Author Topic: Getting better at descents  (Read 11021 times)

T42

  • Apprentice geezer
Re: Getting better at descents
« Reply #25 on: 13 July, 2022, 05:12:56 pm »
I was pretty haphazard on descents until someone told me (a) to put the outer pedal down on bends and press down on it and (b) to keep my eye on the line I wanted to follow and the bike would go there. This also works when negotiating staggered barriers on cycle paths: don't look at the barriers but the space you want to go through.
I've dusted off all those old bottles and set them up straight

Kim

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Re: Getting better at descents
« Reply #26 on: 13 July, 2022, 05:33:57 pm »
Also works on bees, but have you ever tried to not look at a bee?

ravenbait

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Re: Getting better at descents
« Reply #27 on: 13 July, 2022, 06:06:33 pm »
Here's the thing: I also ride motorcycles.

I am fine on a motorcycle.

It's something to do with how twitchy a bicycle is when it hits anything bigger than a matchstick (i.e there are a range of things big enough to throw me without being large enough to be obviously a problem from far enough away that I can avoid them easily), and how hard it is to modulate the brakes to balance stopping distance with not falling off.

Also, on a motorbike I am considerably better protected.

Sam
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"Created something? Hah! But that would be irresponsible! And unethical! I would never, ever make... more than one."

Pingu

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Re: Getting better at descents
« Reply #28 on: 13 July, 2022, 06:12:10 pm »
Wear leathers and a helmet and make loud Vrooooooom! noises?

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: Getting better at descents
« Reply #29 on: 13 July, 2022, 08:46:47 pm »
Do you push a knee or two against the top tube when you descend? The extra mass tends to damp down a bike’s twitchiness.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Re: Getting better at descents
« Reply #30 on: 14 July, 2022, 05:45:01 pm »
I've had a couple of bikes which got speed wobbles and it's scared the bejeezus out of me and made someone who used to be a perfectly adequate descender into a right wimp.

I'm fairly happy descending at frankly ridiculous speeds on the back of a tandem (although I have been known to close my eyes), but I don't think following another rider would make me more confident- it's not the route I'm afraid of, it's my incompetence.
A heavier bike helps. So do flat bars. I descend much faster on my MTB than I would on my road bike. Faster still on the e-bike, extra weight low down on the bike makes it more stable. I doubt you're as lardly as I am, but being lighter helps too- it lowers the COG even a little, and every little helps. Being heavy with a small frontal area means the acceleration on descents is impressive.
Do you push a knee or two against the top tube when you descend? The extra mass tends to damp down a bike’s twitchiness.
I have done this, but at the point where you need to do it, that's the point you're in panic mode and feeling nauseated where you may not be making rational decisions.

The only real answer is practise. I live in County Durham. I can get practised.

BFC

  • ACME Wheelwright and Bike Fettler
Re: Getting better at descents
« Reply #31 on: 14 July, 2022, 06:10:32 pm »
If the bike is not stable under a mix of normal riding, don't trust it at higher speeds! I have had bikes that the bars develop a vibration if riding single handed (whilst taking the bottle from the cages), until figuring the wheel alignment issues with the axle were putting the front end out of balance.

Always put weight through the steerer or seat when re fitting the wheels, and face the SP dynamo connector vertically upwards to avoid the flat interfacing with the fork surface.

All assumes the wheels are wheel shaped, correctly centred and the frame is aligned.

Re: Getting better at descents
« Reply #32 on: 15 July, 2022, 02:49:39 pm »
Suggest booking up with The Tom Pidcock descending masterclass

Re: Getting better at descents
« Reply #33 on: 19 July, 2022, 01:11:03 pm »
Note: I am not at all an expert on the following. I have made it work for me for something else (heights / exposure) but have not made it work for me for descending on a bicycle.

The idea is that you feed your brain with good images/thoughts. So you imagine cycling down the descent, and it feels good, and smooth, and comfortable. Just like it would feel on your motorbike. And you keep doing that visualisation, little and often, so that your brain gets tuned to feeling good about the situation rather than scared.

It is really odd, these days, if I get somewhere exposed. I still expect The Fear, and in fact my brain is just "Yes, well, whatever. Nice view." I'm never going to be going along the most exposed bits for fun, but I'm a lot better than I was.

(This comes from the way of thinking about your mind that is described in Steve Peters' book "The Chimp Paradox".)

