Help with descents

idbrian

Crotch Rot
So i enjoy riding techy XC. I feel i do well on techy climbs and the flat short ups and downs. But i am horrible at descents. Most of my accidents, some bad, are on techy descents, which i'm sure is not unrelated to a fear i have for them. Most riding positions came to me naturally, but getting behind the saddle is a struggle for me. I know i am suppose to get way back there but it just feels so awkward. Even though i keep telling myself to stay behind the saddle out of instinct i shift forward when i hit rough spots. Also when i get back there i tend to ride the brakes and slow my descents to speeds that are slowly dangerous when hitting rough stuff.

I'm not so savvy about bike geometry, but i feel that maybe some bike changes would help me. I currently ride an '05 Trance, with the stock Rock Shox Duke XC up front. I am looking into a bike with some more travel (5-6") so i can have a larger fork upfront. Is there something with bike angles that can help me with this or is this just a fear problem? A bike shop i frequent, Peirmont, suggested a shock with more travel upfront which will angle the bike back. He said it helped him with descents. It would also accommodate the higher travel bike i plan on getting in the future.

I would really like to master the Sourlands, Blue Mountain type of riding. Any suggestion? I know i have to overcome the fear, i'm just wondering if there are some changes i can make to my ride to make it more easier.

Thanks.
 

clarkenstein

JORBA Money Launderer
JORBA.ORG
slacker head angles in the bike geometry help with descents... speed does too.

i'm far from a good technical rider, i have to learn a lot and go through lots of trial and error to progress. i have had issues at the sourlands myself, especially on some of the steeper descents, and i have found that trying to put my chin on the seat and increasing speed have helped tremendously for me. the faster i have let myself go, the better my descending skills have gotten.

if you commit to getting behind the saddle, butt to the tire and chin to the seat (obviously, not that far, but 'try' to get there) you might find it helps.

before you buy something to fix the issue, try to borrow someones ride who has a slack HA on the bike, or maybe even a slightly smaller frame (so you can move it around easier underneath you so you can behind the seat easier) so you can get the feel for what you may want try...

also, dont be afraid to get behind your saddle on not so steep things to practice - you might become more comfortable with the feeling of being back there if you dont feel like you'll lose your teeth everytime you do it. so give it a shot on a downhill you know you can hit well.
 

stb222

Love Drunk
Jerk Squad
Having rode your exact bike for a few years, I think this is more of a skills/fear issue with descending. You can put a 5" fork on your current bike and it will change the angles to make it feel more stable and less twitchy (not that the Trance feel twitchy with a 4" fork) when going downhill. I ran both a 4" and 5" fork on the trance and liked both. Always keep in mind that you just need to lift your front wheel a tiny bit to clear most obstacles and just stay back. Look far ahead on the trail and try to anticipate as much as possible, a tough task at sourlands though but you'll get there!
 

BiknBen

Well-Known Member
idbrian said:
i'm just wondering if there are some changes i can make to my ride to make it more easier.

It's not about the bike. Regardless of the amount of travel, you have to distribute your weight appropriately on the bike when descending. This will often require you to get way back and off the seat. You know it is steep when you feel the seat in your belly. ;)

42-16449762.jpg
 

THATmanMANNY

Well-Known Member
Just Don't Think!

JUST DON'T THINK and let the bike roll.

That's how I got over my fear. I hardly even hover over my brake levers anymore. I just hold on tight to my grips, get my ass off the seat, let my bike get to work and adapt to terrain by positioning my body and pedals and LOOK AHEAD!

It sounds like a lot but like I said... DON'T THINK!

The slower you go the more likely you will fall if you hit a big hole or such.

If you plan on changing your fork and you ride a full suspension, plan to match you're rear travel with the front. If you ride a HT like me then, just don't go for a way longer travel fork cause it will mess up the geometry of your bike and the ride it was designed for.
 

idbrian

Crotch Rot
I know it is primarily a fear i have to get over. Mainly because i go riding with a friend who has an entry level hardtail with crap components and he rides the stuff i'm afraid of with ease.

