In the collective imagination, the kings of the mountain are above all climbers, tapered aesthetes able to climb the steepest passes in Europe with an air pedal stroke. It’s a bit of a quick thing to forget that after the ascent, an equally important part of the hill climb is the descent, an exercise combining technical dexterity, mental solidity, and thrills. In the history of cycling, they have carried their share of dramas – Fabio Casartelli is one of the most famous victims – but also moments of legend, the small cyclo-cross session of Lance Armstrong in the descent of the pass of La Rochette in 2003, for example, remained in the annals.
If the purpose of this article is not to teach you how to cut cross-country laces as Texan did, Anthony Morvan, Breton cycling coach, and UC Quimperloise sports director give you some tips on how to optimize your ride. trajectories but also spare your collarbones and thighs.
The turn is one of the most technical moments in cycling. To negotiate it well, it is necessary to cut the gesture into three distinct periods. First the front, the few meters that precede the curve. The first reflex to have is obvious, but not always well executed: it is necessary to observe the whole turn, which means to analyze the coating, the entry, and the exit if it is visible. From there, you will be able to make the right decision as to the path to adopt. Of course, the latter will be different depending on the configuration. If you drive in a group, it is better to keep your trajectory, even if it is not optimal. Thus, one is sure to keep his line and avoid making everyone fall. When one is alone, one is freer to adopt the closest curve.
From the beginning of the descent, you must test your brakes to fully understand their responsiveness. Pre-turn is the crucial moment of braking, the one where you modulate your speed so you do not have to touch the brakes in the turn. It is very dangerous to break in the curve, it increases the chances of slipping and falling as the bike is leaning. It is also necessary to think of braking mainly forward, it is the most effective. In general, it is recommended to brake at 70% of the front and 30% of the rear. Provided they are well adjusted obviously, otherwise, we risk to make a sun.
Taking the rope
Then comes the most technical moment, the one where we take the curve. The rule of thumb is this: you have to take the widest possible trajectory at the entrance of the turn to tack rope and then regain maximum speed at the exit. To negotiate this rope, it is necessary to keep the gaze high and ideally to fix the exit of the turn. If you are in a group, you still have to keep an eye on the one in front of you, because if it takes a wrong path, we must remain vigilant not to do the same. Then, beware of the coating, avoid the corners, because it is the moment when one is most likely to skid.
It is also necessary to keep the pedal as high as possible inside the bend. If it is too low, it can hit the ground and raise the rear wheel at the same time … It can also take off the foot inside Moto GP way, but without it touching the ground, of course, should not be caught for Marc Màrquez either! In the same way, you have to stick to the ground inwards to ensure maximum stability, while keeping your hands down, your fingers on the brakes, and especially not to get up too early, otherwise we pull the outward path. If it is necessary to break, it is better to do it from behind, because, at this moment, I let you imagine what happens if we do it on the road … On the open road, if we are preceded by a biker, do not hesitate to identify with him, in its path and when it starts braking. This is a very useful reference that is used by the pros in the peloton.
Because we must consider this scenario, in case of a fall, we must always focus on the impact on the hands (assuming we wear gloves). It will always be better to fall on the hands than on the elbow, or worse, on the shoulder. When that happens, we really have no control over what happened. It is also true that we work very little falls, it is a blind spot training programs. I regret this, even though I remember a cyclo-club that offered winter Aikido lessons to teach its members not to fall like a dead weight on the road.
To avoid this situation, it is important to understand that the technique of turning has a primordial mental aspect. Ideally, you have to be offensive and focused to attack the turns. As soon as you take them in slow motion, when you are tense and apprehension takes precedence over concentration, this is where the falls occur. To train to turn well, it is enough to have the blocks on a parking lot to create turns more or less wide or tight, which makes it possible to learn to manage different types of trajectories. It also allows learning to turn left, unlike the road, it is always right.
To overcome this mental barrier of apprehension is above all experience and self-confidence. We can take the example of Pinot who turned very badly. Eventually, he realized he was afraid of speed in a straight line. He did internships in F1-OK cars, not everyone can afford it – but it worked.
If the trajectory is ideal, the speed is preserved. It is, therefore, a good position for the next trajectory, it is sometimes useless to revive like crazy if you have to brake 30 meters away. Then you have to calibrate your gear. If you come out on a false flat up and you’re right, the raise is going to be difficult and you risk losing much of the speed that you managed to keep. QED.