FifeingEejit

  • Not Small
Re: Getting better at descents
« Reply #34 on: 19 July, 2022, 02:49:43 pm »
Suggest booking up with The Tom Pidcock descending masterclass

It appears this worked for me on Saturday as I smashed my previous best on the descent from Griffin to the Birks o' Aberfeldy by 7 seconds despite feeling like there was a strong headwind.

CrazyEnglishTriathlete

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Re: Getting better at descents
« Reply #35 on: 19 July, 2022, 09:14:44 pm »
IMHO the UK is not a great place to perfect descending - there is too much loose gravel, drain covers placed in the racing line, random potholes, parked cars, not to mention an increasing number of speed bumps and other traffic control measures that prevent free-flowing descents and properly getting a feel for how the bike descends at speed.

Ham's advice of taking it carefully makes a lot of sense.  The one trick I was taught was to keep the inside arm stiff on turns, this feels counter-intuitive but helps stability.
Eddington Numbers 131 (imperial), 185 (metric) 574 (furlongs)  116 (nautical miles)

ravenbait

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Re: Getting better at descents
« Reply #36 on: 01 August, 2022, 10:41:49 am »
UPDATE:

New Planet X Hurricane much less twitchy than the Pinarello. This helps.

As do the 700x30mm Mile Munchers on there.

As does not having a computer apart from my Garmin watch, so I don't know how fast I'm going at the time.

But steep slopes still give me the collywobbles, especially when they spit me out at a gravelly junction where tractors are coming at me from my blind spot.

Sam
https://ravenbait.com
"Created something? Hah! But that would be irresponsible! And unethical! I would never, ever make... more than one."

T42

  • Apprentice geezer
Re: Getting better at descents
« Reply #37 on: 01 August, 2022, 11:16:24 am »
Also works on bees, but have you ever tried to not look at a bee?

No problem as long as I don't think of hippos.
I've dusted off all those old bottles and set them up straight

FifeingEejit

  • Not Small
Re: Getting better at descents
« Reply #38 on: 01 August, 2022, 05:35:59 pm »
But steep slopes still give me the collywobbles, especially when they spit me out at a gravelly junction where tractors are coming at me from my blind spot.

yeah... not sure there's much you can do about that one

Re: Getting better at descents
« Reply #39 on: 27 August, 2022, 04:09:02 pm »
I was roaming round the web last night and chanced upon this thread, so I joined the forum!

Hello all!

A little history, I’ve been one-eyed since about 4yo, gradual development over 8-10 years. I’ve been on bikes since I was old enough to ride, and raced in my late teens. Growing up within easy reach of the Lake District, descending was part and parcel of club runs, and while I couldn’t keep up with one particular nutter (and he rode fixed all winter!) I could descend well. No-one ever took note of me obviously having one eye, either in the club or in the bunch. That’s an unfortunate experience you had there.

Fast forward, and now in my mid fifties. Had a break from riding for 8 years. Still riding the bike I got when I was 14, amongst others, but now I’m getting some serious wobbly shit when descending, particularly on bends! Most embarrassing. It’s not the bike, they all do it.

I do have a bit of the Fear, not from cycling accidents, but other experiences which made me value living.

I don’t think being one eyed has anything to do with it. We may not have great 3D perception, but the brain is an adaptable thing (but not to the extent that I can be trusted to miss the table when pouring a cup of tea!). I don’t do well with close up depth perception, but middle and long range works well enough. I has never been an issue riding or racing.

I think for me it was a mix of the Fear, and an increase of inflexibility over the years I was off the bike. I realised I was carefully looking where I was going, rather than looking way ahead with my head up a bit more. Too stiff to look up. Raising my stem a centimetre helped a wee bit, but looking way ahead helped more. So instead of looking just in front of the bike and getting caught by surprise, I looked way ahead and let the bike ride itself, trusting my body to do its balance thing. You never forget how to ride a bike, right?

 Relaxing helped but is difficult. Various factors here, it’s all interlinked. If you’re stiffer that what you used to be, your position will have changed. I found my position has changed radically, still haven’t worked out a new position! My next thing to try is to lower the saddle position a wee bit.

I don’t have the answer I’m afraid, but I really don’t think one eyed-ness is it. Anything that is contributing to you being stiff and inflexible on the bike is worth paying attention to. I remember I used to feel pretty much at one with the bike, no longer though! So, saddle sores, stiffness, hands, whatever. Strength and fitness probably helps too, so you’re riding the bike rather than sitting on it like a sack of tatties (speaking from experience).