I guess i'm just hoping to hear that there is something that can make it easier for me. Because while i've made many riding improvements over the years this is something that i've had little improvement on.

I took a pretty nasty endo at Blue Mountain on a descent a few weeks back and it has really shook'n me up since. I will keep practicing.
 

elzoller

El Guac-Oh
Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. I sense much fear in you. ...
yoda6.jpg


Just stay off the saddle!! Slide your ass back....Practice Practice Practice..
you'll get there...
...you just have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best ;)
 

MixMastaMM

Team Bulldog Rider
Try lowering your seat a bit. 1/2 inch at most. It will help you get back on the bike. Also try just rolling around on the grass with your butt off of the seat. It will help you figure out what the position feels like.
 

Madness

New Member
As everybody else has said the key is to stay in the back seat and let the bike do it's job. The suspension will work in your favor if you let it on a decent, you just can't fight it by trying to center yourself or not getting in the correct body position for the decent. I would highly reccomend getting a different fork as well. I ran that fork on my Trek 8000 Hardtail for a while and that was the only weekness the bike had. That fork is nowhere near up to par with the other forks in that same price range at the time. I had nothing but trouble with that fork and I look into getting something else with maybe a little more travel and better insides. Rockshox has made a huge leap in quality since that fork was out and as you can see that fork wasn't carried over. I am currently riding a Fox Talas RLC on my new rig but you don't need to spend anywhere near that much to get a great fork. I know that Rockshox has been spitting out some really good forks since the Duke, including the Reba or the Recon. I would look into something like the Reba or even a Fox Vanilla if you don't want to spend stupid money. You have a great bike you just might want to look at some upgrades and I would start with that fork.

And Remember Face Down Ass Up(and Back)!!!!!!!
 
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J-Dro

Well-Known Member
The only thing I will add to whats already been said is to make sure you keep loose. What I mean by that is keep your elbows and knees bent and relaxed. When I was getting beat up by the Sourlands on a regular basis, I realized that I was locking up my arms and getting stiff on the steep descents. And I know its counter to what you brain is telling you, but don't use too much brake. You should control your speed but avoid going into a skid.

Lower the seat, keep your weight back, stay loose.
 

ArmyOfNone

Well-Known Member
I learned that using as little front brake as possible helps to keep you rolling over things and the bike under control. I stopped going OTB (well less frequently) when i figured this out.
 

Norm

Mayor McCheese
Team MTBNJ Halter's
And I know its counter to what you brain is telling you, but don't use too much brake.

To further this, when you feel like you're on the edge of going OTB, let go of the brakes entirely and try to ride it out. Often times you cause the OTB by using that front brake too much and asking the front tire to get stuck when all it wants to do is roll over stuff.
 

idbrian

Crotch Rot
mtbdawgjeff, mentioned staying loose and a few of you have mentioned seat height. I don't think i feel loose when back there and that could be a problem. I i feel like there isn't much room for me to get back there. I wear baggies, but the baggies fit correctly. I keep the seat up high as i thought i was taught to by the bike shop. Shouldn't the seat be high so that my leg isn't bent at the bottom of my stroke? When i get behind the seat i feel like my arms are stretched to capacity and i'm still not super low. I'm brushing the seat when i go back and come back up and it makes me nervous.

I have fooled around with lowering the seat when i know i'm going to be doing a long DH run, like at Sourlands. But is it normal in XC to be constantly adjusting your seat?

I'm 6' i ride a large. Could it be possible that my Large is too big? I feel comfortable on the bike in most other situations.
 

clarkenstein

JORBA Money Launderer
JORBA.ORG
I have fooled around with lowering the seat when i know i'm going to be doing a long DH run, like at Sourlands. But is it normal in XC to be constantly adjusting your seat?

