Improving the speed, limiting the risk

Crashes do happen, unfortunately, when you ride in a group, in a race, or just anywhere at any time. Very annoying, especially when recovery takes a long time.

Bad luck, or someone else’s fault? Of course there are situations you can not do anything about yourself. But it’s good to see what you can do in order to reduce the chance of a crash. Under room to move, blind curves, cornering technique, downhill runs, you will find points of interest.
Below you will find some crashes, with analysis what the rider could have done better.
Of course, bad luck or fault by some other often plays a role. But focussing on those external things prevents you from learning what you can do yourself to minimize the risks.
As ‘though cyclists’ we often say as someone falls that he is a real cyclist now, with his skin rubbed off. All understandable types of responses, but they do not help to prevent as much as possible the chance of falling. You need to learn from those situations.
See also learning

Crash Kruiswijk (Giro 2016, May 27)

Besides all the emotions and the fact that an accident or a mistake is in a small corner there is of course the question: what could de rider do better?
– Quick switch of attention. If you’re on your limit and happy to be up front and need to eat, on a coll where the descent starts quickly, you can have a high speed before you notice it.
-On the TV images, it seems the curveline of the rider is not correct. Too little outside and too little inside. See: Taking sharp turns. As if doesn’t pay enough attention to the curve. If the turn turns more than you can see beforehand, you have a problem.
– Perhaps the most interesting is the position on the bike. Man and bicycle are vertically in one line (the classical position), with the center of gravity  opf man and bicycle short within the contact line of tires and road. This produces a very slight radius of the curve. Too little to get the right amount of turning.
Possibly, the ‘skiing technique’ could provide better correction posibilities.
It’s a bit more dynamic than the classic technique. You can correct more if your cornering is not perfect. You can push your saddle more a bit more to the inside. The upper body goes out with a lot of pressure on the front wheel, partly inward facing. The center of gravity of body and bike will be slightly lower. The result is a sharper turn. Especially at the end of a curve you can “emphasize” more and thus remain in the curve.
Managing that technique some do automatically, from their talent or from mountain biking experience. If you are not such a lucky bird you will have to train this technique. You have to make hours before it becomes an automatic reflex. It is a technique that is difficult under stress. If you’re upset, you keep your breath, bringing up your position. The center of gravity of body and bike will be higher and closer to the contact line. As a result, you are curving less. The natural reflex if you are started is not the functional reflex. In skating and skiing you have the same phenomenon. Therefore, you need to train the ski technique under (simulated) stress.
Also, knee insertion can provide faster corrections than the classic technique.
However, the center of gravity of the body and the bike must be sufficiently within the contact line. It will however deliver less weight removal and thus correction. Descending can be improved by exercising it a lot. That doen’t come by itself. Because you spend a lot more time riding uphill, Not every curve in the mountains is easy to enter. There is always one that goes wrong. Much more than, for example, in a criterion where you encounter the same turn agaain and again and unconsciously learns how to do it. In the mountains it is important to have a well-trained automatic reflex for the situation when it goes wrong. The skiing technique provides more opportunity for correction than the classic technique.
See also: cornering
See also:

Crash Rojas (Vuelta 2016, stage 20)

A fall apparently out of nowhere.
The fact that others go through the same curve without difficulty indicates that the cause is problably himself.
Possibly braking too much the front wheel? Then the slip and fall away.
Perhaps the upper body a little too much hanging to the inside of the curve? Because of this, there is too little pressure down and especially inward on the front wheel.
See: ski tours

At the rear wheel you get more signals before it’s possible to slip away, not at the front wheel. Additionally, a rear-wheel slip is usually corrected, a front-wheel slip is almost always a fall.
It seems that there is a critical area where the pressure on the front wheel becomes too small with only a little difference in position of the upper body. This risk is bigger with the classical turn technique than with the skiing technique.
If you look at Louis Leon Sanchez in the same stage, you’ll see he has a little V-bend.
It looks like we can not easily feel how close we are to this pressure loss. As for example in aquaplaning when driving a car.
If you can repeat the same curve in a parking space or someplace like that, you can try it out. From classical turning technique to skiing turning technique. The difference in pressure is to feel. Especially when you make it extreme: the classic technique with the shoulders focused inwards and the skiing technique with a V and extreme hanging outwards of the upper body and so more pressure on the outside of the front wheel. You can even feel the difference in pressure when laying your hands on the brake levers or down in the handlebars. But be careful to build up that exercise. 🙂

Crash van Vleuten (Olympic Road Race, Rio August 8, 2016)

Incredibly what a shit. The best in the course, on the way to the gold. And then the fall.
Why? Slippery road? To thee side falling bend? Too much risk? Who will say it?
There is a steering error to be seen on the TV. It was a turn to the right. Before the turn, she ride at the right of the road, in stead of the left site. As a result, she made the curve much harder than if she before the turn had been riding at the left side. Then the turn woud have been much broader. You make an outside-inside-outside line to make the curve as wide as possible. Then you can turn that turn faster, with less chance of getting lost.
Incredible: technical a simple mistake. Too simple for such a good driver? Why? Attention distracted? The cause behind the cause, no idea.

It’s all right that she makes a simple steering error, but this fall is very special. She has to deal with what is called in the (motor) road racing a ‘high-sider’. The rear wheel loses grip and slides to recover grip after about a second. That gives a a hard swerve. You see on the images on her rear wheel sliding, she corrects with steering, then suddenly you do not see the rear wheel sliding, Van Vleuten dives over the wheel and pulls the bike with her. She is already flying over the bicycle before the wall, after the swerve.
You see how useful knowledge is from another discipline to recognize it.

