How to Descend on a Road Bike Safely

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If you don’t know how to properly descend from slopes when riding your bike, you’ll be faced with lots of difficulties and inconveniences. This means that if you’re going to be taking cycling seriously, you must learn how to descend on a road bike.

There are different things that you must know before you can successfully descend down slopes. In this post, we cover those things. However, the contents of this article wouldn’t be totally helpful if you fail to practice what you’ve learned.

Therefore, after going through this piece and digesting its contents, you must take your bicycle outside and practice.

How to Descend a Hill on a Road Bike

Here are the things you should know about how to descend on a road bike properly:

1. Always Look Ahead

One of the key rules for descending on bikes is looking ahead. Failing to look ahead can lead to accidents and injuries. Make sure that you keep a broad vision that highlights any possible accident-causing obstacles like large rocks.

As you look ahead and spot dangerous obstacles, make sure you make a move to avoid them. As you close in on such obstacles, you shouldn’t remain in their path.

Instead, shift your bicycle to a safe line and keep riding. This way, you won’t expose yourself to the risk of being thrown off the bike. You may feel like the obstacle is still far away and that you’d wait till it gets closer before changing positions. This isn’t a safe move. Avoid it!

For cyclists that ride with a group of other bikers, make sure you’re not too close to the next biker. Good spacing increases safety.

2. Don’t Hold a Lot on the Handlebar

As you practice how to descend a hill on a road bike, you must pay attention to how you hold the handlebars. Don’t tightly grasp the handlebars with excessive force.

This is because the arms are likely going to grow tired as large forces are transferred through the handlebars when the bicycle goes fast over bumpy trails. Instead, you should maintain a firm but flexible grip on the handlebars.

3. Don’t Worry About the Speed

Fear impedes progress. If you want to enjoy biking down slopes, you can’t be scared of going fast.

Put your mind at rest and place some confidence in your bike’s quality. Note that your bicycle should be in good shape and make sure of quality before you ride at top speeds down a slope.

You should also avoid the habit of fixing your eyes on the bike’s Garmin. This could instill a sense of fear as you see your cycling speed rise from a few km/h to higher units. Try to enjoy the ride while speeding down the slopes.

4. Learn How to Brake Properly

Because you’re afraid of speeding down steep slopes, you might constantly keep your hands pressed on the brakes.

This isn’t good practice. Constantly engaging your brakes could lead to overheating of the bike’s rims.

This consequently results in damage to the tires or a dangerous shift in position. To avoid any adverse effects of overbraking, engage your brakes only at necessary intervals.

5. Position Yourself

Proper positioning does you a lot of good when biking.

Failure to sit well or balance your weight would result in a poor cycling experience. You may be tempted to lean your weight backward while riding down a slope, but you shouldn’t.

As you learn how to descend on a road bicycle under 500, you should try sitting with your weight positioned between the bike’s wheels. You should position your chin over the bike’s stem.

6. Keep Calm

Relaxation and flexibility are key contributors to seamless cycling, especially when you’re going down a slope.

If you have a rigid hold on the handlebars, you won’t be able to navigate easily around bends and sharp corners. On the other hand, a gentle grip of the handlebars would make it easier to engage the front wheels.

Keep your body relaxed, not too relaxed, and be more calculative with your biking instead of being rigid and forceful.

How to Ride Wet Descents on a Bike

Depending on where you’ve chosen to ride, trails could be dry or wet with rain. Clearly, wet trails/roads would be more dangerous than dry trails.

This is because friction between the road and tires is reduced. Unlike dry roads that encourage cycling at top speeds, you need to reduce your speed when cycling down a wet slope.

In an attempt to regulate your speed, don’t brake suddenly. This could lead to a potential crash and resulting injuries.

Apply the brakes with a controlled amount of force at safe intervals. Also, keep your eyes peeled for obstacles and dangerous proximity to other cyclists in a group.

Bicycle Emergency Braking

Regardless of how much attention you pay to the road when biking, you may still run into some unforeseen circumstances. In such a situation, you may need to make an emergency stop.

This is what you should know:

  • As you engage both brakes with a large force, shift your weight backward and keep your hands pressed on the brakes. You’re to engage both brakes at once, not just the front brakes alone, so as to avoid a crash and injuries.
  • You should do your best to prevent skidding. This usually happens as a result of the brakes getting locked up.

Extra Tips

Here are a few crucial things to keep in mind:

Take It Easy

When you’re descending properly on your bike, and you’re able to exercise good control, there should be a feeling of calmness and relaxation instead of tension.

Sit in the right position, grip the handlebars with good flexibility, and relax your body.

Brake Properly

As you practice riding down a slope, you should pay attention to proper brake application.

If you engage the brakes for a prolonged period of time, it will only lead to excessive heating of the brake pads and rims.

Hence to avoid damage to brakes and potential brake failure, you shouldn’t engage the brakes for extended periods of time.

Be Careful When It’s Wet

When the biking trail is wet, you must exercise more caution.

There’s more danger associated with a wet slope than a dry one. When you need to engage your brakes, you must do so gently and gradually.

Considering the lowered level of friction between the road and the tires, you cannot afford to brake hard and suddenly.

Conclusion

If you’re still struggling with making proper descends on sloping terrain, you need to practice more.

However, it isn’t enough. Remember to position your weight between both wheels instead of pulling your weight backward.

You should also practice how to tuck on a road bike, as this will improve balance and efficiency. Pay attention to dangerous obstacles and brake with caution, especially when the road is wet.

James is a passionate bicyclist who has done about every kind of biking there is. He loves the wind in his hair, the sun over his shoulder and maybe even the bugs in his teeth. No, just kidding about that last item. He isn’t crazy about road burns, either, but acknowledges that to have the good there is the occasional tumble. James feels that his bike is the place where he can unwind, leave troubles alongside the road, meet new people, go new places, and live the life of adventure that he loves. He is ready to share the ride with you.

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