Each time I reach the summit of a big pass, my satisfaction is soon superseded by the realisation that I’m going to have to cycle back down again. Anxiety sets in. Luckily, my Thorn xTc is stable and slow. So far, each time I seem to have misjudged a hairpin, leaning over a little further has got me round the bend. Once or twice, for example while descending to Mazamet from Angles, I’ve even managed to enjoy myself but descending remains a bit of a concern.
That’s why my attention was taken by this article on the website of the Cyclist magazine. As well as covering a couple of topics only relevant to racers, Common cycling fears and how to overcome them gives good advice on how to become a little more courageous while descending.
The author misses one trick. Descending on a mountain bike has helped me to go downhill more rapidly – almost as rapidly as the average cyclist – on a road bike. There is a great deal of noise and movement, even at modest speeds, while descending a stony track on a mountain bike and, quite quickly, this starts to feel normal. Switching back to roads is so much less dramatic, even on Britain’s unimpressive surfaces, that my speed creeps up as I subconsciously search for the new normal.
If you also lack the courage of your more adventurous chums and if you know of a rocky descent where a fall will do nothing more than fire you into a springy bed of heather, have a go at riding down it on a cheap mountain bike. I doubt you would get much psychological benefit from descending on a full suspension bike or from one of the new plus bikes.