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Learn to Love: Riding Downhill


I have been cycling with a pack of women lately and was relieved to find out that I was not the only adult afraid of riding downhill. Although my 5-year-old hates the small build up of speed on the decline, I knew there was joy to be found in racing down hills.

The first thing to learning to love riding downhill is to simply ride downhill; you have to get comfortable to the speed of the descent by actually riding downhill. Learning to feather your brakes – applying the brakes gently and slowly increasing the pressure, then releasing the pressure a bit and repeating until you are at a speed you're comfortable with – will certainly increase your comfort level too. Of course, you need to apply both brakes simultaneously. Also, one simple way to slow yourself down is to sit up; your body will create resistance and naturally decrease your speed.

For another simple tip

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You also want to shift your weight back and not put too much weight into your handlebars, a common mistake. Don't forget to keep scanning the road in front of you for potholes and other obstacles that could disrupt your ride (I know that sounds a little euphemistic, but since we are learning to love the act of riding downhill there are certain words I want to avoid).

What truly shifted my fear of riding downhill into love was my competitive nature. After working hard to passing people on the incline, I would be passed by speed demons on the descent. This just killed me and pushed me to give into gravity and love riding downhill.

Fit's Tip: If you still feel shaking after practicing descents, try getting your wheels "trued." If your wheels are off, they will make your bike feel more wobbly. A sensation no one wants when speeding downhill.

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