The Descent

30
Sep
2014
Descending Cameron Highlands

Descending Cameron Highlands

On this morning’s hammerfest, between feeling like I was going to be sick or pass out, I thought about how well, or not, I’m doing on the bike. When I first started riding with these guys, I could barely stay with them for a kilometer before I was spat out the back. Now I can stay with the pack until the next town before it’s solo ride time. One thing that hasn’t changed, which can be good or bad, is my ability to go downhill on a road bike.

I’ve never been a great climber. Sure I can power up short, steep little things, or if I find the right groove I can spin up something gradual, but almost always I am the slowest climber. I’m just not built for climbing and I’d rather lead the train out on a flat road or dabble in some sprinting. Downhill is a different story. When I was first getting into road cycling, 14 years ago (at age 14), to do any ride over ten miles, I had to go downhill. My parents still live on top of the same mountain, and though not steep or winding, it made me learn bike handling skills, especially at 30 mph on a bike that was a tad too big.

I always try to make the joke, generally while laboring uphill and getting dropped, that the only reason I climb anything is to enjoy the ride down it. In my past post about Interstate, the best riding I’ve ever done was down Fraser Hill, only to be outdone by the Cameron Highlands descent the next day. Needless to say, I love descending on a road bike, and I’m actually not bad at it.

In thinking about this today, I figured the reason I’m good at descending is not that I’m unaware of the dangers, or that I don’t care about falling. Instead, it’s because I have complete confidence in my ability on the bike and in handling any situation. I’ve put so many miles, kilometers, hours on my road bike that I know a slight shift in my hips will bring me right around a pothole I’m coming up on. I know the roads around here well enough now that most corners I don’t bother with brakes, or I know, instinctively, just how much brake to apply. And, riding CX and mountain bike has improved my overall handling skills, and I wish more people would do the same. If there was anything people should work on while riding, it’s learning how to handle their bike.

It always boggles my mind when others don’t or can’t ride like that. They’re afraid of falling, of crashing, of something happening to their bike, of other riders. When I ride, especially with the group from today, I know to trust them, trust my bike, trust myself and I never have an issue following a wheel.

It also doesn’t hurt to know the principles behind cornering and where the apex is 😉

Enjoy Your Ride
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