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  1. #1
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    Downhill Speed Anybody got any tips?

    I'm in pretty decent shape, and I can climb pretty well, but then I get my butt handed to me on the downhill. How do you descend faster? What should I be practicing? Also, it seems like hauling downhill almost takes MORE strength than going up, on technical terrain anyway. What's the deal with that?

    Thanks in advance!
    Me gusta la bicicleta!

  2. #2
    Aut Vincere Aut Mori Snuffleupagus's Avatar
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    Stay loose, go fast

    Just relax, keep a loose but firm grip on your bars, one or two fingers on your brakes, keep your butt off the seat, shifting your weight back and forth as needed. When you go faster the ride really does tend to smooth out some.

  3. #3
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    This is gonna sound lame...

    but get off the brakes, build confidence and stop picking perfect lines ...

    The last one is key to be honest (they all are but xc guys sometimes pick to clean a line to go fast) if you pick a xc line going down you will likely be going much slower than a dhiller who picked his line at mach 1. Dhillers pick a balance. The fastest line they know they can handle while going from a to b the fastest. That isn't always the nicest line to ride.

    Confidence to hit those lines that might be a little harry and confidence to know you can rail a 90 degree corner with no brakes.

    If you can build those three up, you will get MUCH faster dh. Then you can worry about pedalling while going downhill and getting even more speed.

    as for strength, dh is like sprinting vs jogging. Both are running but use VERY different muscle types. I am a sprinter, I can't jog to save my life. On downhill I pick my lines, pedal when I can and brake as little as my brain will let me.

  4. #4
    THIS BIKE'S 4 U !!!! Killer B's Avatar
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    FLUID....
    Last edited by Killer B; 06-13-05 at 05:33 PM.

  5. #5
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    FLOW....

  6. #6
    THIS BIKE'S 4 U !!!! Killer B's Avatar
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    Copy Cat.... Almost

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maelstrom
    This is gonna sound lame...
    I don't think that sounds lame. That's actually pretty solid advice. I *was* worrying about the perfect line. Guess that's cuz I'm a jogger, not a sprinter. I gotta get out of this xc mindset...
    Me gusta la bicicleta!

  8. #8
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    Its the best way to explain. I ride with a lot of different riders. Dhillers pick lines, but xc guys pick PERFECT lines. Perfect doesn't always equal the fastest Good luck, dh is fun and flowy once you start getting the flow of it. Lots of rythm to it, like a slalom skier

    Copy Cat.... Almost
    I saw "fluid" in the other thread and just found it funny. You use that word but out here, "its all about the flow man...." hahaa

  9. #9
    one less horse cryptid01's Avatar
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    If you can get to a high level dh race as a spectator, you will leave with both understanding and confidence.

  10. #10
    Gravity Is Yer Friend dirtbikedude's Avatar
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    Some other considerations, what bike are you using?
    Do you lower the seat before descendeing?
    Do you hold your breath when going through technical sections (this will cause you to get very tired, very quickly and most riders are not aware they are holding their breath)?
    Is your center of gravity to high? You should not be in an upwright position. Your butt should be back and down, elbows bent outwards(not down) and your chest/shoulders should be low.

    Eyes. Eyes should always be looking ahead and NOT at the ground a few feet in front of you. The faster you go, the farther you look.

    If you have to use the brakes, do it before a turn and not while turning.


  11. #11
    THIS BIKE'S 4 U !!!! Killer B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtbikedude
    Do you hold your breath when going through technical sections (this will cause you to get very tired, very quickly and most riders are not aware they are holding their breath)?
    I once figured out I held my breath for my entire 1 hr. ride. There were numerous descents all through-out....

  12. #12
    Senior Member Drunken Chicken's Avatar
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    I always drop my saddle right down, I feel I have much more control over the bike. Once I tried a descent with the saddle all the way up and I stopped after the first 10 seconds, felt too crappy.
    Use your arms and legs to soak up bumps, stay loose but grip the handlebars firmly.
    2005 Ironhorse 7.3
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtbikedude
    Some other considerations, what bike are you using?
    Do you lower the seat before descendeing?
    Do you hold your breath when going through technical sections (this will cause you to get very tired, very quickly and most riders are not aware they are holding their breath)?
    Is your center of gravity to high? You should not be in an upwright position. Your butt should be back and down, elbows bent outwards(not down) and your chest/shoulders should be low.

