What makes a good descender?

Discussion in 'Sportives' started by Yellow Fang, 27 Apr 2008.

  1. Yellow Fang

    Yellow Fang Guru

    I ask because I seem to be rubbish at it. Even when I'm peddling hard I can't keep up. Sometimes I'm pedalling and someone goes past who isn't pedalling. Bending down low doesn't seem to help much. I can't see that I'm more upright than the others anyway. Is it my hubs? Is it my broad shoulders?
  2. 1) flat tyres

    2) old bike

    3) your brakes are on

    4) your coat is in the wheels

    5) you need to train harder?

    6) every one else is rushing home to log onto cycle chat:biggrin:

    7) all of the above
  3. ASC1951

    ASC1951 Guru

    Do you weigh enough?

    I regularly go rocketing past racing snakes without turning a pedal. It's generally different racing snakes to the ones I set off with, because my lot are already over the next climb by then.
  4. Fab Foodie

    Fab Foodie hanging-on in quiet desperation ...

    Things that make you descend faster are....

    Aerodynamics, man and bike.
    Weight, more weight faster descent.
    Low rolling resistance tyres.
    Free-running hubs.

    Riding with my regular palls I tend to be the fastest rolling down a hill, probably because I am the heaviest and have the lowest rolling resistance tyres on the best aero wheels. The difference is significant.
  5. OP
    Yellow Fang

    Yellow Fang Guru

    I'm 11 stone, so not the lightest. I tend to pump my tyres up to 100psi. I don't think my hubs are that bad. It's a mystery.
  6. Fab Foodie

    Fab Foodie hanging-on in quiet desperation ...

    I'm 13 stone and quite compact (I must have an "aero-belly"). If you're a broad/rangey skinny11 stone that may be the reason!
    Otherwise, wheels and tyres I reckon.
  7. walker

    walker New Member

    Bromley, Kent
    grow bigger balls.
    Normally the people that don't decend fast enough are the ones who are scared to just hurl themselves down a hill. stop touching the breaks and go for it.

    We had a lad come out a couple of times and on every decent we had to wait for him as he was so slow and just wouldn't leave the brakes alone
  8. OP
    Yellow Fang

    Yellow Fang Guru

    Even if I don't touch the brakes I can't keep up. On Saturday we were going down a long hill. I was doing 39mph according to my computer but I was still losing ground.
  9. Sh4rkyBloke

    Sh4rkyBloke Jaffa Cake monster

    Manchester, UK
    These are excellent
  10. fossyant

    fossyant Ride It Like You Stole It!

    South Manchester
    Much of it is about 'brain out and in back pocket' - certainly for technical descents. - Just peddal harder and tuck in on long straight hills !!

    I spent a couple of weeks in Lanzarotte with a club mate some years back - I was about 12stone, him about 13.5 stone and 6 ft - I couldn't keep up with him on bumpy poor surfaced roads at all - I had a better bike as well. - I was just bouncing all over the place, although I was OK on the smooth stuff. - Coming down Fire Mountain in excess of 50 mph, overtaking cars was quite hairy, especially when there is no run off - on either side of the road were jagged lava fields !!!
  11. OP
    Yellow Fang

    Yellow Fang Guru

    You're braver than I am. If the rest of the chain-gang were doing that then I'd leave them to it. I won't go into a corner at full speed not knowing how tight it is or what is coming the other way.
  12. gavintc

    gavintc Guru

    I descend fast and have a bit of reputation for my fearless downhill cornering. IMO, weight is a vital factor. Equally, flapping clothing, poor hubs all affect the speed. 11st is not terribly light. You should concentrate on your body position, arms tucked in, body low, wear tighter clothes.
  13. Chris James

    Chris James Über Member

    I wouldn't say I am a particularly good descender although a few rides ago a bloke said that he had to pedal like f*ck just to keep up with me (I was freewheeling and I weigh 12 stone).

    I think a good aero tuck and relaxing and trying to be fluid in your movements counts for a lot. I also knew that hill well so knew I could go for it almost all the way down.

    On other descents the fear has set in for me and I have ended up braking all the way down a hill.
  14. ColinJ

    ColinJ A big clot!

    It isn't a mystery, unless the people you can't keep up with all weigh less than 11 stone!

    Last week, I mentioned elsewhere on the forum a ride I did with a married couple that I know. On the way home we began a long descent into a headwind. 7.5 stone wife at the front was pedalling like crazy but getting nowhere fast, so her 13 stone husband overtook her, pedalling steadily. I currently weigh 15 stone, I wasn't pedalling - I just got my chin down on the bars and I shot past the pair of them! I got to the bottom of the hill long before my mate, and his wife took about another minute and was knackered by the time she got there. Extra weight slows you down going uphill and speeds you up going down.

    I had a laugh in Spain once. I was slogging my way up a long switch-backed climb and I looked down a few bends and saw a fit-looking cyclist racing up towards me. It turned out to be a young woman - very petite, and very fit. She slowed briefly as she passed me, smiled and said "Keep going it's only about 800 metres to the top!" then she shot off and left me for dead. I looked up the hill and saw her go over the top and begin her descent. A couple of minutes later I got up there and set off in pursuit. I went past her at 70 kph just before the bottom of the hill and then meandered along the flatter road at the bottom to give her a chance to catch up. When she came alongside me she was red-faced from her exertions. She told me that she'd been spinning out in her 53/13 and asked how I'd managed to catch her. She didn't believe me when I told her that I'd hardly had to pedal... :sad:
  15. Fab Foodie

    Fab Foodie hanging-on in quiet desperation ...

    I think descending is a skill that like any others comes with practice.
    Tomorrow I'll be riding our "Hilly" club night circuit, there is a shortish steep and windy downhill section where early last year I'd be on the brakes and everybody would fly by me. Each successive lap I let the bike roll a bit freer and relaxed and was soon carving a nice 42 mph with a grin on my face and staying in contention.
    Later in the season I went to French/Spanish borer on the Med' and climbed some of the big lumps there. The first few descents scared me witless. I found a nice twisty stretch to practice every other day until my confidence in myself, the bike, the brakes and the tyres improved. At the end of the week I descended Ventoux at an average 40 mph topping 49 on the straights. The corners were a blast, arse back, pick a line, handfuls of brakes, get low, lean in and hope!
    Without the constant practice I would not have had the balls confidence to be so relaxed, to brake soooo hard and to lean the bike so far... and to have smiled so much!
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