Self Reflection: 22 Things I Notice About My Descending

  1. I love it

  2. And I always want to enjoy it

  3. I want to enjoy it, especially in relation to the climbing that has usually preceded it

  4. My intention is safety as a foundational given, and performance as the goal – I practice viewing and achieving these priorities, as one

  5. Performance for me is indicated by speed, flow, enjoyment, deep presence, being very sensitive in my body, total time taken, efficiency of effort, and smoothness

  6. I choose to see it as a surfing-based flow activity (surfing's my favourite thing to do)

  7. Sometimes I'm deliberate with my outside straighter leg weighting, sometimes not

  8. Overall I'm always trying to go faster with more flow

  9. Though I've never lacked confidence on descents (only skill and experience), my recent new bike change has me feeling better – lower to the ground and better front to back balance over my bike

  10. I use as much of the road as I can within safety, respect and legal constraints - I draw better lines that way

  11. The further I can look ahead, I do – not just in and out of a bend, but to the road below a switchback or further ahead for example – I'm taking in as much relevant information as possible

  12. I'm improving the balance of confidence in my ability with the risk of unexpected random things outside of my control eg. A pothole in a shadow, a kangaroo hopping out of the bush, a parked car on a blind corner, aggressive drivers etc.

  13. I keep my body relaxed and soft – when it's a bit bumpy I lift off the saddle a little and let the drops rattle around ever so slightly within my grip – overall I let the bike jump around as it needs to, rather than my body and eyesight being bounced

  14. There are times when I cruise without pushing it, times when I look for flow, and times when I go for top end speed (usually when I decide to keep up with someone who has overtaken me - ego)

  15. I practice staying in the fleeting moments of uncertainty, where the thought of slowing down enters ("Do I need to slow down or do I just continue to see what happens?")

  16. The technique of looking where you want to go through a bend rather than right ahead of you is a good one and I'm unsure how well I do it – I can't tell where I consistently look – Is this automaticity or lack of awareness & skill?

  17. There is an energy cost to descending and so a good descent performance includes efficiency of energy output as well

  18. The rough surfaces and bumps we have on Australian roads mean that I'm glad for strong wheels rather than weight-weenie, light, aero ones that may damage more easily

  19. It always good to descend with someone a bit better than me – stimulates me to explore and develop further

  20. The two best descents I've had so far were both in Italy in 2015. Down Passo Gaiu 7 hours into the Maratona Dles Dolomites event, and Passo Stelvio dropping into Switzerland. Both 25 kms of smooth road, flowing bends, spectacular scenery, great friends and respectful road users

  21. Here in Melbourne when I descend the very moderate 1 in 20 climb, I practice not touching the brakes for the whole descent, and fully feeling the rubber of my tires in contact with the road during bends

  22. Seeing myself on video would add to my awareness of how I descend, and the learning for future developmental opportunities