I realise the title implies that I might know something about this pastime, but it’s more a case of process of elimination.
Matt and I were out on Sunday, pounding the trails on what now seems to be our 22 mile regular ride, when we tackled a short descent that we’d not done for maybe a couple of years. It’s a chalky, stoney, steep little descent that had a 90° right hander just at the steepest bit, with the added fun of a rather large gully.
This is something that had kept us entertained one summer with notable efforts from our dear friend Simon who has been responsible for taking out a few saplings during a dismount on the way down.
So, anyway, it’s been raining a lot, there are a lot of leaves and the chalk is slippery. I hadn’t really expected Matt to go for the idea, but he’s not used to the amount of sugar he’d just had in the Hot Chocolate rather than his normal tea. He must have been having a bit of a rush.
So off we headed and just plain went for it. The fact then dawned on me as I was facing some rather large flints that the rigid bike I was on may not have been the best choice of ride, so I slowed down and executed an un-clip manoeuvre in one smooth motion. A few sideways kicks later, a degree of heart pounding and I found myself at the bottom having completed a sweet little descent.
Matt drew up behind me having completed the section as well and we congratulated ourselves and headed off. This did get me thinking about why we were able to ride something we considered difficult in the past with a fair degree of ease and also question who we could take down the said route.
It dawned on me that really the difference was simply knowing when and where you could brake, and when you could let go and trust the bike. Not much of a revelation you may say but that really is one of the things that makes a natural rider as opposed to one that needs to work at it.
It probably also has something to do with the quality and effectiveness of modern disc brakes!
The bottom line is:
- Momentum is your friend – it helps your balance
- Get your weight as far back off the saddle as possible
- Brake smoothly in a straight line without snatching
- Controlled speed is better than no speed