Anyway, just my tuppence worth.

Kim

  • Timelord
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Re: Getting better at descents
« Reply #40 on: 27 August, 2022, 04:26:33 pm »
Welcome to the forum  :thumbsup:

Re: Getting better at descents
« Reply #41 on: 27 August, 2022, 04:38:14 pm »
Ta :thumbsup:

I forgot to say, 20+ yrs working in NHS mental health, latterly trained as a CBT practitioner, means I can say with some authority that EMDR, and CBT for trauma with memory reprocessing, work like magic with traumatic memories. I can give more details or advice if anyone is interested.

CrinklyLion

  • The one with devious, cake-pushing ways....
Re: Getting better at descents
« Reply #42 on: 27 August, 2022, 05:40:49 pm »
I'm not going to magically conjure a bunch of people who can nurse me down hills at speed.

Sam

Historically, organising a bike ride/camping trip in the beautiful bits up north does sometimes actually have this effect.... One of my FAVOURITE descending experiences ever was the time that some YACFers organised a camping trip to Arran so I travelled really quite a long way for 2 nights (it was going to be one, but my Friday boss agreed to a swap of what day I worked for the week!) of camping and some of the loveliest ups and downs ever, in the company of strange people off the internet who were all much much better at getting up the wrong sorts of arrow on the map than I was. It's a bugger when there's nobody local to ride with though :( Back when I actually rode m'bike, I actually got to be moderately competent for a fat bird at the lumpy stuff, mostly by going for bike rides, containing mild traces of Deano-flat, with that Deano.

ravenbait

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Re: Getting better at descents
« Reply #43 on: 29 August, 2022, 05:13:29 pm »
I was roaming round the web last night and chanced upon this thread, so I joined the forum!

Hello all!

A little history, I’ve been one-eyed since about 4yo, gradual development over 8-10 years. I’ve been on bikes since I was old enough to ride, and raced in my late teens. Growing up within easy reach of the Lake District, descending was part and parcel of club runs, and while I couldn’t keep up with one particular nutter (and he rode fixed all winter!) I could descend well. No-one ever took note of me obviously having one eye, either in the club or in the bunch. That’s an unfortunate experience you had there.

Fast forward, and now in my mid fifties. Had a break from riding for 8 years. Still riding the bike I got when I was 14, amongst others, but now I’m getting some serious wobbly shit when descending, particularly on bends! Most embarrassing. It’s not the bike, they all do it.

I do have a bit of the Fear, not from cycling accidents, but other experiences which made me value living.

I don’t think being one eyed has anything to do with it. We may not have great 3D perception, but the brain is an adaptable thing (but not to the extent that I can be trusted to miss the table when pouring a cup of tea!). I don’t do well with close up depth perception, but middle and long range works well enough. I has never been an issue riding or racing.

Welcome to the forum! I lost mine to traumatic injury at 15 months, therefore have zero experience of depth. I would hesitate to ascribe any individual experience as being the same for all people with similar issues, especially when they are not the same in every detail. I know one-eyed people who seriously struggle with things as simple as putting a mug on a table, whereas I have no problem doing this whatsoever (and can even manage the stabbing the rubber with a pencil trick) so am aware that different brains adapt in different ways. I have described my struggles -- when we are young and have greater capacity for adaptation, it's easier to learn. I had no such struggles on the ski slopes until that one big accident, but I also had more than my fair share of injuries directly attributable to lack of depth perception, so it was more of a bounce-backability than better adaptation. I didn't start cycling seriously until I was in my 20s, and didn't start racing until my 30s. If I'd been cycling with the same commitment I gave to ski-ing at the age I was competitively ski-ing, I suspect this thread would not exist.

Quote
I don’t have the answer I’m afraid, but I really don’t think one eyed-ness is it.

Monocular vision in and of itself probably isn't, but for me it's a significant contributing factor. I would probably have less of an issue on well maintained roads that were not liable to 6" deep potholes appearing overnight, but there we are.

"It's not a problem for me," is not the same as "this isn't a problem for anyone."

Nevertheless, thanks for your input, and I hope you'll stick around.

Sam
https://ravenbait.com
"Created something? Hah! But that would be irresponsible! And unethical! I would never, ever make... more than one."