Crash of Piere Rouland (Tour de France 2016, stage 19)
The main reason seems to be that Rouland starts peddeling again too early. His inner pedal hits the ground. This causes the rear wheel to go up (see picture) and therefore loses grip.

Crash of Darwin Atapuma (Vuelta 2016, stage 12)
Http://  At the beginning of the video.
A fall that also seems to come from nothing. Others have no problems at the same place with the same curve. It happens more often, such a fall out of nowhere. You can then look at all kinds of circumstances, pebbles and the like that may be the cause. Perhaps it’s more interesting to look at what you can do to reduce the risk of slipping. I think that another position on the bike in the bend might help.
Darwin Atapuma seems to have got his center of gravity a little too much inside, which makes it easier for the front wheel to slip away from injuries.
Perhaps we are not aware of how fast you don’t have enough pressure on the front wheel. A few centimeters of your upper body more inward and the pressure on the front wheel (to the inside) is already a lot less. With a little disturbance of a pebble or so, it has happens before you know it.
With the skiturn technique – the hip pushing the saddle more inward and upper body slightly more outside – there is more pressure is on the front wheel, also sideways in the direction of the inside of the curve. Therefore, the chance of sliding the front wheel is smaller and you have more opportunity to correct.
(By the way, for the rear wheel it is different. And if the rear wheel is going wrong, you usually have a lot more chance to fix it.)
Crash of Richie Port (Tour de France 2017, stage 9)

What did the rider not do well? Concentration loss? Derivation? Fatigue? Wrong line chosen, far too far left, too tight on the inside bend? Rear wheel in slip pulled inward? Trying to rescue by putting out his, where the center of gravity remained on the wrong side? No ‘unfolding’ the V to make the curve more widespread? More an error of fear than an applied correction reflex.
What a crashes in the descent! Especially the Col du Chat. Was this road not suitable for descending at high speed at the cutting edge for the professional?
For cycling tourists it’s a road where you can not go downhill fast. Steep. New asphalt, which is sometimes more slippery than old asphalt. A little damp here and there. Bumpy asphalt which makes correcting more difficult. Very often, no good view of what can be in the way. If the road is narrow then it becomes tricky. The pros can assume that they can use the whole way. Cycling tourists can not. We have to take into account that we may have to walk after the corner or even go to the side. If you can not see through a bend on such a narrow road, you need to brake well in advance. Very different from a 2 cars or more wide road, where you can count that your road half is available. There you can look much more wide through the bend.
Such a Col du Chat is very suitable for going up a mountain. Downhill, your throw away teh height meters that you gaind with hard work.
See further: ‘Reading the road’
Near Fall of FUGLSANG, Liège – Bastogne – Liège, 2019
Jacob Fuglsang almost crashed while he was well ahead. What went wrong? And why did it still work out?
In addition to all the emotion of the shock, it is good to ask those questions more rationally. You can learn from that, so that in the same kind of situations the chance that you can manage is greater. Usually there is not much attention for that. Calling that it is bad luck that he is slipping and that it is lucky that he will not really fall down will deprive you of that learning opportunity. Fuglsang comes in a rear wheel slip. Ten to one he brakes a little too hard with his rear wheel for the surface on that stretch of road. The wheel does not turn for a moment, the lateral force causes the wheel to break out. His reaction, I guess, is to release the rear brake immediately. The rear wheel starts turning again and gets a grip again. If he continued to hold the rear brake, that would not happen and the rear wheel slid further away. You can practice that release mentally and factually so that it becomes a reflex. Maybe it is only 10% of influence (and the rest is bad luck or lucky), but you can control that 10% yourself and you can practice.
Wet timetrial (Tour de France 2017, stage 1)
This time trial was with wet road and lots of crashes. Timetrial bikes are made for straight riding, not for bends. The fastest tires have slightly less grip (and leakage protection). Even those cyclists who train a lot on the time trial bicycles train much less on that bike than on the regular road bike.
Those who go for the day win must ride at the cutting edge. Those who go for the general ranking may take a lesser risk. The others are allowed to ride on safe. Even they did not succeed fully.
After a long period of dry weather, asphalt can be much more slippery when wet by the gathered junk than when it is often raining.
See the endless sliding of Dylon Groenewegen. https: //  At 1′.30.
How do we drive as a recreation on wet road?
Keep your brakes dry. By regularly braking a little bit. Wet rim brakes need some time to get a grip.
The difference between riding straights and turning is much bigger on wet roads than then on dry the roads. On straight pieces you can ride on wet road almost as fast as when it is dry. It’s scary to some, but it is possible. For the turn you need to calculate a much longer brake path. In a descent this is even more the case.
The bends you ride much slower than in dry weather. You keep your outer leg longer down, start peddeling again later and get out of the saddle later.
You will usually ride a curve not in one nice round line, but divide teh curve into pieces that go more or less straight (where it’s wet
) and rounder (where it’s drier). Look at the white lines on the roads, especialy where it’s that stuffed stuff, pillow covers, train rails and the like. Cross there as far as possible at angle of 90 degrees of and do not brake there.
Especially: Take a greater safety margin than you take in dry conditions. On a wet road you can dapt yourself much less than on a dry road.
In dry conditions, one asphalt is more or less the same as the other. With a lot of hours riding and slowly looking for the boundary of posibilities, you can learn to get close to the maximum possible turning speed. Under wet conditions, gliding risk can vary greatly. Certainly if it’s a little bit wet here, and dry there. If you ride the same course more often as in a criterion then you can adjust to the corners better. If you get a turn only once, that will not work. That’s the case with competitions like the Tour de France almost always. In wet conditions, you have to ride further under the maximum possible than under dry conditions.

