Ivan Basso rips it up on the way down.

Descents are Not for Recovery. Recovery Ales are for Recovery.

Descents are Not for Recovery. Recovery Ales are for Recovery.

by / / 111 posts

My trouble isn’t with being a good descender; it is with cornering and stopping – and sometimes both. Or, as G’rilla puts it, “Descending is like sex; how good I am at it has nothing to do with how much I enjoy it.”

Descending is demanding and requires great skill. It is not a time for resting or taking it easy; getting down the mountain should be every bit as hard as getting up it. Merckx was himself a good climber, but his bikes were all designed to be stable and fast on the descents so he would be able to get off the mountain faster than the mountain goats he was chasing.

On the way down, we are compelled to smoothly spin the pedals at 120 or more rpms in pursuit of maximum speed. Once escape velocity is reached, we contort our bodies into the most aero tuck possible, causing our muscles to scream out in agony from the unnatural position. Cornering, we push on the pedals and bars in an effort to maximize friction between tire and pavement as an alternative to finding too much friction in the ditches at the roadside. The mind is consumed in the total concentration of keeping the rickshaw in one piece.

We hereby hand down Rule #93, plucked from the ether by @urbanwhitetrash in a moment of clair-V-ance after the VVhidbey Island Cogal.

Rule #93 // Descents are not for recovery. Recovery Ales are for Recovery.

Descents are meant to be as hard and demanding as – and much more dangerous than – the climbs. Climb hard, descend to close a gap or open one. Descents should hurt, not be a time for recovery. Recovery is designated only for the pub and for shit-talking.

// Etiquette // Look Pro // Racing // The Rules // Tradition

  1. @PeakInTwoYears

     

    The problem, IMO, is not knowing the specific conditions around the next turn.

    IMO worrying about the SPECIFIC conditions would be nirvana mostly I just worry about where the next turn goes!  I have to admit here, as one who likes to venture out on routes previously unknown to self, that the much scorned GPS is a bit of a help that I use in giving some indication as to whether the next bend is a little wiggle or a complete blind hairpin.  Darn it I guess it’s soap for breakfast again.

  2. @Teocalli

    Dude. I have as much dried semen on my various GPS-enabled devices as any other navigation geek. I really enjoy navigation with map, compass, GPS, and any combination thereof.

    But if you’re looking at the damned thing during a descent, on a bike, I’m sorry, and I’ll be even sorrier when you eat shit because you weren’t looking where you wanted to be in two or three seconds.

  3. All those videos but no mention of Mohorič yet? The kid demonstrated some skills on the WC U23 road race…

  4. @Fiery Just ‘cos you’re a winner doesn’t make it OK.

  5. @piwakawaka

    @Fiery Just ‘cos you’re a winner doesn’t make it OK.

    A-Merckx!  There’s nothing right about that.

  6. @Fiery there’s a reason for that, he’s still pedalling, ergo he hasn’t yet reached Escape Velocity & thus shouldn’t be attempting an aero tuck.

  7. @brett

    @RedRanger

    ride a MTB to become a better descender.

    This.

    Although The Chicken was a bad example of bike handling crossover…

    The best part is where he holds up the bike like a grampa holding his cock and the mech disappears for an age before returning with not a wheel, but an entire bike.

    You can’t write comedy like that.

  8. @Teocalli

    @PeakInTwoYears

    The problem, IMO, is not knowing the specific conditions around the next turn.

    IMO worrying about the SPECIFIC conditions would be nirvana mostly I just worry about where the next turn goes! I have to admit here, as one who likes to venture out on routes previously unknown to self, that the much scorned GPS is a bit of a help that I use in giving some indication as to whether the next bend is a little wiggle or a complete blind hairpin. Darn it I guess it’s soap for breakfast again.

    I’d agree with @PeakInTwoYears that you don’t want to be looking at a GPS to work out where a corner is going. Presumably you want to know so that you can judge your speed into the corner – not so fast that you run off the road or end up on the wrong side playing with the traffic but not so slow that the Rover driving OAPs start overtaking you.

    The UK motorcycle police use a technique called riding to the vanishing point also known as the limit point as a guide to entry speed and when to start laying down the power on the way out. Obviously the second part is less important on a bicycle but the technique for judging entry speed is equally applicable to bicycles as motorbikes or even cars.

    There are plenty of articles on the net explaining it but essentially if the point at which the edges of the road converge are moving towards you, you’re going to fast, not moving you’ve got it right and moving away from you, you need to ma up and go faster on the straights. It doesn’t need to be the edge of the road that you use for a visual cue, hedgerows, lines of trees etc may give you a better indication as you might be able to see them further through the corner.

  9. @Fiery

    All those videos but no mention of Mohorič yet? The kid demonstrated some skills on the WC U23 road race…

    That’s not tuck position. That’s yuck position.

  10. That looks ridiculous….how can you possibly generate any power like that?

    …….I bet we will see Sagan doing that sh*t next season.

  11. As someone commented to me after our recent descent down Macquarie Pass (12k’s of some sweeping bends and a lot of hair pins) “one has to reach a point whilst descending where the thrill overtakes the fear and just go with it”.

  12. @frank Michael Rasmussen: surely one of the least-missed riders ever. Any other nominees? (COTHO is on the list, of course)

  13. Colorado taught me this rule.  Pushing it hard down a canyon for 20K is satisfying.  One more tip I learned besides outside pedal, inside in the drops – relax the outside shoulder to center your weight.

  14. These posts, these videos, have given me a new perspective on descending. This old dog can still learn some new tricks!

  15. @Mikael Liddy

    Trying again c/o chrome

    Thanks, that was great. Almost a meditation on descending without the rider in the picture. Very zen.

  16. @Frank

    If this rule is making its way into the North American version of The Rules, does this mean I can put Published author on my resumé?

  17. If you don’t or can not, learn to counter steer at speed and you will be happily amazed. Counter steering will also save yer ass in the bunch, at any speed – learn it.

  18. @PaulD Just looked up counter steering.  Interesting.  I realised that t I do this subconsiously on my mtb in the woods or at low speeds in traffic.

    So this works at speed on descents then does it?  Will try this tomorrow.

    Great thread @Frank

  19. @Fiery

    All those videos but no mention of Mohorič yet? The kid demonstrated some skills on the WC U23 road race…

    It’s like Graham Obree took him out drinking the night before the race, and filled his head with all sorts of ideas.

  20. @Harminator

    @Fiery

    All those videos but no mention of Mohorič yet? The kid demonstrated some skills on the WC U23 road race…

    That’s not tuck position. That’s yuck position.

    Hardly what you’d call casually deliberate.

  21. @Andre the Fish Hey Andre, I think most of us do it at speed w/out thinking about it, but I’ve seen some guys really struggle when trying going fast around corners on the road because they’re thinking about turning – push the left hand to turn right, when you want to push right to turn right etc.
    Slower speeds, for example, it’ll (help) save you it you touch the wheel in front of you.

  22. Today Shimano road hydraulic brakes are endorsed by none other than Andy Schleck who reports that they help him descend.

    I think Schleck’s descending would improve if he braked less, not more. Probably his TT, too.

    http://www.cyclingnews.com/reviews/shimano-r785-electric-hydraulic-road-system

  23. @G’rilla

    Today Shimano road hydraulic brakes are endorsed by none other than Andy Schleck who reports that they help him descend.

    I think Schleck’s descending would improve if he braked less, not more. Probably his TT, too.

    http://www.cyclingnews.com/reviews/shimano-r785-electric-hydraulic-road-system

    Oh how I hate him!

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  25. Brave. At least he’ll see the bump that castrates him..

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