would help a lot. fwiw i have 'kuota race' calipers, whatever that really is, looking at ultegra or similar. having tested a couple friend's bikes with ultegra, it's night and day.

However, I find descending scary as hell. Coming from motorcycles, I do things similarly, brake the hardest on the straight before leaning in, slowly come off the brakes nearing the apex, then off the brakes and go. But I do it very poorly. The front brake is on the other side of the handlebars from my motorcycles (i know i can change it, probably will soon), so just pull both on descents (too much to think about).

So.... while I think I would like less bite, I think lacking that bite is probably safer for some of the descents out here.....


anyway, great thread.... good read on the link above as well.

:bike:
 

scandiman

Warming-Up
Aug 12, 2010
96
0
0
Ota-ku
#4
Thanks man, yeah I am completely okay, actually.

Well, my speed was admittedly wee bit too high. Not a whole lot but a little bit.

My key mistake was definitely that I did not start to apply my brakes in time i.e before even entering the corner. Too much too late, basically.

Then I was running out of tarmac and what I had left had some gravel on it and the rest is history.

I am glad I am learning the not too hard way. Great wake up call.

take care

F






sorry to hear about the off, sounds like you made out relatively OK and not too badly....


I'd be curious to hear about what you think about your off, like what you did. Sounds like too much brakes. Or with too stiff on the bars, or grabbed too much out of panic, ?
 

TOM G

Speeding Up
Jun 13, 2011
102
3
38
Minato
#5
Thanks for sharing your experience - I'm glad it didn't turn out worse. I found the article to be quite helpful. I think I could be a lot faster on the descents if I had more confidence. The tips are helpful. Thanks.
 

GSAstuto

Maximum Pace
Oct 11, 2009
945
242
103
tokyo
www.roadfixie.com
#6
Some tips:

1) keep your weight firm on outside pedal.
2) never early apex. You can always turn more than you think, but if you've turned in too early, you won't be able to recorrect and probably high side or fly off the corner.
3) brake firmly and decisively before you beginthe turn in.
4) counter steer to setup your turn in. Cycle wheels are huge gyros, takes a lot of offset to get the contact patch rotated.
5) unlike motorcycle, keep your body level and let the bike frame tip beneath you. This keeps your weight over the wheels. You don't have an engine to counteract the force,so if you lean with the bike, you are putting too much dynamic weight on inside.
6) keep relaxed shoulders so you can both absorb the bumps and modulate your position. If you are locked, you will likely crash out.
7) head up and look through the corner, not at it.
 

Gunjira

Maximum Pace
Oct 2, 2009
1,003
176
83
Tokyo
#8
Have some fun doing it, you will now when you did a good job and it will feel great. Speed isn't decisive here, it's a better achievement to get the form just right than needlessly trying to go fast. If you feel pressure to go fast you wont have the comfort to concentrate on improving details.
The easiest things to watch out for are early breaking, late apex, everything else follows.
 

Aron B

Maximum Pace
Mar 24, 2012
342
211
73
Nerima-ku, Tokyo
abeekman.nl
#10
Try to practice with someone strong in descending in front of you. You can follow his line and do whatever he is doing. Moreover, he'll watch out for bumps and traffic so you can focus on technique.

And "2) never early apex. You can always turn more than you think" does NOT apply on wet roads!
 
Jun 9, 2011
241
1
36
tokyo
#14
here's a video of some guy riding his bike down a hill. he does a pretty OK job of not getting hit by the cars. i think he's doing everything that's been recommended so far except for maybe braking.

2 tips i can add: warnings for cars to reduce speeds before curves are also good for cyclists to heed; always check roadside mirrors for approaching cars around blind corners.
 

GSAstuto

Maximum Pace
Oct 11, 2009
945
242
103
tokyo
www.roadfixie.com
#15
Actually just the opposite. You can almost ALWAYS turn much more than you think. Most rain /slip crashes are because of excessive braking - NOT because of excessive turn radius. AND - most always associated with an early apex resulting in required over-correction, which I guarantee WILL break your traction 'line'.

