|Techniques||Guidelines for Downhill Techniques|
|Ready Positions:||– Before attempting a major descent, lower your saddle 2 to 4 inches from your bike’s normal cross-country height.|
– Move further back in the saddle and be prepared to go way, way back if the angle of the descent requires it.
– Don’t forget to level your pedals when you aren’t pedaling during the descent.
|Steering:||– Rotate your hands forward a quarter of an inch to get better control of the front wheel and your brake levers but keep your wrists and forearms aligned in a higher position.|
– Steer as much as possible with hips rather than handlebar.
|Braking:||– Anticipate your descent and brake “before” you find yourself in trouble.|
– Shift your weight further back when you increase the force on the front brake.
– Don’t use your front brake when hitting obstacles on your descent.
– If the front wheel skids when braking, release the front brake lever until the wheel rolls freely and steer into the skid.
– If you are not braking, you should probably be pedaling.
|Shifting:||– Shift up before a descent.|
– Be sure to shift to a gear which keeps your chain tight during the descent.
|Turning:||– On a descent steer into turns with your hips. With so much of your weight way back, your front wheel will be very light and will skip on a turn.|
|Roll Over:||– Grip the handlebar firmly as you impact obstacles and counter-steer against the front wheel’s reaction to the impact.|
– At greater downhill speeds, rolling over small obstacles can provide mini-jumps which give you a little air time. Great for fun, not so great for the clock during a competition.
|Wheelie:||– At speed, during a descent, you have a tremendous amount of momentum. Because of this, don’t try to put a lot of power into pulling your wheelies. If you do, you may find yourself flipping over backward.|
Obstacles on Downhills
|Obstacles||Guidelines for Clearing Obstacles|
|Ruts:||– A deep vertical rut in a downhill trail may just be the best definition for the perfect “bike trap” — a recipe for certain disaster.|
– If you do fall into a rut during a fast descent (and your technique is anything less than professional) brake fast and leave the rut as gracefully as possible.
|Rocks:||– Be aggressive — if you don’t have the confidence necessary to attack a rocky descent — walk it instead.|
– Keep your pedals level while in the rocks.
– Try to steer with your body rather than your handlebar.
– Use a heavy gear to keep you out of the saddle and on the attack.
|Branches & Roots:||– If you decide to jump a root or branch, try to clean it with both wheels. Landing on top of a root (particularly when wet) during descent is not a recommended maneuver.|
|Sand & Gravel:||– Keep your steering straight and your weight back.|
– At speed, try and float your front tire over the sand.
– Sand or gravel during a “fast descent” should be avoided if at all possible (observe and note sand and gravel during your pre-run walk-through).
|Mud:||– Select the best line and brake “before” entering the mud.|
– Avoid braking after entering the mud.
– Keep body “very” relaxed
– Stay out of the saddle so the bike can find its own way down.
|Water:||– Hitting “heavy” rain run-off at speed during a fast descent is tantamount to suicide. Brake “before” you enter the water and walk your bike past the run-off as best you can.|
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