How To: Descend safely in a group

How To Video


Going downhill is one thing. Going downhill in a group another. All the usual rules apply: get in a tuck, do your braking before the turn, aim for the apex. But on top of that you need to be aware of the riders around you and take a few special precautions.

  • Stay Aware: Sounds simple enough, but it’s exceptionally important. Always be scanning for potholes, sand, and other obstacles — and keep an eye on what those around you are up to. You don’t want to get taken out by someone who’s not paying attention or over-cooks a turn and slides out.
  • Leave a Gap: No drafting wheel-to-wheel drafting. Instead leave at least 7-8 bike lengths between you and the rider in front of you. If it’s wet bump it to 10. This should leave you enough time to react if something goes wrong.
  • Pass Politely: Just like you don’t like getting buzzed by cars, your fellow cyclist doesn’t want to be buzzed by you. When passing on a descent leave at least three feet between you and the rider you’re passing.
  • Watch and Learn: One of the best ways to improve your cornering skills is to mimic the actions of skilled descenders. Mimic their body position and follow their line in and out of turns.
  • Look Where You Want To Go: Perhaps the most important rule of them all. Simply put your bike will go where you look. Don’t focus on the cliff on the side of the road. Aim your attention to the smooth line through a turn or around that crack in the road.
  • Communicate: Just as you would on the flats, talk to your fellow riders, pointing out hazards.
  • Know Your Limits: Unless your friends call you target=”_blank”>Il Falco, don’t throw caution to the wind just to chase a Strava descent KoM.

See all the How To Articles. For more descending tips, check out this video from the Global Cycling Network.

About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Tour de France, the Olympic Games, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner, who joined the / staff in 2013, has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying time with his wife Lisa and daughter Cora.

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