The key to strong cornering in descending is to have a very clean line with use of NO BRAKES from about 15-30 degrees BEFORE the apex. So - you need to get all your braking done before then, set up on your line and weight in check. If you do slide out you'll be in much better position to control the slide (drift or layout).

I'm pretty sure the Superbike / BMX / MTB specialists here would have quite a bit to say on this topic.

And, as one, who has snapped their leg nearly cleanly in half by NOT following this basic rule, believe me, I pay very close attention to it now!

Try to practice with someone strong in descending in front of you. You can follow his line and do whatever he is doing. Moreover, he'll watch out for bumps and traffic so you can focus on technique.

And "2) never early apex. You can always turn more than you think" does NOT apply on wet roads!
 

StuInTokyo

Maximum Pace
Dec 3, 2010
1,662
62
78
#16
Most riders push the bike down in the corners, this actually limits your traction, you should be slightly hanging off the inside of the bike, not pushing the bike down in the corner.

Billy looses the front wheel because his line is not going to let him miss the curb, he tries to correct course to the inside, you can see him turn in more, which overloads the front wheel and it tucks in because he lost it!
 
Sep 2, 2009
5
0
0
#18
Descending in a straight line;

Just absolutely hammer it, down the middle of the road.

Descending with cornering;

Lay off the breaks, look the way you want to go (sounds stupid, but if you make a conscious move to do this, you don't really need to think about steering at all), get clever at braking.

Etc.
 

Yamabushi

Maximum Pace
Jun 1, 2010
2,335
188
1,083
Tokyo (Nezu)
fudoushin.com
#20
I'm still working on the list, but here are my initial recommendations:

General
  • Make sure your bike is safe and well maintained
  • Keep weight evenly distributed between both wheels
  • Pick your line carefully
  • Be aware of potential hazards like cars, pedestrians, animals, road debris, or other cyclists
  • Descend in the drops, don’t descend on the hoods, you’ll have a lower center of gravity, better aerodynamics, and more braking power and control
  • Stay relaxed and alert, use a firm but supple grip, and keep your arms bent, being tense will take away your sensitivity, reduce your reaction time and ability to absorb bumps and imperfections in the road surface
  • When crossing metal grates or other potentially slippery surfaces, try to go straight, no turning or leaning, if you are in a corner try to momentarily straighten up to cross slippery spots
  • Don’t use too much tire pressure, unless you are very heavy, you should not be using your tires maximum pressure, you'll have reduced traction and speed
  • When possible follow someone who is a better descender than you, following their line and trying to emulate their technique
  • Smooth equals fast, watch Nibali and/or Cancellara descend
  • Ride within your capability and the performance limits of your equipment

Braking
  • The front brake is where the vast majority of your braking power is
  • Try to do 95%-100% of your braking before entering the turn
  • Only brake hard when traveling in a straight line, not while turning
  • Brake smoothly and not abruptly, learn how to modulate your brakes
  • Be very aware of the varying condition of the road surface, trying not to brake on potentially slippery surfaces: wet, mossy, sandy, oily, icy, etc.
  • Don’t ride the brakes, it can cause overheating and reduced braking performance and can cause irreparable damage especially with carbon wheels
  • To help avoid overheating, sometimes use your rear brake when needing to slightly check your speed
  • When cornering only lightly feather your brakes for fine tuning your speed, any more is asking for trouble

Cornering
  • On two wheeled vehicles, at speed, all turning is counter-steering, when turning right, for example, lightly reach forward with your right, in other words push the right side of your bars forward
  • Inside pedal up, and outside pedal down
  • Put most of your weight on your outside pedal, with just 5-10% of your weight on the saddle
  • Generally keep the bike directly underneath you, if the bike is leaning, then you lean, don’t lean more or less than the bike
  • While being aware of what is right in front of you, look where you want to go, don’t look down or too close in front of you
  • Try to apex early, accelerating through and out of the corner
  • Stay within your lane unless you are absolutely sure that the other lane is clear and there isn’t any oncoming traffic
  • Approach blind corners cautiously as you may need to make an unexpected stop
  • When available use mirrors to see around blind corners
  • Be careful about getting too wide or tight in the turns, the extreme edges of the road tend to collect sand, moss and debris

At the end of the day it's about having fun, and being safe!