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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


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.


Join The Conversation
Swedeybebe Swedeybebe 9 years
i used to be super scared of downhills, but i overcame that when riding downhill on 101 in southern CA (not sure exact location?) right before hitting the coastline.... SCARY... but i figured if i did that with no problems, then i can do ANY downhill with no problems!
Lynne Lynne 9 years
I love the wind when I'm hot from biking!! I actually only apply one brake to start, so as not to flip over my bike. Then I'll apply the other one.
runfaster runfaster 9 years
I love the rush you get going downhill. my toes are tingling just thinking about it.
Knight-Who-Says-Ni Knight-Who-Says-Ni 9 years
Biking downhill is SUCH a rush. I admit I'd be nervous on those San Francisco descents, though - too much activity on the road for high speeds.
cvandoorn cvandoorn 9 years
Going downhill in a straight line is fine...but going downhill on curvy mountain roads...forget it. It still freaks me out. Especially when there are huge SUV's driving by and there technically isn't a bike lane. I usually feather my brakes the whole time on those. It also helps to keep your body relaxed and low during those turns, otherwise for sure i'd lose my balance and crash. It also helps to move your weight back a bit to balance out your bike. Also, some bikes are just 'shakier' than others, even with the wheels trued, and this can be a pretty scary thing going downhill. Just put your knees against the top tube to stabilize your bike.
NatureMadeLisa NatureMadeLisa 9 years
Thanks for sharing! I always feel a bit out of control when I'm going really fast, but these tips seem to help. Also, the more I ride the more comfortable and in-control I feel, so that always helps me.
darkoblivion darkoblivion 9 years
I love going downhill! I lived on a huge hill when I was a kid and rode down that hill on my bike at least 10 times a day! Going back up was hard though!
fizzymartini fizzymartini 9 years
I used to have to cycle to a weekly team practice, which took place in a hall at the top of THE most ridiculous, virtually vertical road. In the middle of a town! Getting up was a killer - a year on, and I still had to get off and walk the bike halfway up - but man, how I loved the ride back down. Had to watch out for oncoming cars though, which sometimes spoilt the rush!
Allytta Allytta 9 years
how can anyone hate it? i crashed my bike twice riding downhill with turns and broke it complitely. but i still love it. i was going 35m/h and it's so freeing and amazing.
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