Whether you’re into cross-country, a downhill racer or a marathon specialist, knowing how to cope with technical descents is paramount to not only getting down them more quickly, but also to do so safely. And have more fun too.
Currently riding for the Madison Saracen downhill race team and competing in the national DH series, 16-year-old Josh Lowe knows the fastest way to get a mountain bike down a hill.
He took some time out from his training to share his top five tips for improving your technical descending skills. These are tips that any rider can apply to their riding.
Looking up and ahead
The most significant but also critical change you can make to your riding is through raising your head and looking much further into the track that you may deem as necessary. Now this may sound very simple indeed but the philosophy behind it is that the mind reacts much slower to the body.
As a result of looking up, the mind has longer to figure out what will be coming up, while the body instinctively reacts much quicker than you would think possible. This allows you to ride faster and also safer because not only do you know what is coming-up in advance but you give your body more time to react.
A prime example is when going into a corner, try to look at the highest point of the track at the end of the turn, and as you get progressively faster you may need to look further down the track.
The second top tip coincides with the first which is leaning back over the bike. As you look up towards the end of sections you will notice yourself leaning over the back of the bike. However this is a very good thing and you want to be positioned centrally or to the rear of the bike.
Not only does this relieve pressure from your arms, but it allows you to ride more smoothly and with an increased amount of grip.
Knowing the trail
Knowing the trail is the biggest advantage, because braking points can save you hitting the floor and can save you some time. Braking points are different for diverse tracks and riders. As you grow to be faster, the braking points going into corners or sections may become shorter and shorter.
However recognising when it is necessary to brake comes through walking the track because you can often judge how fast you can hit the section. Now this may not seem correct ‘braking to go faster’ because of the juxtaposition of opposites yet in actual fact, braking in certain areas and then letting off the brakes through sections allows you to maintain grip and to ride smoothly and precisely.
Tyre choice and pressure
Tyre choice is not as black and white as it first appears due to the expanding range of tires, width and compound, all of which, made by evolving tire brands. As a result the huge range proposes a tire for almost every type of condition. Furthermore tire choice is becoming increasingly important and beneficial.
Coinciding with tires is the obvious but practical tyre pressure; which allows a wider surface area when the pressure is lower-unbelievably useful in the wet conditions, and saves the use of wet tires.
Last but definitely not least is focus. Concentration and obliteration of fear is the key to all types of victory, whether it being a personal gain or a World Cup win, a strong mental game will allow a rider’s full potential to flourish.
Every rider has their own way of becoming mentally strong but at the forefront of it all is confidence; if someone is self trusting and focused towards a goal or a target then the target will be reached because the body will follow the mind. However in order to reach said target, you must set your goals high and work extremely hard to project ambition into reality.