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TriK's picture
Joined: Sep 24 2007
Posts: 4
How to overcome the fear of downhills ?

Hi, First thing to mention, I just started Triathlon training this year. I have a lots of catch up to do on swimming and biking, but the bike seems to be my worst enemy. I am very scared of downhills especially when the road is turning, I feel I cannot control my bike and the speed. My arms lock and I am tense like a wood board. I am amazed when people are passing me flying on a downhill when I must use breaks. It may be a beginner's fear that I am hoping will go away after I ride tons of miles ... I was wondering if you have any advice how to improve confidence ?

Thank you !

tri-ac's picture
Joined: Dec 7 2005
Posts: 3717

don't force yourself to do anything you're not ready to do.

consider riding with friends (and tell them your fear). they will slow down a little for you, and the group inertia may allow you to go a little faster without thinking so much about it. before you know it, they won't be slowing down for you anymore.

Tikal Dog's picture
Joined: Feb 4 2005
Posts: 1028

Hi TriK.

My wife had this same problem when she started. And she did nothing about it.... she just rode and when a downhill appeared she just used her brakes. After time passed by she got more confident with her bike, improved her bike handling skills and stopped breaking on easy downhills. Before she even noticed it she was not breaking in big downhills.

It´s only a matter of time, you have to ride and ride until you really feel you have become one with your bike. Everything else will fall into place after that (or more.....during that process)

RV
RV's picture
Joined: Jan 19 2005
Posts: 3419

Time will certainly help. Just take it slowly to build your confidence with your bike handling skills.

Riding with others may help - assuming riding in a single file and spaced out a bit - riding in a pack can be quite unnerving.

It may be quite helpful watching the line that others take going into the curves and trying to emulate that - but at your own pace.
Braking easy as you enter and then accelerate out of the curve gives you more control.

Iron Dan's picture
Joined: May 16 2007
Posts: 672

I totally agree with Tikal and Tri-ac that it is a matter of comfort on your bike. The more you practice and ride downhills, the more comfortable you will get with them. From your post it sounds like you are very new to biking, at least competitively, give it time and you will be flying down the hills before you know it.

Triguy98's picture
Joined: Apr 10 2005
Posts: 3108

I've said it often before, and I'll say it again- get a mountain bike. It will do wonders for your handling skills, confidence, and AeT! After learning shifting weight, proper cornering technique, etc on the dirt, it is much easier on the pavement. After my winter MTB season, my tri bike feels like a razor.

TriOnLife's picture
Joined: Dec 7 2006
Posts: 201

[QUOTE=TriK;80575]I am very scared of downhills especially when the road is turning, I feel I cannot control my bike and the speed.
Thank you ![/QUOTE]

I am sort of the same way. When I first started biking, going 25 mph down hill scared me to death. I'm up to 30 or so now. Just keep riding and your confidence will build. Riding in groups is great for a lot of reasons so I recommend that, too. Mostly you just get more experience and that gives you more confidence.

UFTriGator's picture
Joined: Mar 22 2006
Posts: 1249

Following someone who knows what they're doing helped me a ton. I found that when someone was going a certain speed or leaning their bike X degrees in a corner it was a lot easier for me to do it too. I had no idea it was possible to lean a bike as far as I can now until I did my first crit and had to follow everyone into the corner at the same speed. I thought I was going to need to change my chamois at the end, but each turn got easier and easier. I think that once you hit a certain speed or degree of cornering, it's not hard to do it again once you know that you [I]can[/I] handle it.

TriK's picture
Joined: Sep 24 2007
Posts: 4

Thank you so much for your replys. It is all great pieces of information I will keep in mind, [QUOTE]It may be quite helpful watching the line that others take going into the curves and trying to emulate that - but at your own pace.
Braking easy as you enter and then accelerate out of the curve gives you more control.[/QUOTE] I am glad to hear your encouragement that with more training it will help and that it is not some sort of phobia. I may just be too impatient.

So far I was always riding alone so I will definitely try to ride in a group.

PJT
PJT's picture
Joined: Aug 16 2005
Posts: 1513

I know it's counterintuitive, but try to relax on descents. When you have a death grip on the handlebars, you make it harder to make fine adjustments in your handling. You may also contribute to bike shimmy or wobble, which are no fun.

Gary3's picture
Joined: Sep 5 2007
Posts: 151

I had a bad bike crash going downhill at 42.2 MPH some time back and I was out for 3 months. I know it was 42.2 because that was the last image on the computer before the wipeout. The next year I went back to the same course and did the same downhill to over come my fears. After some other down hills my fear was finally conquered, but it did take some time. When you are going down hill at a rapid rate of speed, feather the brakes and keep balanced and after a while you will feel much more relaxed when descending.

danpatgal's picture
Joined: Aug 22 2007
Posts: 122

Just a follow up question ... I ride a road bike and as aero as I can get in the drops, I still have my hands on the brakes for feathering/adjusting. This is nice and it means that generally I delight in the speed going downhills, even with slight turns and such.

I don't have a tri bike yet (I'm planning on getting one this winter sometime), but I guess that you should be in the aero position to maximize speed ... but that puts your hands away from the brakes, reducing control. Is there some middleground or techniques to allay this fear or just something, as has been posted, that one must get used to?

azstinger11's picture
Joined: Nov 21 2006
Posts: 489

[QUOTE=UFTriGator;80594] I thought I was going to need to change my chamois at the end[/QUOTE]

I snorted my coffee:p

I'm not sure if its confidence or stupidity but generally I just try and go as fast as I think I can down downhills, if that means 55 with leaning then great if that means 25 so be it. But defiantly only do what your ok with and don't let others set your pace for you.

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