Tyres: Tyres are in good condition check them after every rider for cuts or bits of glass or gravel stuck in the casing. Check pressure regularly for the majority of us 95-100PSI is plenty. Run at least 700 x 25mm wide tyres. If your bike can take 28mm tyres then all the better. It’s worth spending at least €40-50 each on tyres and get tyres with a good compound especially for the wet.
- Good examples of tyres are:
- Continental 5000 or the older version 4000 which you will get on offer now.
- Continental 4 Season Tyres. This is a great all year-round tyre and great for the winter.
- Vittoria Corsa G Tyres.
- Shwalble PRO One.
Brakes: Make sure your brakes are in good working order, cables are free and easy to pull, or if using hydraulic that they pull ok and not too loose. Check pads regularly especially during the winter weather when they wear a lot more than normal.
Use of Brakes: Remember which is your back brake and which is your front brake! This is very important!! When using the brakes pull them gently and feather the brakes i.e. pull and let go, pull and let go, don’t keep on the brakes fully unless it’s an emergency stop. Pull the back brake a little harder than the front and pull the back brake a little earlier than the front. If you keep the brakes pulled all the time on a descent the brakes will be no use to you when they heat up and also it forces you in directions you don’t want to go.
Brake before you come to a corner and have your speed correct before the corner, try not to brake in a corner as it will put you off course!
Body position: When descending it is best to descend with your hands in the drops of the bars. Make sure your handlebars and brake levers are set up correctly so you can reach them when in the drops and that you can sit comfortably in the drops. Push your back side back a few centimetres back on the saddle and relax your elbows. On the straight part of descents have your pedals on the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions so one foot straight forward and one at the back and keep your knees in towards the cross bar of the bike. This all keeps the bike nice and stable at speed. When coming to bends on the descent move your pedal position e.g. if the road bends to the left, then lift the left pedal up to the 12 o’clock position and the right pedal to the 6 o’clock position and push down a little on the right pedal too. The opposite then if turning to the right.
Illustration 1: Hand position in drops and looking ahead
Head Position: ALWAYS!!! be looking straight ahead, eyes up NEVER EVER HEAD DOWN! Always look through a corner to where the exit is and where you want to go to. If the road for example is turning to the right make sure you turn your head and eyes to right and look through the bend. The bike will follow your line of sight.
Illustration 2: Looking through corner and leg up
Bike Position: Use as much as the road as legally possible when descending. If the road is turning to the left move out to the right of the road to the white line max, this will help you see through the bend and also take a better line through the bend. The opposite then if the road is turning to the right, then move to the left side of the road.
Illustration 3: Going wide on the bends
REMEMBER: THINK STICKY VELCRO! YOUR TYRES ARE THE FLUFFY PART AND THE ROAD IS THE GRIPPY PART. Once you have good tyres on with good pressure and your bike and brakes are in good order then this is half of the battle! Breathe deeply and relax as best you can on descents. If it’s raining then take your time a little more and avoid the painted white lines and shores on the road.
You don’t have to be Evil Kenevil! Just do the correct things and do it at your own pace.