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.
Descending if mastered can shave minutes off your times. Some riders seem to possess an ability to drop like a stone from the side of huge mountains without any trace of fear, others are not so blessed. It’s a fantastic skill to have and believe it or not, it doesn’t take that much to master.
If you’ve ever felt the fear on a descent, suffered a nasty crash that you haven’t quite mentally recovered from, or have simply never been told how to do it right – Here are some tips which will have you nailing it downhill with supreme confidence.
What makes the difference between a beautiful, fast, and smooth descent and a nervous, wobbly one? Skill is the foundation of great descending. Skill instills confidence and confidence builds courage, and the combination of skill, confidence, and courage gets you down the mountain fast.
If you’re not racing you don’t need to take big risks on descents, it’s important to note that having great descending skills it will make you safer and more confident rider in all conditions.
Everyone has to slow down for the corners, but the best riders take great lines, position themselves over their bikes perfectly, brake late and slow down the least; and those skills can either move you off the front of the pack or help you catch back on.
Fancy a bit more adrenaline in your riding? If so it is time to get signed up for a Racing License. There are a number of regular races for everyone from elite to beginner local to Richmond. It certainly helps with entries to be a member of a club, we recommend Twickenham CC but Kingston Wheelers, London Dynamo, Richmond Park Rouleurs are all local and have a visible presence on our local roads and racetracks.
Hillingdon racetrack is our nearest introduction to British Cycling endorsed racing and has regularly scheduled Saturday afternoon (winter) and Tuesday night (spring onwards) races. They can be quite hairy at times but it is a great way to get used to riding in a racing peloton. We are also lucky to have the Lee Valley Velopark over in the Olympic park, a closed circuit loop surrounded by iconic sports arenas from the 2012 Olympics.
As you gain points in the lower categories you will progress upwards towards the holy grail of Elite cat races. British Cycling offer racing for kids, juniors and age group adults so there are no barriers to entering! The experience and sheer speed that you will gain from racing will be invaluable as you reach a higher level. Race craft is something that can only be gained by doing, not watching or discussing so it really is just a matter of getting involved.
You won’t be allowed to race any of these events without an up to date British Cycling racing license so that is the first job to do. After that, get racing!
Group Ride Do's
· Find a group where the pace is right for you, all of the manoeuvres in a group ride will be much easier if you are not at your limit.
· Listen carefully to any club rules, or if riding a sportive or on the open road then introduce yourself to the group when joining up.
· Communicate clearly. Loud calls warning of any approaching hazards are always helpful and the safest and most efficient groups are always the loud, chatty ones.
· Signals are crucial. On our local roads a pothole warning is the one most frequently used- a clear single finger point at the hole. A loud shout of hole is often encouraged also!
· Pull longer- not harder! If you are rotating the front with riders of varying speeds then the speed should stay constant but stronger riders are advised to pull longer turns with weaker riders doing a short rotation. This keeps the pace manageable for all and helps manage fatigue levels in the group.
Group Ride Don’ts
· Be late. It’s tedious for everyone.
· Push too hard, the advantage of riding in a group is the overall efficiency. This is not helped by individuals pushing so hard the group fractures. Be patient, take your time- you will be surprised how quickly a well run group can knock off the miles.
· Pull away hard from red lights. The concertina effect will mean that those at the back of the group have to expend way more effort to hold the wheel than is fair. Roll off steady.
· Swerve late without signalling to avoid an obstacle. Think about it, you hid the obstacle and then exposed it last minute. The rider behind you has no chance, they will hit it…
· Hit your brakes unnecessarily, unless you really have to it is far better to back off the power than brake- braking will make a crash more likely and cause over effort to bridge back to the group once a split occurs.
Alchemy Oros Carbon – MOUNTAIN
ARKTOS | CARBON FIBRE FULL SUSPENSION
Alchemy’s Oros carbon fibre hard-tail is the culmination of years of hand laying carbon and pushing the limits of the material’s potential. Oros is as durable as it is lightweight. Alchemy’s distinctive production process uses a trapped rubber molding process to achieve Oros’s big, bold shapes without compromising fibre compaction.
Oros is specifically designed to maximize the torsional and horizontal rigidity expected in an XC hard-tail. Its massive head tube, kept deliberately short, creates exceptional torsional rigidity. This is a necessity, though often overlooked, it keeps overall front end height reasonably low – a must have for discerning racers.
Alchemy Arktos Custom Carbon – MOUNTAIN
The Arktos Custom is made by Alchemy in Denver, CO and features a new dual-linkage platform called Sine Suspension that Alchemy licensed exclusively from David Earle. The name Sine derives from the way the shock rate, when graphed, resembles a sine wave: It’s regressive through the first part of the travel to absorb small bumps and provide climbing traction; progressive in the middle of the stroke to avoid wallowing on big hits or in hard, fast corners; then slightly regressive again in the last 15 percent of the stroke to enable the bike to use all 6 inches of its rear-wheel travel. Sine is also designed to minimize chainstay growth when the bike is moving, which is intended to help with pedaling efficiency and keep the suspension active under braking.