Val Darwin Atapuma (Vuelta 2016, 12 etappe)

Aan het begin van het filmpje.
Een val die uit het niets lijkt te komen. Luister naar het commentaar op Eurosport. Anderen hebben op dezelfde plek met dezelfde bochtlijn geen problemen. Het gebeurt vaker, zo’n val uit het niets. Je kan dan kijken naar allerlei toevallige omstandigheden, steentjes en dergelijke, die de oorzaak kunnen zijn. Misschien is het interessanter te kijken naar wat je kan doen om de KANS op wegglijden te verminderen. Ik denk dat een andere houding op de fiets in de bocht zou kunnen schelen.
Zoals Rouland in de Tour de France (zie reactie terug) lijkt Darwin Atapuma zijn gewicht iets te veel naar binnen te hebben waardoor het voorwiel makkelijker kan wegglijden bij een ongerechtigheid.
Misschien zijn we ons niet genoeg bewust van hoe snel je geen tegendruk op het voorwiel meer hebt. Een paar centimeter je bovenlijf meer naar binnen en de tegendruk op het voorwiel is al een heel stuk minder. Met een steentje oid is het dan gebeurd voordat je het in de gaten hebt.
Met de skitechniek – gewicht heup zadel meer naar binnen en bovenlijf iets meer buiten – komt er meer druk op het voorwiel, ook zijwaarts in de richting van de de binnenkant van de bocht. Daardoor is de kans op wegglijden van het voorwiel kleiner en heb je meer gelegenheid te corrigeren.
(Overigens: voor het achterwiel is het weer net even anders. En als het met het achterwiel fout gaat, heb je meestal veel meer kans om te herstellen))

Mindset and groupdynamics

Rage in your belly, cool in your head and compassion in your heart

Cycling is a game of alternating cooperation and competition. In addition, to ride fast you need tap into yourself for the right amount of agression. And aggression does not always go along with being wise and emphatic. So racing in groups gives conflicting demands on your mental attitude.

Before you often think differently than you do during the ride
You’re going to ride a quiet round. But there is a nice group passes. And you hook on. And suddenly you ride a lot harder than you planned to do.
Everyone in the group has heavy legs and wants to take it easy. You know actually: Slowly but surely it will go faster. With the exception of very disciplined racers doing a specific training, most riders in a group will eventually speed up. I too, you too. Under the influence of adrenaline we think differently than at rest. Put on your bike shoes and feel the saddle, then the body says: “Go, go!”
How it works it works, sometimes you do not what you have planned or what is sensible. Your actions are determined not only by your logic brains. The nice thing is that there is a predictability in it. Because of this predictability you can be aware and play with it.

How to deal?
If you know how your mindset changes while riding you can intervene in this action, for example by looking to another, positive way to driving slowly. The picture of slow driving you change from negative: ‘loser’, ‘poor’ or ‘weak’ to positive: ‘recovery’, ‘building up’, ‘a day off’.

Making agreements is wise and tough
In informal groups y
ou can try to make agreements. Where do we ride fast? Are we going to sprint or not? So that we can have a nice competition among us, but in a good place and not a full and busy cycling path for example.
Very wise certainly. But also awfully difficult. You’re not sure whether you yourself want a agreement. Others say that we “just ride a quiet round” and don’t want to talkabout it. You don’t want them to think you are afraid. Moreover, you know that others will respond. While you say you want agree on where you as a group will ride fast, they say: “So, you’re in shape for sure”.
Without an agreement or with an agreement that wil be broken
it means that you as a group will ride full throttle on the wrong places.

Notion of other road users
If you ride with your group a particular route each week in all weathers then you find it annoying when ‘your’ trail on summer days is ‘overtaken’ by ‘good weather’ cyclists.

smalle weg

The trick is to link that to a different positive image c.q. feeling. A word like ‘ fellow road users’ for example has a different effect on your mindset than the word’ other traffic.
A smart mindset is to create even more difficult if it went wrong or allmost wrong. You, for example, are being cut by a car or an E-bike. The adrenaline was already high on the bike and now this. You are frightened and furious.
Quite understandably, emotionally very satisfying :), but usually not so smart.
See also: Dealing with the other road users

Switching your mindset
During a trip you have to be able to switch in mindset. Between rage in your belly, coolness in your head and compassion in your heart.
Try yourself to program for different situations. Where do you need a racing mode, where a touring mode or even a  stroling mode (along the terraces :)). How do you feel the different mindsets? How fast can you change in mindset? How do you do that switching of mindset?
If you’re at full speed on a a cycle path and a parent with a small child is coming from the opposite direction you have to switch back to compassion and touring mode. It helps if you don’t about them as hindrances but you say in yourself things as: “Nice to see such a child sitting on the bike.”
If you threaten to come almost in a shouting match or worse, do de-escalate. Have a quick note ready: “Are you ok?” Phew, here I have to recover from.”
In urban areas, change to “interval rest” and enjoy the other people.
You switch not only your derailleur but also your mindset. As athletes shortly before a match while beiing in race preparation give an interview in a laid back way. And then, chak, switch to the game mode. It is nice to see. Or a sprint train in full final. This is not only blind rage in the legs. The lead out-men and the sprinters keep looking and communicating.
It is n
ice also to be able to turn the mindset yourselves. A sunny Sunday is a good time to practice it 🙂

Group Dynamics
Controlling your mindset is not only an individual matter. The group dynamics ensures a smooth or hectic, safe or unsafe, social or ot social  behaviour on the road.