I'm 6' i ride a large. Could it be possible that my Large is too big? I feel comfortable on the bike in most other situations.


i know and ride with guys who drop their seats. some even have posts that quickly adjust just for that, they even have posts that have a trigger on your handlebars, so your seat drops with a flick of a finger.

but it sounds like you are suffering from something a taller rider would feel - being a little topheavy - i know the feeling. are you on a 29er? if not... i think i know the problem you might have... based on your observations you are showing symptoms of 'idonthaveatwentynineritis'. nasty stuff. :D

do you have a real long stem? maybe you could get a shorter stem, and shorten up the cockpit a little... cheaper than a fork... but after going through what i have gone through with bikes, unless the bike is TOTALLY wrong in size and fit, you should be able to ride what you got unless you are talking real extreme terrain. you generally don't have to buy something to ride better, unless you're talking riding DH/FR on a hybrid...
 

BiknBen

Well-Known Member
mtbdawgjeff, mentioned staying loose and a few of you have mentioned seat height. I don't think i feel loose when back there and that could be a problem. I i feel like there isn't much room for me to get back there. I wear baggies, but the baggies fit correctly. I keep the seat up high as i thought i was taught to by the bike shop. Shouldn't the seat be high so that my leg isn't bent at the bottom of my stroke? When i get behind the seat i feel like my arms are stretched to capacity and I'm still not super low. I'm brushing the seat when i go back and come back up and it makes me nervous.

I have fooled around with lowering the seat when i know I'm going to be doing a long DH run, like at Sourlands. But is it normal in XC to be constantly adjusting your seat?

I'm 6' i ride a large. Could it be possible that my Large is too big? I feel comfortable on the bike in most other situations.

While a lower saddle may make descending easier, it is not the answer. Your saddle height should be determined by your leg length. We don't want to hear from you in six months because your knees hurt.

It is not common for XC types to adjust seat height for descents. I'm sure it is done but it's not common.

You should be able to get behind the seat while still having a bend at your knees and elbows. Look at the picture I posted earlier in the thread. It was just a random pic I got off the web but the rider's position look good.

If your problem isn't simple lack of technique, than it may be improper fit. If you are too stretched out on the bike, getting off the back of the seat will be more difficult. This improper fit could be caused by the saddle being too far back or the stem being too long. If it is a stock Trance than I doubt it is the stem length.

The type of seat you have could also influence this. A narrow saddle makes it easier to get behind and back onto. Also, a saddle that is nose down/tail up could be harder to move around on.
 

walter

Fourth Party
Just to throw another idea into the mix, could it be possible that improper suspension set up could be something thats giving him some issues?
 

idbrian

Crotch Rot
What improper suspension could that be?

I really know little about suspension other than travel length and rebound. The bike is stock so the current shocks are set to match.
 

clarkenstein

JORBA Money Launderer
JORBA.ORG
Just to throw another idea into the mix, could it be possible that improper suspension set up could be something thats giving him some issues?

maybe the pressure settings are too soft in the fork creating some fork dive issues?
 

pixychick

JORBA: Ringwood
JORBA.ORG
I have to agree with Ben on the saddle height too. A lower saddle could help you out for specific drop, but could mess you up for the long haul. Bike fit should also be checked. And as mtbdawgjeff said, staying relaxed in the joints will translate to a smoother more controlled ride. However I would add that you need to stay relaxed with braking, and modulate individually. The death grip will take you down.

Interesting enough, no one mentioned anything about the fear. Fear being what keeps us alive, can also hold us back as well. Some mental technique could help. When I am afraid, I visualize in my head what the skill looks like as when done by a pro. Ben's picture looked good. Then I visualize what it would feel like if I did it with confidence. I visualize every aspect of the skill, behind the saddle, the soft hands, even a smile on my face. The mental preparation helps keep me relaxed as well. I start with a smaller example first and work up. Always keeping these thoughts first in my head before attempting the skill. I may balk a few times, but when I do it, I usually get it right the first or second time.
 

olegbabich

Well-Known Member
You have to embrace that “oh my god I’m going to die” feeling. Use the force and “do or do not, there is no try”.
 
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