Built with the future in mind, this bike is compatible with a 1x drive train and 650b wheelset. Internal routing for the brakes, shifter, and dropper post keep this bike looking sharp. The frame and Fox Float X is £3,700. Included is a 2 colour stock paint scheme choosing from Alchemy’s 15 stock colours. The stock sizes S, M, L, and XL are sure to fit anyone looking to be the talk of the town.
Alchemy Arktos Carbon – MOUNTAIN
ARKTOS | CARBON FIBRE FULL SUSPENSION
The Arktos features a new dual-linkage platform called Sine Suspension that Alchemy licensed exclusively from David Earle. The name Sine derives from the way the shock rate, when graphed, resembles a sine wave: It’s regressive through the first part of the travel to absorb small bumps and provide climbing traction; progressive in the middle of the stroke to avoid wallowing on big hits or in hard, fast corners; then slightly regressive again in the last 15 percent of the stroke to enable the bike to use all 6 inches of its rear-wheel travel. Sine is also designed to minimize chainstay growth when the bike is moving, which is intended to help with pedaling efficiency and keep the suspension active under braking.
Built with the future in mind, this bike is compatible with a 1x drive train and 650b wheelset. Internal routing for the brakes, shifter, and dropper post keep this bike looking sharp. The frame and Fox Float X is $2999, choose between the Cornflower Blue or Goldenrod color options. The stock sizes S, M, L, and XL are sure to fit anyone looking to be the talk of the town.
Alchemy Hyas Carbon – CYCLOCROSS-GRAVEL
The Hyas is your do everything quiver killer bike. From muddy fire roads to high-speed mountain descents this monster will chew up whatever you throw at it. The rear triangle is the same as our award-winning Aithon, giving the rider a stiff yet cushioned ride.
This is our most progressive carbon gravel bike, offered in stock sizes and colours.
Alchemy Kratos Titanium – ADVENTURE
Kratos; the obvious choice for an all-around adventure bike. Whether you’re planning a multi-day bike packing trip or just enjoy getting off the paved roads, this adventure bike will keep you comfortable over any terrain. Throw on some 42mm tires and feel confident in your choice of an adventure-mobile.
The Kratos is built with Alchemy’s special blend of titanium tubes, increasing stiffness and torque at the bottom bracket while maintaining pedal response, a vital trait when you are your own support vehicle. American-made seamless 3a/2.5v titanium tubing creates a frame that holds up to any abuse and delivers world-beating performance.
Alchemy Aithon Carbon – CYCLOCROSS/GRAVEL
The Aithon is a steed for the long haul. Its carbon fibre frame is designed to dampen the constant vibrations of gravel and off-road riding, with no sacrifice of efficiency.
Aithon’s rear triangle features a layup designed to offer maximum compliance with room for a 35mm tire and plenty of pneumatic suspension to augment Aithon’s supreme handling of road vibration.
Whether your personal odyssey takes you off the pavement and your horizon lays somewhere down a loose and dusty road or on a high speed paved road, the Aithon is the bike of choice.
Alchemy Chiron Titanium – CYCLOCROSS
Chiron’s tapered down tube and top tube translate into increased stiffness and torque at the bottom bracket. American-made seamless 3a/2.5v titanium tubing creates a frame that holds up to any abuse and delivers world-beating performance.
Alchemy Balius Carbon – CYCLOCROSS
The carbon fiber Balius brings a new dimension to competitive cyclocross offering a ride custom-tuned to its rider’s strengths. Fortified with our signature tube-to-tube lay-up schedule, the Balius is constructed with specific stiffness characteristics oriented to your individual performance demands. Dive into corners with precision, descend without fear, or out sprint your nearest rival in the finishing stretch — whatever your cyclocross superpower, Balius is your secret weapon.
It’s time for CX athletes to leave the compromise of mass production behind. Balius delivers proof of the tuneabilbity, superior fit, performance and durability that custom carbon fiber can offer. Lightweight, bespoke carbon fibre floats on your shoulder through run-ups, all the way to the podium.
Alchemy Skylla Stainless Steel Titanium – ROAD
Strong and graceful define stainless steel as a frame material. Our proprietary stainless steel tubes are shaped to our standards, creating a one of a kind ride quality. It excels at everything, from climbs and dirt roads, to long-distance randonneuring and sharp mountain descents. We designed the Skylla to be vertically compliant while maintaining lateral rigidity, and to be forgiving on the body while propelling you with conviction at every pedal stroke.
The seat and chain stays distinguish subtle design while the classic down tube and top tube add to its classy look. If you’re looking to fall in love with a steel bike again, the Skylla will seduce you.