Status and influence
The wisest people do not always have the most influence. The status of the riders in a group is different. Usually the strongest ‘legs’ have the greatest impact. They can also apply that influence for a smart ride as a group. Or are you just doing your own thing?
If you are the weakest you usually have less status and you are busy enough to keep yourself on track. To influence the group behavior you have to be strong in your head.

There is a particular culture in the group. Just ask the nickname given to the group by others 🙂

These are exampoles of things that sometimes are in nteh way of riding smart. How can you change or improve that?
It’s hard to influence your own mental attitude, to change the attitude of a group is even more difficult. Giving feedback, leading by example or not following bad behaviour, it’s a start. About feedback see: cooperation and communication / coaching each other
See also: cooperation and communication

Helmet as mind game
giro synthe

You start with a different idea on the bike than you later on.
Your mindset before is: a quiet round on my own. And so (???) no helmet. There is a group rider overtaking you and suddenly you are riding fast. Without a helmet and in a group, you are not familiar with.
It is winter. You have a winter cap instead of a helmet, because you’re going to do a quiet endurance training. And you as a true cyclist have more than enough skills for such a smooth ride, right? In fact, the cap put your mindset on ‘quiet 🙂 the way it turns out to be a bit wet and slippery…
The day before the big trip in the mountains you do a quiet ride uphill in your own. Knee pads and arm warmers. So no helmet, why? Oh, there’s also a descent. Oh yes, there’s other traffic.
In bike to a bikerace you have your helmet on / in the backpack and not on your head, because really hard it will go the race. Here you can see the real pro, or perhaps not? A helmet is for touring riders or only when it is required in the race. A pizza delivery scooter in a hurry and going to the wrong side of the road and ….
Recognizable situations?
You think different than it eventually turns out. We tend to have all kinds of thought for not doing the right thing.
A helmet is sweaty uphill! Yes, and without a helmet you do not sweat? In recent years the helmets are even more closed again because of aerodynamics, so with more sweat. Because of the aerodynamics we do ride with them now.
And under cold conditions
covers under or over helmet are working against the cold as well as only a thick cap on your head.
Do you understand it or yourself? 🙂
No objection, but still … a brainteaser
In short: Technically, there is no objection to a helmet, there are only advantages. Yet sometimes we do not do the right thing. This is not a moral judgment, a “may not” or “Stupid”. You make your own choices, right? It is a statement with a question to think further.
The helmet is essentially not only to protect your brain, but also to use them :). The helmet is basically a mind game.
You train your mindset for the race or cyclo sportive, but not for a mind game as the helmet? Find a way to have a positive mindset for you on the helmet issue. It looks ‘tough’. It is a ‘good’ example, and you have the most impact on the behaviour of others, It is a ‘good sunscreen’, ‘I do’nt want always to think about whether it will be dangerous enough that I need a helmet. Look how your mind works and try to give it a functional twist. Playing with your mindset is a wonderful game and brings you also benifists for  other (game) situations.
PS. In certain non-bicycle-minded countries such as the USA, the emphasis is put on wearing a helmet by people who want to deduce from the way the roads are designed for the benefit of the cars and the behavior of the motorists.
See for example:
This is an important view/discussion, but don’t let it be a reason not to put your helmet on.


Mountains make different demands on the bike material
On a bike that you ride along on the flat without any problems, you can not necessarily ride perfect in the mountains. Of course you should have enough light gears to kick the slopes upwards. But in addition: a bike that on the flat appears to be technically perfect, appears in the mountains sometimes not quite right. The impact is different in the mountains, something creaks slightly, the chain or wheels touches something and the derailleur does not work accurate. And so forth.
A few points you do wise to pay attention. Briefly mentioned because on material is on the internet unendlessly much to find.

Gears and resistance


cassetteDo you have to put before you go into the hills or mountains on your backwheel a different (mountain) set with a 27, 28 or even 32 instead of 23 as the smallest sprocket? And for the crankset? Do you need to assemble a compact crankset (34-50) where you have on the flat just a double crankset (39-52)? Or do you already have a triple.
Incidentally: In the flat you would like to switch per time one tooth. Then you can peddle with the right frequency and the right power. If you ride on the flat with a mountain gearing set with large steps between the teeth, you therefore cannot find the right frequently and the ideal resistance. Maybe on the plane as the smallest opposition to take a 23?

Brakes, wheels and tires

There are different types of brakes and brake pads in combination with different rims. In addition, there is the difference between the rim brakes and disc brakes.
What is good in the flat is not per se good enough for long and steep descents.

velg-en-bandIn addition, different types of brakes, the brakes and blocks brake differently.

It is important that you can easily keep the bite levers (by 2 to 3 fingers). In case of need you don’t want to reach out to the brakeslevers. Do you have small hands, that is sometimes difficult. For some levers are auxiliary pieces that bring the lever a little closer to the steering wheel. Otherwise make the slack in the cable a bit more so you can keep the lever a little attracted without the brake already touching the rim.
A ‘scare’centimeter space in the cable is anyway handy if you’re in unexpected situations tend to react too fast rather than too slow. Before you attract the brake unnecessary and sometimes dangerous too quickly, that extra space in the cable gives you the chance to recover from the initial shock and not (hard) braking where it is not wanted.

