Hill Descending Techniques
How To Descend On A Moutain Bike – Ride Downhill Fast
Descending steep hills on the trail can be quite daunting, especially if the terrain is very rough with rocks, roots, and dropoffs. Your body must be properly positioned on your bike in order for you to get to the bottom without flying over the handlebars.
Going “over the bars” is one of the most dangerous positions to be in, and has caused many a broken wrist and other injuries to inexperienced riders. It always happens unexpectedly and quickly, feeling like the back of the bike bucks you off.
The reason this happens is that your weight is in the wrong place – too far forward on the bike, and too high. It is always best to lower your seat before you start your descent, and as you start going downhill, shift your weight back and behind the seat. In other words, scoot your butt off your seat and crouch low on the bike, so that your stomach is just above your seat. Stretch your arms out but don’t lock your elbows. This position probably won’t feel natural at first, so try it out on flat ground so that you can see how this feels, and practice your steering. Once you try this on a steep hill, you will be amazed at how well it works, and how much control you have. Be sure to practice your braking as well, because you will need to apply more back brake and less front so that your front wheel doesn’t lock.
There are also a couple of bike modifications you can make to lessen the chance of going over the bars. Many bikes are set up for cross-country riding and have flat bars and long flat stems. This puts your upper torso weight forward on the bike. By replacing those flat bars with riser bars, and the long cross-country stem with a shorter stem (also with a rise), your upper torso is raised and your weight is better positioned on the bike. Being more upright also makes for a more comfortable riding position with less strain on your neck.
Consulting your local bike dealer about any modifications to your bike is a must. They can help you choose the right equipment for your riding style and install it properly. Most dealers also have group rides and lots of great advice. Remember – when descending a steep hill, you want to be in control at all times and going at a speed that you are comfortable with. As you ride more, your skills will quickly increase and you will find that you can add some speed to your downhill riding. You will also find that going over the bars is a thing of the past.