Before a holiday much emphasis is placed on having the required fitness levels to be able to climb mountains, preferably as fast as possible. Over the years we have found that much to peoples surprise, descending is actually the activity that presents the biggest challenge.
Not everyone takes to descending instantaneously. For some it happens naturally, but for a fairly high percentage of others there can be nervousness, or even fear of descending a mountain even at a relatively low speed. Often this can be as a result of a previous experience, perhaps there has been a crash when younger, or stories about what has happened to others has added to levels of nervousness, as a result you’ve ended up with a mental block that is reducing your enjoyment. You’ve worked hard to get to the top of every climb so you deserve to enjoy the descent.
There is good news. In nearly every case I have come across descending with 100’s of cyclists over the past decade there is always a reason why descending is not enjoyable, once this is discovered there is normally a solution to making the descent as enjoyable as other parts of the ride. As you will soon discover descending is actually made up of several key techniques and having a good understanding of each will usually lead to a significant improvement in your descending ability, which in turn will mean you have more fun and become a better all round cyclist.
Becoming more knowledgeable about each technique will give you things to think about and work on whilst out on rides. Each may seem quite basic and common sense however if things are amiss in one or more of the following areas it can contribute significantly to a loss of confidence and generate that feeling of “I’m not a descender”.
Before we go further we need first to talk about your position on the bike whilst descending.
Having a good position on the bike is essential to allow you to improve and be confident when descending. If you find yourself not maintaining the position described I can’t recommend strongly enough finding the time to practice this position because it really is the platform for everything that follows.
Take a look at the image below. What do you see?