Road tire contact: slipping
The most critical at braking is the tire-road contact. There is a big difference between tires in how much they can be braked without slipping. The most durable tires have the hardest rubber. They wear the least, go the least leak, but slip the fastest (in turns). On a wet road that is worse than on a dry road.
If you are with a group you need to know whether these differences are mutually so big that you have to take that into account.

Dosing and overreact

Remblokjes taps monteren

Remblokjes taps monteren

You try to avoid that the brakes ‘snap’, blocking the wheel. That’s a bit trickier with rim brakes than disc brakes. The right rubbers and the right space in the cable help much. Possibly you mount the brake pads slightly tapered at the rim. As a result, the brake shoes get hold of the rim not directly over the entire length of the blocks, but gradually from front to back (and especially not vice versa, then they snap even more :)).

In wet roads, you will have to brake dry the rims of rim brakes regularly in order to prevent them from taking a while before they do their job properly.

The fact that disc brakes engage harder and slow down more than rim brakes is not an advantage as long as the limiting factor is the contact between the tire and the road surface. The main advantage of disc brakes is the (easier) dispensability.

NB do not trust blindly that the material will do the job. Disc brakes are not necessarily better. It is important that your material is perfectly mounted and adjusted. And that you yourself know how to use it.

Continuous braking, heat
If you brake continuously on a descent to keep the speed that can make the wheels  very warm. Because of the heat the (inner) tube expand and may even explode. If you ride with tubes, the adhesive can be too hot and the tubes come loose. If you drive with carbon rims the carbon material can become slack and not well to stop the pressure of the tire.
Feel now and again the rim, especially of the front wheel. In frontwheel the brake brakes the hardest and therefore is the warmest. Can you hardly grasp, it is not good. Let it cool, maybe with some water from your water bottle on it.
By not continuously braking but shorter braking (and more severe) the rims are more likely to cool off during the descent. And riding, you also have beautiful the wind and cooling than standing alongside the road.

The pros ride almost always on carbon rims. But they  brake less often and long. For cyclists, it is probably wiser to ride with aluminum rims (or disc wheels).
See also: Cycling in the mountains or hills / Professionals and cyclists

Reserve Material
In the mountains t
he bicycle shop is often not around the corner and you do’nt want to spend your time looking for one. It is wise to take at least: repairset, reserve inner tires and outer tires,brake pad11speed links (A wet weekend in the mountains can wear a set of blocks). A chain or, in any case, a connecting link, for example a quick link. And tools, among others, inbuss keys, screwdriver, chain tool. Are you with a group, it is also useful to carry a spare wheel.
Please be aware that the components from various suppliers such as Campagnolo, Shimano and SRAM usually do not fit together. Also note whether your group is 9, 10 or 11 speed.

Other road users

Going up
In the mountains you are climbing on the bike up much slower than other traffic. You will be easily overtaken. The question is how much space you take on the road.
Are you going to ride along the side of the road, you will be seen as nothing more than an object to pass. Car drivers will not cut their speed, or little at best, and do not make a wide berth while passing. You notice that they are not ‘in touch’ with you. If you take up a little more space, a motorist will usually react by reducing speed somewhat, and pass you with more distance. Thus, there is contact. He considers you. And that is safer and more agreeable.

If there is also an vehicle oncoming while another is waiting behind you, that motorist behind you sometimes passes you tightly. You can anticipate on that because as a cyclist, you see or hear the oncoming vehicle earlier.

Signals to traffic from behind
Nothing is more annoying for a driver, for example a slow truck, than having to wait behind two chattering cyclists riding side by side until he can see if he can overtake the two. All the time there will be no oncoming traffic, and when he can oversee the road, there is an oncoming vehicle. So he needs to drive through some curves behind the cyclists until he has clear view on a clear road.
If you are a cyclist you can see earlier that there is room for the driver to pass, so you can give him a signal. He will be grateful for you. You look behind you to let him know “I’ve seen you.” You make contact. One finger, or a hand signal: “Attention, please wait.” And then you gesture “You can now pass.”
Weave when you are riding as a group. Link
See also: Dealing with other roadusers

Going down
In the descent, you often go on the road bike about as fast as motorists.

take up space
You ride downhill not on the side of the road, but as a motorcyclist, you ride more to the middle. Then you have the necessary room to maneuver. It is obvious to a driver that you will use as much space as he. He will keep that in mind.
If you keep too much to the side of the road, then he can even pass in a place where it is not convenient for you. For example, just before the bend.
See also: room to move

Riding more to the middle in a downhill also prevents you from ending up in the often poorer conditions at the side of the road.

Corners: differences between cars and bikes
When cornering, there is a difference between cars (and bikers) and cyclists. Cars can drive on the straights much faster and also brake later, but take the turn much slower. As a cyclist you need less space and if you make the turn somewhat wider by going “outside-inside-outside”, you can ride through the curve faster than a motorist.
See also: taking sharp turns

It’s pretty difficult for you as a cyclist when a  motorist overtakes you just before the curve and then go hard on the brakes. Keep him behind you if possible by riding wide on the road and, if necessary, to give a signal: “Please wait.” Then of course a friendly signal after the turn the call “You can go past”. And a ‘thank you’ thumb-up.

If the road is less steep and your speed goes down you can move to the side the road somewhat more. Possibly you give the traffic behind the call: “Go just past.”

