4. Plant your weight on your outside foot.
To corner safely, you need your center of gravity to remain over your tyres and your weight distributed appropriately across both wheels. With your body weight planted on the pedal facing the outside of the corner, you’re increasing the traction your tyres have on the road. You can’t be tentative about this; press your weight onto the outside foot.
5. Learn to Read the Road
If you can get used to reading the signs along the road it will help you with your descending; hedge rows, telephone poles etc. The more you descend, the better you’ll get at recognising the signs. You can predict where the bends will come by looking at the profile of the hills ahead of you. In the same way, you can also use the tree-line to predict what will happen next.
Be mindful of hazards and interpret what’s around the corner. Just because you recognise these hazards, doesn’t mean immediately killing your speed, it just puts you in the right mindset to respond more quickly should such an obstacle arise.
6. Getting Your Bike Set Up Right
Having a bike that is properly maintained and set up will do wonders for your descending, not just from a practical point of view, but from a mental one as well. Having full confidence in your brakes is imperative, but having your bars correctly positioned and your seat at the right height will also play a big role in helping you descend at speed.
1. Brake late, but before the corners.
You ought to make significant changes in speed before you enter a corner, using both brakes so you are in control of your speed. You may still be on the brakes in the turn, but the significant braking will have been done. You should have eased off the brakes so as not to overload the tyres with braking forces and turning forces. If you go into a corner too fast and grab the brakes, you’ll either lock up the wheels and slide or crash; or your momentum will carry you so far to the outside of the turn that you’ll miss the exit and end up in the trees. The more advanced way is to brake late; hold your speed until you’re closer to the corner and use more braking power to slow down quickly, here disc brakes come into their own as they will have consistant braking perfomance whenever you want it.
2. Look as Far Ahead as Possible
Your bike goes where your eyes are pointed; look through to the exit of the corner. So much of where you’re ‘pointing’ comes down to where you’re looking . When descending, don’t just look ahead of your front wheel or the rider in front of you, instead try to set your gaze well down the track, ideally after the bend you’re currently tackling. If you do this, you’ll flow through the bends with ease and you’ll still catch small hazards like gravel in the road or someone trying to overtake on the inside with your peripheral vision.
With corners, rocks, potholes, etc. coming at you quickly, you have to pick your lines early. Ideally, you want to set up wide as you enter a corner, cut through the apex, and exit wide. Choosing the wrong line on the entry makes it difficult to safely exit the turn and stay on the road.
3. Body position is everything
A good low position on the bike like the pros’ is what you should be trying to emulate. When you’re descending it makes sense to get as low as possible on the bike. It makes you aerodynamic, but also being low-down on the bike lowers your centre of gravity, making you more stable as you corner . When you’re hurtling into the bends, fight your instinct to lean into the curve with your body – instead, keep your body weight above the tyres as much as possible and lean the bike instead. This will imcrease the traction you get through the turns.