Downhills especially on loose surface can be scary. But also a lot of fun!

So recently at the expo at Dirty Kanza the Friday before the race I ran into Jayson O’Mahoney who is The Gravel Cyclist. One of the first people I have known to create such an incredible following for all things gravel from a blog. He is a great person and has a lot of experience. If you don’t follow him, you should. We were chatting and he asked me if he could record me giving some tips on descending on gravel. I chuckled because out of everything cycling, descending is probably way down the totem pole on my list of skills. I know what to do, however doing it correctly can sometimes be tricky. Here is a link to his video and tips on descending on gravel.

Descending down Powerline at the Leadville 100. If I look comfortable, I am not!

One of my first endurance Mountain Bike Races was the Leadville 100. Probably some of the scariest descending around with a lot of people around. As MTB was my last type of cycling to pick up when I got in the lottery for Leadville, I didn’t even own a Mountain Bike! Time to start practicing. I figured I better learn from the best and signed up for the Leadville camp which had folks like Rebecca Rusch and Dave Wiens as the guides. Well Day 1 we started riding and went down some hills. Dave Wiens must have seen “newbie” written all over my face and he quietly came up to me and said “how do you feel about your descending skills? and would you like some help?” Yes, Yes and yes please! So off we go to descend down power line. I was so nervous, we would take a little section at a time and I would follow his line and he gave me great tips on how and when to brake. Of course right after he takes off on the first section I promptly find a big ravine and crash right into it. Well, now that was out of the way, I could relax a little and honestly those tips he gave me helped me to finish the race that year. So my tip on one of the best ways to learn? Go with someone who has experience and let them help you find the lines and practice.

Here I am following one of the best in the business, Rebecca Rusch on a remote trail in Laos. Sometimes she would make me go first so she could give me tips!
Photo by Adventure Scout Media

With about 5 years experience of riding gravel now under my belt. Descending is getting easier and more fun. So check out the tips in the video on good practices for descending, find a friend or mentor who can SHOW you how and help you practice and you will be well on your way to being confident at descending! Oh yeah and get out there and practice!

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