For example, cyclists and cars tractor


Cyclists are overtaken. Nice to see that the cyclists keep tightly to the right and other traffic keep to the left where there’s good forward vision. The second part of the road is steep and has more curves. Cyclists are actually faster than the tractor, but it is not safe to overtake. The rider has to brake all the time. In fact, this is a wasted descent! Why not stop and then restart? Then you have a clear way and you can go down pretty hard.

Example: oncoming traffic

Overtaking with (in the distance) another slight turn. As there is no clear view all the way through, but (somewhat) unexpected oncoming traffic when overtaking. Risky? Definitely a bit. The ones who were overtaken help out by driving on the side of the road.
At the end of the bend there’s another oncoming vehicle, but then there’s plenty of room at the right side to get out of the way right away. You must know this or have arranged this!
As for the risk, the wide angle (fisheye) distorts the distances a bit, making it look somewhat riskier than it is. Hearing the mutual signals, you can conclude ther is no panic.

See also: Dealing with other road users



Kleine wegen naar boven – Grote wegen naar beneden

Als je in de bergen fietst, maakt het voor verkeersdrukte, veiligheid, lekker kunnen dalen enzovoorts nogal wat uit hoe je de route kiest. Bij de planning van je rondje kan je rekening houden met de kenmerken van de weg.
foto kaart met stijgingspijlen (nog te maken)

De kwaliteit van de weg
Er is een grotere kans dat een kleine weg minder goed is. Naar boven doet de kwaliteit van een weg er minder toe dan als je naar beneden gaat. Klimmend heb je weinig last van gaten en hobbels. Een afdaling wordt er een stuk minder leuk door.
Bovendien zal een kleine weg in het algemeen minder autoverkeer hebben. En dat is dan weer leuk voor het klimmen.

Breedte en overzicht van de weg
Een smalle weg met weinig zicht kan prachtig zijn om te klimmen, maar in de afdaling moet je voortdurend remmen. Niet lekker rijden en zonde van de hoogtemeters. En van je remblokken:).
foto (nog te maken)

Een brede weg met mooi asfalt is ook met relatief veel autoverkeer heerlijk om te dalen, maar een crime om te klimmen.
foto (nog te maken)
Zie ook: ‘Lezen’ van de weg

Bij dat afdalen gedraag je je ten opzichte van het autoverkeer anders dan in de beklimming. Je probeert met andere weggebruikers tot een samenspel te komen om veilig  snel te kunnen dalen met mooie lijnen. Als dat lukt is het genieten, voor sommigen meer dan naar boven:)
Zie ook: Andere weggebruikers

Het maakt ook nogal wat uit hoelang je op ene stuk drukke weg rijdt. Klimmend doe je er soms 5 tot 10 keer langer over dan dalend. Hetzelfde stuk weg is wel te pruimen in een afdaling, maar als klim een uur hijgend in de uitlaatgassen en herrie is het heel wat anders.
Kortom: een slimme routeplanning kan je veel plezier geven.


Going downhill

Learn to descend

Schermafbeelding 2016-02-24 om 21.18.01Going downhill on a racing bike is perhaps even more fun than going uphill. Obviously, first and foremost should descending be safe, but also fast. And the two go well together.
You can and should learn to
descend. Of course it is also a matter of natural talent. But unlike playing violin, almost every cyclist can reach a pretty decent level in descending. In the mountains you make a lot of hours going uphill and very little going downhill. It’s not easy to put in the necessary hours to learn to improve your descending skills.
You should be alert to seize any opportunity to learn to descend. Getting stuck behind a few cars can just ruin a good descent. Best wait a while, and let the cars get far enough ahead and give it all you got in the descent.

Keeping measure
You will notice that if you have not descended in a long time, you just have to get your rhythm back when you’re back in the mountains. For example, how far before a turn you have to brake, and how hard to break. The same applies for a new bike, wheels or tires.
While practicing you take it to your limit, but you should not exceed that limit. If you feel it’s scary while others say that this is not necessary, make sure that you do take your time, do not rush it. Descending with sweaty palms is not a good idea. A few hours exercising in a more relaxed fashion does do the trick.

Cornering technique on the flat
The cornering technique that you practiced on the flat can also be used when descending on the road bike. The big difference is that in a descent acceleration can continue even if you do not peddle. If a curve continues for longer than you expected, it can get tricky. So, do anticipate.
See also: Practise cornering?
See also: Taking sharp turns

wet roads
On dry roads, you will learn quickly how hard and how much you can bank your bike, wheels and tires. On wet roads, it is more difficult to master this skill. How wet is it, is the surface oily, how it differs per meter? The situation is often so different that you learn much less how hard and banked it can get. On wet roads you will have to build a lot more security than on dry pavement.


Attitude on the straights
Everyone knows: the deeper you are, the less air resistance, the faster you go.

afdalen houding

When you sit on the top tube, the air resistance is even less.

op de buis

 You can also hang behind the saddle, with your stomach on the saddle, much like a bike throw in a sprint.

achter zadel

That gives easily a few kilometers per hour speed advantage.

The drawings below show the aerodynamic differences between different postures, based on a wind tunnel research with scale models.

Take care of control and safety with these ‘off saddle’ positions. Be aware that as a recreational cyclist you descend on smaller and worse roads more often than the pros and can also have to deal with oncoming traffic. How do you get stability if you are not on the saddle? Knees against the slanting tubes? Can you handle a blow through a hole in the road in such a position? How quickly can you respond to something unexpected? Do not stick with your shirt or pants on a point of the saddle if you want to come back on the saddle. You will not be the first one to come across that just before a turn. Practice it and know when and how you can apply an ‘off saddle’ attitude.

