Speed is addictive, and it plays a huge part in what makes mountain biking so much fun. Flying down a piece of singletrack, narrowly avoiding trees, with the roar of the wind all around is one of those experiences that’s unique to mountain biking, and one that never fails to generate a smile.
What do we mean by fast descending? In this context it can apply to steep, technical terrain ridden at pace, as well as flatter trails taken at genuinely eye-watering speeds. On steeper technical sections, the absolute speed, in terms of mph, is never actually that fast. But watch a good rider hit a rough section of trail and the speeds are definitely high relative to the terrain.
On gentler gradients, as long as the trail is smooth, you can hit and maintain high speeds with surprisingly little effort, it doesn’t take much gradient at all before you’re nudging 30mph just inches from trees. This month we’re going to look at the preparation and processes needed to really attack both scenarios and ride the terrain to its maximum speed.
Here are our top tips on how to ride fast descents:
Breathing – You don’t want to be out of breath before you hit any section, make sure you’ve sufficiently recovered before rolling in
Look – The faster you go the further ahead you should look. Make sure you’ve spotted the first corner and plan how to tackle it
Attitude – It’s incredible how much a change of mental attitude can alter how we ride. Decide beforehand how you’re going to tackle the trail ahead; in reality you often combine various approaches, but having a goal at the forefront of your mind will always influence your approach.
Gear – Select a gear that will allow you to accelerate quickly on the trail you’re about to ride
Saddle – Set your saddle height depending on the trail you’re facing, a flatter trail may not require you to drop it all the way.
Look – Process the trail ahead of you and plan how you’ll tackle obstacles – remember the faster you go the quicker the obstacles come. Focus on where you want to go – not where you want to avoid
Body – Above all else allow the bike to move around below you – let your arms and legs to work in tandem with suspension, not fight against it
Pedal – Use the pedals to put the tyre where you want it on steep stuff. On flat sections pedals are more about maintaining speed, don’t select too hard a gear incase you encounter an incline.
So now you know how to ride fast descents point the wheels down and attack that trail.