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By triathletes for triathletes: descents

The first in our By Triathletes For Triathletes series sees the world’s best off-road triathlete ever, Bikebox’s own Sam Gardner, share tips on how to descend like a winner.

Relax
Sure, this is easier said than done when you’re flying down a hill at close to XXkph, but relaxing into those downhills – particularly through the arms and shoulders – will enable you to absorb the lumps and bumps of the road far more efficiently, leaving the bike to move smoothly (and quickly) along the terrain.

Focus
We mean this literally. From potholes and manholes to tight corners and slippy patches, keeping a keen eye on what’s coming up allows you to prepare appropriately – for example, changing your line, avoiding other riders or adjusting your body shape.

Tuck in
It’s pretty obvious but perfecting your downhill body shape could give you the edge on your fellow competitors. Switch your grip to the lower handlebar drop (which will help you balance better), tuck in your elbows and keep your torso as low down to the top tube as possible for minimum air/wind resistance.

Corner wisely
With a large number of you entering and exiting corners at top speed, it’s vital that you get your line right. Looking ahead and anticipating bends will really help you in this respect. You want to be entering a left-hand corner as far to the right side of the road as you can get. You can then manoeuvre across to the left side at the apex of the bend, then swing back out to the left as you exit. But please be mindful of other riders.

Slow down
This might seem counterintuitive but it’s important to know when it’s time to take the edge off your speed. But that doesn’t mean slamming on the brakes. Use your body alignment to take the wind out of your sails by lifting your torso, switching your grip to the top or sticking out your elbows and knees.