Attitude during cornering
In fact, you use the same techniques as when cornering on the flat.
A recap: press the outside pedal down, body / bike c.o.g. in the contact area bike – road. Use the classic turn or ski turn?
See also: Taking sharp turns

Looking forward
As with a curve on the flat, look ahead in a curve during a descent. Only when the road is very bad also look at shorter distances in front of you to avoid pot holes and the like.
You look through the turn around in the direction you want to go. With a hairpin look if possible one level lower.

etage lager kijken

This is done to see how far the corner curves backand and whether there is oncoming traffic. If you can not see through a corner, it’s a blind corner, and you have to be more careful. If you go to the outside of the road you may see the road beyond if you look at the inside of the road.

With blind corners to the right, you can, space permitting, ride as much as you can on the left side of the road, even over the center line of the road. The further to the left you ride, the more early you can see if anything is oncoming. If there is something oncoming, you have return to your side of the road as fast as you can!
See also: taking sharp turns

Braking in a descent is done
ahead of the curve, as you’re still riding in a straight line. Especially with the front brake. The front brake has about twice the stopping power as the rear brake. Furthermore, the front wheel hardly locks when braking, because that’s where the most of the pressure is on. The rear wheel locks more easily, but when this happens while riding in a straight line, it’s scary, but fairly easy to recover from.
Sometimes you do a little additional braking in a bend. Beware that you can brake but do it very gently. In a turn locking the front wheel and getting it into a slip is almost a guarantee to fall.
The rear brake can slip easily, but the effect is usually not so bad. If you immediately release the rear brake, the bike pulls itself right again, and you are sometimes even positioned more favorable in the corner :). The first time is scary. The tenth time too. But somewhat less.
In a downhill, you can try by late braking to get some kind of stored energy after the turn.

Be careful that you do not brake continuously in a descent. Thus, the wheels can become too hot, possibly resulting in a burst tire. Carbon rims can also deform by heat.
Make no mistake that we normal cyclists have to brake more often and harder than the professionals. We are dealing with other traffic, ride more often on smaller roads with worse tarmac.

knietjeIn the mountains we do not know most of the corners very well. Not as good as a bend in a criterion that you take many times. That is, how well you enter such a curve, you almost always need to correct a bit. You do that by stabbing a knee to the corner to get some extra weight inside. You can also do this through the ski-turn position by veering in slightly and therefore veering back out afterwards. For example, if the last part of the curve is continuing on longer than you thought. If you enter the curve a bit too sharply, you can correct it by veering out from the ski-turn position a bit to make the turn less sharp.
These adjustments are done unconsciously, just because it’s going too fast. Such reactions should be an automatic reflex. That requires a lot of practice at higher speed and (simulated) stress.

In groups
If you ride in a group ride that gradually transitions from a false flat to, for example, 5% descend, it can be tricky. You drive on the false flat often in a compact group. When the road slightly goes down, the speed imperceptibly increases. You forget sometimes to increase the space between eachother.
ou need more distance to absorb eventualities at a higher speed. Moreover, it is likely that if the road goes steeply down, it gets narrower with sharper twists and turns. So, allow for larger spaces in time.
Several riders sometimes have a different cornering or braking styles. You always should keep that in mind.

Usually the lesser performers are found in the back of a group. A long descent is useful if there is a good descender at the back of the group. Otherwise, if the last man hits the deck, or has a mechanical, it’s no fun to discover this down the mountain, and you have to ride back uphill.


Fromm, afdaling Peyresourde, TdF, 2017

The surprising attack by Chris Fromm in the descent. The man who was been seen as a bad descenter the year before. The commentators on the Belgian and Dutch TV spoke of ‘dangerous’, and ‘do not do this at home’. The English commentators, including Sean Kelly, spoke about their own fear and also and especially about their admiration.

Chris Fromm had probably explored the descent very well. He knows that the asphalt is super. He knows the curves. And he has greatly improved his downhill skills. See how each bend line fits, now and then with some extra ’emphases’. See how he shifted his body / bicycle center of gravity inward, but with his upper body slightly outward. How he works with the knee. How he has a difficult but aerodynamic position on the seat tube (‘what’s in a name? :)) and even paddles in this position.

Classic with beautiful music. Smooth not so difficult descent. Subtle use of the ski-technique. Note the minor corrections through the knee or by veering in with the ski-bend technique. Also note the time when he moves behind his saddle.

Cunego en Sagan, descent to Grindelwald, Tour de Suise 2011.

Technical descent, with much ‘help’ of the organization by having closed roads, straw bales and especially by signs with information about the course of the curves.


Wonderful technical descent. With knowledge of the track and with a strong descending technique Nibali wins the stage in the descent and not the ascent.
Watch the video also once without sound. The commotion of the commentators is understandable, but it distracts from the great technique.
Typically a course that you as a cycling tourist cannot descend this fast. The descent will have other traffic, people between the houses, on the roads etc.. Maybe you even might want to avoid this road as decent, loosing a lot of height meter for nothing.

Lovely controlled descent. Knowledge of the road is visible: he knows where to go wide on the exit. He uses the whole road. Nice to see small changes in his position. For example, on 2′.10 ” how he somewhat veers up to make the bend wider, moving more to the stones on the exit and enters the next bend exactly right. On 10:10 he has a slight rear wheel skid, which he recovered nicely.
It is important at such a relatively long descent to keep concentrated, 100% stay in the game on the road / curves / technique. A descent of a few minutes is in terms of retaining your attention much easier than a long one. In a long descent, there are times where your focus slips slightly. You’ll lose time.

