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

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, courtesy of Matt Brett…


It would be really useful to pinpoint exactly why you came off in the first place so that you can then take action to avoid doing the same thing again, rather than continuing to ride with a general fear of descending.

You will probably have ridden downhill thousands of times in the past without trouble, so what was different this time around? Was the road surface wet? Was it gravelly? Were you carrying too much speed into a bend?

Unless it was a freak accident completely outside your control, 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.

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

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.

(Main image: Jonny Gawler)


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