Elite level racer Joe Rafferty heads up his own coaching business, Pro Ride, and has been passing on his expertise to riders for over 10 years as a full-time skills coach. Here, he shares his top 5 tips to help you get your position, speed and line sorted to stay in control on loose descents.
1. Get your body position right
Keep your chin up and look far ahead. Drop your heels to help keep your weight over the bottom bracket and make it easier to maintain balance if your front or rear wheel momentarily loses grip and the bike starts to drift.
2. Lean the bike
Lean the bike underneath you to corner, using your hips to turn it. Don’t lean with the bike as you would in a berm because you’ll push the tyres away from your centre of gravity and lose grip.
3. Use both brakes
Never use the front or the rear brake on its own. Apply both brakes gradually together, then use slightly more rear brake to avoid your front tyre drifting if it’s really loose.
4. Check your speed
Keep your speed in check, because the last thing you want to have to do is brake aggressively where there’s no braking traction. Avoid skidding or using the front brake too much because it can cause the bike to wash out from underneath you.
5. Look for traction
If the descent is wide, look for the best traction to brake and turn. This is usually on the worn line, which has been cleared of gravel by other riders. Drifting too far out on a loose turn will change your level of grip and cause you to lose balance.