How to overcome your fear of going fast on descents

Had a fall on the bike and struggling to rebuild your confidence? Identify any technique problems you might have and deal with them quickly, says Mat Brett

Cyclists heading downhill

If you’ve had a bad fall on the bike recently and are struggling to regain confidence on descents then help is at hand.

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You’ve probably ridden downhill thousands of times without trouble but it just takes one ‘off’ to smash your confidence and reduce the enjoyment of cycling outdoors.

So, whether the road surface was wet, gravelly or you were carrying too much speed into a bend, the chances are that there are adjustments you can make to your riding technique to ensure you don’t do the same thing again in similar circumstances.

How to control your speed 

If you overshot a fast, downhill corner, for instance, you need work on controlling your speed.

How to cycle safely in the wet

If you slipped on a wet drain cover, you need to avoid them in future. Whatever the problem, identify it and deal with it. This in itself will boost your confidence.

How to improve your downhill confidence

The other thing to do is work on your descending skills more generally. The best way to do that is to find a challenging descent and ride it repeatedly – doing so while returning to the start during a hill repeat interval session is ideal.

Every time you descend, you want to wring a little more out of the slope. Can you lay off the brakes a bit more, lean the bike over a little more steeply through the bends, or get back on the gas a bit quicker afterwards?

The advantage of riding one hill repeatedly is that you can identify the sections where you can save time and work on them gradually without taking chances. You’ll quickly improve your skills and increase your confidence.

You can then take everything you’ve developed and transfer it over to your general riding.

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Top image credit: Jonny Gawler