    Eyes. Eyes should always be looking ahead and NOT at the ground a few feet in front of you. The faster you go, the farther you look.

    If you have to use the brakes, do it before a turn and not while turning.

    I'm using a Santa Cruz Blur. Kick ass bike, I love it. It's got a low center of gravity.
    Sometimes I lower my seat for descending, but in my area, terrain is rolling, so I rarely get a long enough section of downhill to slam my saddle down.
    I don't hold my breath... should I? I do sometimes stick my tongue out in concentration. (I know, bad idea.)
    Not sure about me being back and down far enough... I think I am, but how do I know for sure?

    Eyes... I definitely need to work on this one. I catch myself looking right in front of my stupid wheel all the freakin' time!!
    Me gusta la bicicleta!

  14. #14
    I'm still young, ok? Trasselkalle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maelstrom
    Its the best way to explain. I ride with a lot of different riders. Dhillers pick lines, but xc guys pick PERFECT lines. Perfect doesn't always equal the fastest Good luck, dh is fun and flowy once you start getting the flow of it. Lots of rythm to it, like a slalom skier
    Oh the comparison is great, especially when you're skiing moguls. After a while you're going so fast that you know that if you don't just keep going you're going to crash badly. That's what you want to aim for And... don't look down right in front of you. You have to trust yourself to remember what is comming up ahead. When you stop looking ahead, you fall. When you see something big and bad, prepare for big and bad - don't do too much to avoid it. The increased fear-factor from falling onto rocks should really just make you more determined to NOT do any quick turns, not the other way around. Most ppl who ski moguls poorly try to turn way too much and end up with not enough speed (or balance) to keep a whole run together.

    (In all honesty, I really haven't DHed enough on a bike to give DH biking advice, but I'd be surprised if it wasn't the same and since Maelstrom made the connection, I'll take his word for it.)

    EDIT: Tell me to stop talking about skiing. It's the wrong forum and the wrong time of year.

  15. #15
    I'm still young, ok? Trasselkalle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fastequalsfun
    I don't hold my breath... should I? I do sometimes stick my tongue out in concentration. (I know, bad idea.)
    No - breathe normal.

    Sticking out the tongue is not just a bad idea. It's saying that you accept the fact that you will sooner or later bite either your whole tongue off or just some part of it. Not good.

  16. #16
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trasselkalle
    Oh the comparison is great, especially when you're skiing moguls. After a while you're going so fast that you know that if you don't just keep going you're going to crash badly. That's what you want to aim for And... don't look down right in front of you. You have to trust yourself to remember what is comming up ahead. When you stop looking ahead, you fall. When you see something big and bad, prepare for big and bad - don't do too much to avoid it. The increased fear-factor from falling onto rocks should really just make you more determined to NOT do any quick turns, not the other way around. Most ppl who ski moguls poorly try to turn way too much and end up with not enough speed (or balance) to keep a whole run together.

    (In all honesty, I really haven't DHed enough on a bike to give DH biking advice, but I'd be surprised if it wasn't the same and since Maelstrom made the connection, I'll take his word for it.)

    EDIT: Tell me to stop talking about skiing. It's the wrong forum and the wrong time of year.
    I don't ski moguls but I obviously live in an area where it is commonplace. The comparisson was made to me and since I watch moguls and see the best just floating over rough conditions and it looks DAMN similar to how the best downhill over rough conditions. The comparisson is pretty good in my books Watching a skilled moguls skier and a skilled downhiller gives me the same tingles...

    Stop talking about skiing

  17. #17
    I'm still young, ok? Trasselkalle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maelstrom
    Stop talking about skiing
    Thanks!

    Btw - why don't I live in a place like Whistler? (Rethorical question - don't get me started.)
    Last edited by Trasselkalle; 06-14-05 at 12:20 PM.

