Descending for Beginners

Going downhill is one of the hardest things for new cyclists to get used to. Why? The reason is simple: Speed scares people.  Some pros don't descend correctly, because they're either nervous or don't practice it enough. Personally, I live for carving turns on a descent.
To start, familiarize yourself with the condition of the road surface by riding up the hill. Look for loose gravel / pot holes / cracks in the road or anything else that could cause your bike to become unsteady.  Also be mindful of weather conditions / rain / dew etc.
Consider the turns.  Do they follow a continuous arc, or do they become sharper during the middle of the turn? Are there sections that suddenly become steeper? As you become more experienced you will be able to review all these things at speed. When you're ready to head down, follow these simple rules:


Ride on the drops

With your hands on the lower part of the handlebar, your centre of gravity is closer to the ground.  Also, your weight will be more evenly distributed between the front and rear wheels, which helps maintain traction, especially during braking and turning.

Riding on the drops, superman cycling descent

Look ahead

Look for danger signs so you have time to react. In turns, keep your eyes on the exit, which will help you carve a smooth, steady line all the way through.

Stay chilled

Start at the top of your body and let go of tension. Keep breathing, open your mouth to unclench your jaw, drop your shoulders, bend your elbows, release your death grip on the bar, uncurl your toes and let your feet lie flat on the bottoms of your shoes.

Slow slowly

Always anticipate what you'll need to do next. This will help you avoid sudden braking. For controlled slowing, gently squeeze both levers equally with two- to three-second pulses. Avoid constantly riding the brakes as this can cause heat build up.  Not what you want when screaming down a hill.

Corner smart

The biggest mistake people make descending: They wait until they're in the middle of a turn to brake. Instead, reduce speed before the turn. If you have to brake in the turn, you didn't slow enough to begin with. Then, push your outside pedal down (right turn, left foot down) with pressure on that foot. To initiate the turn, lean the bike--not your body--into the turn (right turn, lean bike right). The faster and sharper the turn, the more you'll lean the bike. This action is similar to downhill skiing: The lower body angulates into the turn while the upper body remains upright. To exit the turn, gently straighten the bike.

Cycling Cornering at its best


Stay calmed and don't rush.  Know what your getting into before you head down.  Build your confidence and experience one hill at a time.  Then have fun and enjoy your rest on the way down, after a tough climb.