Notices
Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like : "Unbound Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Descending Tips

Old 10-11-21, 12:13 PM
  #1  
Newbie
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2021
Posts: 38
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 28 Post(s)
Liked 9 Times in 5 Posts
Descending Tips

Any tips for descending on types of terrain like that pictured below? I'm going to list my current strategies/thought processes now as a relative beginner, and I would appreciate your input. Thanks!

Generally, I try to:

1. See if I can find an unobstructed line through the rocks and ruts
2. If I can't. find the least obstructive line
3. Look at the bottom. Can I see the bottom? Is there a curve/bend? Do I know what's around the curve/bend?
a.) if I can't see the bottom, I tend to brake quite a lot on my way down just in case the bottom or around the bend there's a cliff or dangerous obstruction, or even other people
b.) If I CAN see the bottom, I try to see if there are any large potholes, trenches, etc... If there are, I will generally brake on my way down and also try to avoid them
c.) If there are no large potholes/trenches etc at the bottom, I have a clear line, AND there is enough flat ground or maybe another upward slope after the bottom to "catch" me, I will usually just go down full speed.

I do find that the more I go down a given hill, the better I get, and generally the faster I can go down it safely. Is it pretty common to be riding the brakes the first time you go down these types of hills? I hit some recently that were EXTREMELY steep and frankly I was concerned I wouldnt be able to stop if I just let the bike go at the speed gravity wanted. I think much of this comes from being new to "gravel" biking in general, even though I know I'm sorta underbike mountain biking sometimes. But please understand that these trails are often not marked "MOUNTAIN BIKES ONLY" so what starts at a nice gravel path ends with me on some pretty intense stuff.... But I still have fun.





Dr1v3n is offline  
Old 10-11-21, 12:27 PM
  #2  
Full Member
 
tdilf's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Southeastern PA
Posts: 294

Bikes: Niner RLT RDO, Trek Remedy 9.8

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 108 Post(s)
Liked 117 Times in 70 Posts
Keep weight back as far a possible, be very light on the front brake, do not oversteer, use body more to steer than usual
tdilf is offline  
Old 10-11-21, 06:07 PM
  #3  
Senior Member
 
dwmckee's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 2,468

Bikes: Co-Motion Cappuccino Tandem,'88 Bob Jackson Touring, Co-Motion Cascadia Touring, Open U.P., Ritchie Titanium Breakaway, Frances Cycles SmallHaul cargo bike. Those are the permanent ones; others wander in and out of the stable occasionally as well.

Mentioned: 7 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 427 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 340 Times in 230 Posts
That is on the rougher side for a gravel bike but still very doable.
- 650b wheels with 2"+ tires would be great for that.
- Weight low and way back to let front tire float a bit (hang butt behind seat)
- Brake both brakes at same time. Occasionally test surface with brakes to gauge traction level.
- Very loose hands just barely gripping. Bent elbows
- Let front wheel somewhat find it's own path if you can. Avoid sudden steering moves.
- Lower seat if you have a dropper.
- I use a Lauf suspension fork which really helps maintain steering control when descending really fast.
- Look for a "high spot" path all of the way down if there are deep ruts and ravines. Stay out of the bottom of the gullies.
- Sometimes the extreme outside edges (or just beyond the outside the edges) are the best surface.
- Carry a first aid kit.

Last edited by dwmckee; 10-12-21 at 05:23 PM.
dwmckee is offline  
Old 10-11-21, 07:12 PM
  #4  
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: New Hampshire
Posts: 198

Bikes: 1984 homemade 531SL road bike; 1988 Ritchey TimberComp; 1997 Nashbar tandem; 1998 Kona Explosif; Specialized Epic, Scott CR1 Pro; Salsa Beargrease; Curtlo custom Tandem, Curtlo custom S3 steel gravel bike.

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 68 Post(s)
Liked 49 Times in 37 Posts
Assuming you have a drop bar bike - use the drops when descending technical terrain. That is what they are for. If you bang the front of the bike into a rut you will not have your hands got lying off the bars when you are in the drops.
And lower pressure with tubeless will make technical terrain far more enjoyable!
Chilepines is offline  
Old 10-11-21, 07:18 PM
  #5  
Senior Member
 
tyrion's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: San Diego, California
Posts: 4,076

Bikes: Velo Orange Piolet

Mentioned: 28 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2228 Post(s)
Liked 2,011 Times in 972 Posts
Get out of the saddle, weight aft, minimize steering input, be prepared to a drift little (being out of the saddle makes drifting more controllable), watch for ruts that narrow and can trap your front tire. Try to use the berms to turn.
tyrion is offline  
Old 10-11-21, 09:56 PM
  #6  
Sunshine
 
mstateglfr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Des Moines, IA
Posts: 16,701

Bikes: '18 class built steel roadbike, '19 Fairlight Secan, '88 Schwinn Premis , Black Mountain Cycles Monstercross V4, '89 Novara Trionfo