  18. #18
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    Generally low paying jobs, high rent, high cost of living which is offset by surrounding 5 mountains, lots of backcountry, best mountain biking in the world and access to many hundreds of miles of vertical ...oh and its beautiful as well

  19. #19
    I'm still young, ok? Trasselkalle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maelstrom
    Generally low paying jobs, high rent, high cost of living which is offset by surrounding 5 mountains, lots of backcountry, best mountain biking in the world and access to many hundreds of miles of vertical ...oh and its beautiful as well
    Please - places like that don't exist. We all know you're just in it to fool the rest of us

    I mean, I lived in COL for a few years and I still don't really believe in that place. You know - like Santa Clause - nice try, but not likely

  20. #20
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    Are you clipped in when going down? I notice that my confidence goes up when I unclip for the downhill...I lower my seat about 4 inches as well and I dont really sit on it, I sit behind it kinda tucking/squeezing it with my legs. If I leave my seat up I feel like im gonna go ass over elbows real quick.

    The only place i have done lately is 2.25 miles down hill with an average speed a bit over 30...reaching close to 40mph...not sure how fast that is in comparison to some of you guys but it seems fast enough for me..especially the sweeping off camber corners that make me feel like im gonna go off the side of the trail.

  21. #21
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Before you take any of the excellent advice given here- check out your wheels and forks. I ride XC but if I know I am going to be doing some aggressive Downhills, I change to a stronger set of wheels and give a little more travel on the forks.

  22. #22
    Gravity Is Yer Friend dirtbikedude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maelstrom
    ... best mountain biking in the world and access to many hundreds of miles of vertical ...oh and its beautiful as well
    We used to hold that claim but it all went to shyte Oh well back to topic

    Since you have your seat set for xc and do not lower it you probably are not low enough. Try and find a saddle hight some where inbetween and see what happens.

    Some thing else to consider, tire pressures. If you are runing high psi as most xc riders do, it can affect how much grip you get while at speed. I am no longer a xc rider although I still do the occasional 50mi ride but even then I never have more then 32psi (with a cold tire). It will allow a wider contact patch but you will loose rolling resistance and you may not like it on the climbs


    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam
    Before you take any of the excellent advice given here- check out your wheels and forks. I ride XC but if I know I am going to be doing some aggressive Downhills, I change to a stronger set of wheels and give a little more travel on the forks.
    I would have to dissagree with doing this unless you have the money for a second set of wheels. Once you get the skills you should be able to shred a dh course even on a full ridged bike. Yeah, you will not be as fast as the guys on fs bikes but you should be able to go a lot faster then where you are at now. My point, it is not your wheels and would only be the fork if your dh runs are over very rocky, root infested, big hit etc. etc. etc. type of terrain.

    The bike you have can handle a lot and your fork should be able to handle the stutter bumps/brake bumps(what ever you prefer to call them) if you have the compression/rebound set properly.

    You will need to decide, do you want your bike set up for the long haul and climbing ability or more towards the dh speed runs? You can go inbetween but then you will never be the fastest on the dh nor will your xc rides be as easy as they are now.

    After typing all that I just had a thought... how long have you been riding? You could just need some practice

  23. #23
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    After typing all that I just had a thought... how long have you been riding? You could just need some practice
    Thanks for the info! I usually piss my xc riding buddies off by running a low tire pressure, so I think I've got that one down. I honestly have no idea how to dial in my front fork. I guess I'll have to just experiment. I've been riding for about 7 years, on and off, but I could always use more practice!!
    Me gusta la bicicleta!

  24. #24
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    I can recommend one other thing. Find a resort and do a one week trip (in whistler there are 50trails all varrying descents, you are bound to get better in 2 or 3 three days). I have said this before but with a lift you get in 10 to 20 runs a day. Thats a months worth of descents to a avg xc rider. Rent a big bike and play, a lot. I took one girl up last year, pure bred xc. I walked her through some key riding techniques, she immediately improved and got more confident. 60 runs later (5 days) she was ripping it pretty good, but the real bonus, we went out for a xc ride (where she normally destroys me until we point down) and she didn't ride the downhill part all stiff anymore, she flowed and went like a machine. She was almost keeping up to me too. So now she completely beats me on any trail and is way more comfortable in any situation instead of just going up

  25. #25
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    Sweet! I'll definitely have to give something like that a try.
    Me gusta la bicicleta!

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