Descending is fun, but it can also be scary. Especially on long, technical descents where you need to concentrate for every twist and turn.
The professional riders like Vincenzo Nibali and Chris Froome make descending look easy, even when they are pushing themselves and taking risks, but descending is a skill which can be honed just like any other.
Sit Up And Beg
Of course, descending doesn't need to be all balls-to-the-wall racing style, you can just cruise down the other side of a climb at an easy, leisurely pace; but you want to go FAST, right?
Whilst sitting up and going slowly might be good enough to get you down the climb, it's not exactly going to be the most exhilarating experience and it certainly won't help you go quicker down the descents on future rides.
Toe The Line
As with motor racing, every corner will have a 'racing line' which is the fastest way through the corner. Whilst in a race situation this involves cutting the corner, this isn't practical for everyday riders who ride on open roads.
There is still gains to be made though on the open roads if you ride smart. Make sure that you are riding through the corner on the inside line where possible, this will reduce the time taken to corner and over a lengthy decent this can take vital seconds off of your time.
The way you position yourself on the bike can have a big effect on the effectiveness of your descent. Whilst we can't all be Chris Froome and use his...unique...descending style, adopting an aerodynamic position will help you shave loads of time off of your descent, this can easily be achieved by simply riding in the drops if you don't want to get too crazy.
Your pedal position through the corner is also key to performing well on descents. Your pedal position is directly linked to your centre of gravity, which plays a part in how the bike handles through a corner. Ensure that the pedal on the outside of the corner is lowered, with the inside one higher - they should be at 6/12 on a clockface. This will make sure your centre of gravity stays central and prevents you from wiping out.
Time Your Effort
It's not all about technique, sometimes you just need power, but that power needs to be put on at the right time. If you're descending on a road with many technical corners then the best time to accelerate is once you are through the halfway point of the turn as you will take advantage of your cornering momentum.
If the descent is long and sweeping with just the odd corner, then a time trial mode if best where you try and maintain a constant power and pace for the entire descent rather than sprinting for 30" then freewheeling.
Brake Smart, Not Hard
Braking is a pretty important part of descending, but braking incorrectly can actually make descents more dangerous. When speed is the key it is very easy to leave braking until the last moment, slamming the brakes on to scrub off all of your speed into the corner.
This increases the potential of you locking your wheels and crashing, especially if the roads are a little greasy. The best way to use your brakes is to anticipate the corner and begin scrubbing off speed before you get to it. Don't lean on the brakes either, apply them gently as you approach the corner and consistently to gradually reduce your speed, which allows you to keep momentum through the corner.
Follow all of these tips and you'll see your descending improve in no time! Why not shave off even more seconds by treating yourself to a new, lighter bike? The Scott Foil 10 is a lightweight racing machine that provides a stiffness that will help your cornering as well as sprinting out of them.