Mentioned: 124 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 11048 Post(s)
Liked 7,596 Times in 4,236 Posts
Buy a mountain bike with suspension, wider tires, and a dropper post.
Use it.
mstateglfr is offline  
Likes For mstateglfr:
Old 10-12-21, 03:01 AM
  #7  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: UK
Posts: 764

Bikes: Dahon Jetstream p8 (sold), customized Dahon Helios x10, customzed Dahon Smooth Hound x11,customized Dahon Hammerhead 8.0 d7, Planet X Free Ranger (mullet setup 1x11), Planet X Giovanissimi 20 (1x9), Frog 52 (1x9) and Frog 48 1s

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 276 Post(s)
Liked 246 Times in 182 Posts
Originally Posted by tyrion
Get out of the saddle, weight aft, minimize steering input, be prepared to a drift little (being out of the saddle makes drifting more controllable), watch for ruts that narrow and can trap your front tire. Try to use the berms to turn.
yes, only thing I could add is use your "core" and legs to control the skid/drift. You might want to find a flat smooth gravel path to train; go fast and drop the rear brake to manufacture a skid and learn to control it with your core/legs.
if there are cracks or roots, try to go over them perpendicularly; if you go almost parallel, there is a change that the lack of camber grip will force you in the the crack/along the root and cause a crash... I learnt the hard way on muddy tractor and motocross bike tracks...
Fentuz is offline  
Likes For Fentuz:
Old 10-12-21, 02:00 PM
  #8  
Expired Member
 
shelbyfv's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: TN
Posts: 11,792
Mentioned: 41 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3765 Post(s)
Liked 5,716 Times in 2,885 Posts
I'd enjoy that more on a mtb.
shelbyfv is offline  
Likes For shelbyfv:
Old 10-12-21, 04:04 PM
  #9  
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2020
Posts: 2,888
Mentioned: 13 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1346 Post(s)
Liked 3,270 Times in 1,439 Posts
  • Don't fight the bike unless you have to; let the front wheel find the line.
  • Use your thighs and knees to "steer" with the saddle.
  • Avoid a death grip on your bars.
  • Use both brakes at the same time -- feather, don't grab.

In short: stay loose, low, and back.
Rolla is offline  
Old 10-12-21, 06:41 PM
  #10  
Senior Member
 
tigat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Colorado
Posts: 557

Bikes: 2021 Trek Checkpoint SL (GRX Di2), 2020 Domane SLR 9 (very green), 2016 Trek Emonda SL, 2009 Bianchi 928, 1972 Atala Record Pro

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 85 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 143 Times in 55 Posts
OP: What you're showing in the pictures is about the limit of what I'll do on the gravel bike, or would want to do on a mountain bike. My set up, designed for a one-handed rider, fires both front and back brakes pretty much evenly off a single lever. Weight to the back and I've never had anything close to an end over.


On that type of terrain, safety rules if you are not racing, and even then should probably rule unless you're getting paid for it. I come in cautious and then pick the spot where I can cut loose and ride out the bumps/corners without braking.
tigat is offline  
Old 10-14-21, 02:04 PM
  #11  
Fax Transport Specialist
 
black_box's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: chicago burbs
Posts: 1,000

Bikes: '17 giant propel, '07 fuji cross pro, '10 gary fisher x-caliber

Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 591 Post(s)
Liked 394 Times in 251 Posts
It looks like a mistake or bad luck would be costly here. There's no need to set records all at once, take time to work your speed up gradually. See the different types of terrain? I would test how hard I could brake on each (keeping in mind conditions will change on the weather and some randomness). Forcing a tail slide sounds like a great idea to learn how to control the bike if it's not damaging the trails too much (off-road trails here are more tightly managed).
black_box is offline  
Old 10-18-21, 10:04 AM
  #12  
For The Fun of It
 
Paul Barnard's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Louisissippi Coast
Posts: 5,853

Bikes: Lynskey GR300, Lynskey Backroad, Litespeed T6, Lynskey MT29, Burley Duet

Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2137 Post(s)
Liked 1,650 Times in 831 Posts
That terrain is much better suited for an MTB. If that's a part of a route where a gravel bike is much better suited, you just have to accept the compromise that is a gravel bike. I have a few rougher patches on my favorite mixed surface routes. I lift slightly off the saddle with flexed knees, letting my legs absorb the shock. Others may pedal through that kind of stuff, but I am just gong to let gravity work its wonders!
Paul Barnard is offline  
Old 10-18-21, 12:42 PM
  #13  
Senior Member
 
rumrunn6's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: 25 miles northwest of Boston
Posts: 29,592

Bikes: Bottecchia Sprint, GT Timberline 29r, Marin Muirwoods 29er, Trek FX Alpha 7.0

Mentioned: 112 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5234 Post(s)
Liked 3,609 Times in 2,357 Posts
was going to suggest a dropper post, but someone already has. I don't have a "cyclocross" bike. don't know how you guys do this kind of stuff w/ drop bars. kudos to you
rumrunn6 is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service -

Copyright © 2024 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.