A steep downhill can look forbidding, but it is easier to ride than to walk down because feet slip and don’t have brakes. Once you are on a bike, you have technology on your side.
With steep descents, the hardest thing is to overcome your own fear. The key moment is when the front wheel crosses the edge. You must move your weight all the way behind the saddle to the rear wheel. You also need a light hand on the brake and a straight riding line that will help you to keep the handlebars square.
You only run the risk of falling over the handlebars if your weight moves above the front wheel after harsh braking or moving your weight consciously. So, simply don’t do that.
previous episode: turns
Your weight must always shift to the back! You can practice this on level ground. Just loosen the saddle and push it into the frame. Move your hips behind the saddle and then straighten your arms. Learn to sink your butt down as low as possible above the rear wheel. Once you master this technique, it will allow you to ride even very steep declines. Remember always to keep one or two fingers on both brake levers.
Now off to the countryside! Start with something not too crazy. You will learn to handle your fear gradually and to brake and shift your weight properly. Always shift your weight before you move the front wheel across the edge. When braking, try to keep in mind an ABS system in a car. When the wheels lock, they cease braking, so make sure to press the levers in short bursts. In time, you will develop a feel for it. The front brake is more effective, but in this case use it carefully and the rear brake may be the way to go.
Try to keep the handlebars straight. When drifting from side to side, you can easily flip over and fall downhill sideways. Always watch the terrain in front of you and look for escape routes, which is better than hitting a tree. You will see that even the scariest downhill rides will become fun!
If you can handle a steep slope, a stairway should present no problem. Your weight must be shifted back before the first stair, handlebars straight and brake with the back brake. It will be easier to ride at higher speed because the bike is more stable. Watch out for the height of individual steps. If they are higher than 50 cm, you might hit the edge, fly over the handlebars and roll all the way down. Your body should be loose and relaxed to counter the bumps. That’s all!
Next time, we will learn how to take curves properly.