CrazyEnglishTriathlete

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Re: Getting better at descents
« Reply #44 on: 31 August, 2022, 11:45:11 am »
I descended the Devil's Staircase (between Abergeswyn and Tregaron) for the first time on the Giant's Tooth 500 at the weekend.  (Having ascended it 7 or 8 times on Eleniths and Cambrian Permanents).  I can verify that it is just as terrifying going down as it is going up.  I think there is a gradient at which descending becomes a matter of survival rather than elan, the gradient at which that happens probably varies with the individual and perhaps one of the secrets is to work at the margins, around the point where it does start to become scary.
Eddington Numbers 131 (imperial), 185 (metric) 574 (furlongs)  116 (nautical miles)

ravenbait

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Re: Getting better at descents
« Reply #45 on: 06 September, 2022, 11:17:02 am »
I descended the Devil's Staircase (between Abergeswyn and Tregaron) for the first time on the Giant's Tooth 500 at the weekend.  (Having ascended it 7 or 8 times on Eleniths and Cambrian Permanents).  I can verify that it is just as terrifying going down as it is going up.  I think there is a gradient at which descending becomes a matter of survival rather than elan, the gradient at which that happens probably varies with the individual and perhaps one of the secrets is to work at the margins, around the point where it does start to become scary.

For me, this point is 12%, and it's any distance at 12%. It doesn't have to be far.

I live not far from Cairn O' Mount, which has sections at 14% (and possibly steeper for very short bits). We went up to walk the dog at Glen Dye last week, and had to go over it in the car. On the way up, I told my other half "I just need to put my big pants on and do this, it's probably mental. Hamish is much better at going up hills." On the way down the other side, I was "Nope. It's not happening." Even thinking about it gave me the shivers.

Sam
https://ravenbait.com
"Created something? Hah! But that would be irresponsible! And unethical! I would never, ever make... more than one."

Re: Getting better at descents
« Reply #46 on: 19 October, 2022, 11:13:45 am »
Just come back to this thread having read it in the early days.  I don't have any solutions or even ideas to offer, just a bit of empathy.

I've got worse at descending in the last few years and, nowadays, I tend to dread big descents that I know are coming up, and have nightmares about them when I'm off the bike. 

Until about 5 years ago I was an ok descender - never very fast but mid-group.  I worked on it on a trip to Gran Canaria, and learned better road positioning and bike handling skills (nothing special, the basics that most decent descenders do without thought). 

I put my decreasing appetite for descending down to a combination of age, becoming a parent making me more risk averse, lack of practice living in London - far from proper mountains, and some neck and latterly hand problems which cause discomfort and pain on longer descents which might make me less relaxed.

I'll keep following in case there are some more good suggestions!

Re: Getting better at descents
« Reply #47 on: 19 October, 2022, 11:17:17 am »
I think there is a gradient at which descending becomes a matter of survival rather than elan, the gradient at which that happens probably varies with the individual and perhaps one of the secrets is to work at the margins, around the point where it does start to become scary.

I certainly reached that on Hardknott Pass a couple of years ago.  There was a point at which I thought I can't stop without going over the bars.  I walked a couple of steep sections to avoid that.  I don't think I would be up for doing Hardknott again, and might not fancy the Devils Staircase (which I have descended a couple of times with no issues 5-10 years ago) either.

Re: Getting better at descents
« Reply #48 on: 19 October, 2022, 01:39:14 pm »

I put my decreasing appetite for descending down to a combination of age, .....

I am not a doctor, but I think the sense of balance you get from your internal ear tends to get worse with age. I used to be a good descender, but in recent years, I found myself reaching for the brakes sooner than I used to, after feeling a bit disoriented in  twisting descents.

A

T42

  • Apprentice geezer
Re: Getting better at descents
« Reply #49 on: 19 October, 2022, 02:04:55 pm »

I put my decreasing appetite for descending down to a combination of age, .....

I am not a doctor, but I think the sense of balance you get from your internal ear tends to get worse with age. I used to be a good descender, but in recent years, I found myself reaching for the brakes sooner than I used to, after feeling a bit disoriented in  twisting descents.

A

You're not alone in that.  I don't get disoriented but I don't like laying the bike over as much as I used to.  I also really need good lights after dark so that I have a visual reference for staying upright: I can't rely on a bobby-dodger and my inner ear any more.
I've dusted off all those old bottles and set them up straight