Although it can take steady climbing skills to reach the top, it can be even more important to have the descending know-how to go down.
Greetings from Boulder, Colo., where Senior Editor Jené Shaw is spending a week with 24 other campers and the Endurance Corner coaching team. Day 1 started with a ride up to Brainard Lake, situated at 10,000 feet above sea level. Although it took steady climbing skills to reach the top, it was even more important to have the descending know-how to go back down. Here are a few tips from Marilyn McDonald, an Endurance Corner coach with a background in both pro cycling and triathlon.
– If descending is something that scares you a little bit, McDonald says to remember that it’s a skill that can be learned. “Take your time with it, don’t let yourself get into a speed that’s over your head and just embrace it—you don’t have to accept, ‘Hey I don’t know how to descend.’”
– Look ahead, pick your line and stick with your line. Never cross the centerline.
– If you’re on a TT bike, the more you shift your weight back, the more stable you’re going to be.
– When turning during a descent, keep the inside pedal and knee up and outside pedal down. Put weight on your outside pedal for stability. Adds EC coach Chuckie Veylupek, “Think of it like downhill skiing. Watch a skier turn and one ski is a half a foot higher—that’s what your pedals are doing.”
– Choose the speed you want to take the corner in before you get there. Slow your bike down well before you hit the corner.
– To slow down, feather with front brake and control with the rear brake. “If you’re coming into a corner really fast and hit the corner and slam on your rear brake, that’s when you’ll feel that jittery and out of control feeling,” McDonald says. “If you’re looking ahead, picking your line, slowing the bike down by feathering the front brake, most times you can release the brake and lean into the turn.”