The Col Collective

Descending Techniques

Relating to Mallorca, please can you suggest routes there that would be good training for L'Étape? And also offer some guidance / tips on building confidence for reasonably (!) fast descents / cornering? - Justin.

Hi Justin, if you’re heading to Mallorca then you may want to camp out around Port de Pollenca so you’re in close proximity to the climbs. The map to get (see attached photo) is from the bike shop called SportBequi in Port d’Alcudia, they have done an awesome job of highlighting the cycling friendly roads and also plotted a load of routes of varying distances and elevation. Very useful indeed. If you’re training for Etape then the order of the day will be to ride some climbs. To be honest consistent back-to-back days in the saddle riding mountains will be a huge benefit but always listen to your body and don’t forget that recovery is the most important part of training.

When it comes to descending here are a few tips that we hope will help. As is the case with water naturally finding it’s way down the side of a mountain the same could be said about a good descender. Think of your body and bike as one, try to stay light on the pedals and allow your bike to lead as you give delicate inputs. Position your hands on the drops to lower your centre of gravity and bring more stability and control.

Look where you want to go. Now this may sound pretty obvious but the fact is where you look will generally dictate where you end up so it’s important to focus your attention a lot further down the road than the rear wheel or rider in front that you’re following at speed. Look beyond the bend at the path you wish to take. Having a broader view of the road ahead will allow you to quickly react to things as they happen, such as a rider switching lines for example, allowing time to adjust accordingly. Your peripheral vision will still be able to spot a pot hole or patch of gravel but by looking further ahead you’ll be one step ahead at all times.

Getting through the corners quickly and safely is a key skill to acquire when descending. Moderate your speed in advance of the bend as opposed to entering the corner too quickly and having to jam on the brakes at the last minute. This will give you more control and allow you to carry momentum throughout the turn. Keep your outside leg straight and focus the majority of your body weight downwards through the outside pedal to maintain rigidity as you hold your line. To maintain traction it’s important to lean your bike and not your body. Start slowly and practice until you have confidence in your descending ability in all conditions especially in the wet when traction is much less.

I put a video together many moons ago, the footage is pretty low res now but the info is still valid. Could be helpful you can watch it here

Stay well and ride safe.


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