Remember, there’s no other traffic, so he can go all out in the blind corners. The road is more or less checked for potholes, or gravel on the sides. For us normal cyclists, such a descent is a lot less fun, especially since you often have to be on the right for a blind curve, and thus cannot ride a nice line.

A nice example of a good decent under wet conditions is that of Gilbert in the tour of Lombardia of 2010, section 2.

How to ‘read’ the road

How to ‘read’ the road

How hard you can descent depends on a number of issues.

The width of the road and restricted view due to vegetation or rocks

smalle weg

If a road is a car or a car and a half wide, a smooth descent  is questionable at best.
When vegetation or rocks obstruct the view, you can not really descent really fast. Something can always turn up on your side of the road, so you have to be very close to the side or even on the edge.

If a road is two cars wide without center line, it gets better. The pros can ride their racing lines there, for us that is not the case if we have no or restricted visibility.
The finale of Milano – San Remo or de decent of Coll du Chat (in the Tour de France, stage 9) are good examples.


bergen bocht


A way of two cars wide with center line is also good for us. We can also ride the racing lines. You can also use the other half of the road when you are careful.

bergen weg breed

If the road is wide, but without a center line, or where the center line stops – count on it: a little further down it becomes narrow with the sight being restricted by high rocks or something!

Surface of the road
The speed with which you can descend depends on the quality of the road surface.
Is the tarmac smooth, or is it bumpy, or even patched up? There are pot holes in the road?
Especially bumpy tarmac is tricky. That is tarmac of secondary quality. Cheaply made, but not so smoothly laid. It looks right, but it is not. You can also feel it in a car. On the bike, you don’t have good control. The bicycle drifts away. You cannot brake hard. You wonder whether you’ve forgotten how to descent. When you get a beautiful stretch of tarmac, then you feel the difference more than that you see it. OK, I can still do it:).

The road is wet? Or only wet in patches? From rain, or mountain streams. This is a complicated matter. On dry tarmac, you learn in the course of time what you and your bike can do. Wetness comes in degrees,  possibly combined with dirt, oil, and the like. In addition, it can be different every few meters. So you learn much less about what you can or cannot do on a wet surface. If the road is wet, you never really know as well as with dry tarmac what you can do and what you cannot do. You should also have much more built-in safety. Good luck! 🙂

See also


natte weg

Dew and frost
In autumn, winter and spring you may unexpectedly have to deal with dew or frost.
At lower night temperatures, the road cools off so much that moisture from the relatively warm air condenses on the road surface. Then, there is dew or frost on the road. Possible slippery.
On stretches that lay in the sun, the wetness disappears in the course of the day, and the road becomes dry. Where the road is shaded for a long time, it may stays moist all day. Has it not rained for days, and you ride, enjoying the sun, a descend in an open landscape, one curve later, you’re in a forest. Oops! Surprise!
Anticipation is certainly good for your blood pressure 🙂

The bend indication of the road authority
For motorists, the road authority has sometimes put down warning signs. This can be beneficiary to us cyclists. It varies from area to area. Sometimes there’s nothing, sometimes, four grades are used to denote how sharp a turn is. It is as if you were given a road book, as rally drivers have.
Here are some pictures with such signs.




Triangle Signs (beware of dangerous bend) with direction indication of the curve are a nice extra service because they are placed well ahead of the curve.

A brain teaser is a sign that, for example, indicates a right turn, but the turn actually goes to the left. You may think ‘mistake’ of the road authority. Forget it. The bend to the left, that’s not the point. The right turn comes afterwards, and is to be taken seriously.



You always have to get adjusted in a region to what the signals are and what they mean. At one point you know, based on that knowledge, where you can ride through, where to keep your legs still, and where to brake (hard).

And, yes, at some point, the appearance of those signs simply stop. You’re in another municipality, or it’s still under construction, or whatever. If you’re then tuned in nicely to the signs, and because there are no signs you are going all out – that might be a mistake. Actually, you can say, if they are there, you know what to look for. If they are not there, you do not know that (for sure) 🙂.


Cycling in the mountains or hills

haarspeldbochtMany of us ride in the mountains or hills. It is different from cycling on the flat. Not only going up, but mostly going down.

To climb
Know which gears you need. It’s remarkable that in hills with the short but steep slopes you need smaller gears than in real mountains with much longer but less steep slopes.
Sometimes the steep hills are short enough to do them with power. But there is a point you have to surrender and change to smaller gears and do the climing on rhythm.
To sit or to stand in a climb? There are entire articles published about this issue. Do what works for you, but make sure that you can do both easily.


Because descending a mountain goes so fast, you will have less opportunity to learn the technique. While descending is one of the fun things to do, if you did a little practice. Incomprehensible how some are panting and groaning for an hour with climbing, and then carelessly throw the gained altitude away.


Difference professionals and cyclists

profs en amateurWhen we see the pros in action on TV, it looks beautiful, but realize that the circumstances in which they ride are very different from us cyclists. In the pro races like the Tour de France, the riders ride on controlled roads. There are no large pot holes in the road. There is no oncoming traffic. That means they can go blindly through blind corners, and therefore have a much broader road at their disposal. In addition, the pro riders get much information about the curves by the behavior of their predecessors and the brake lights of motorcycles and cars.
We cyclists on average have much poorer roads to ride on, with bumps, patched asphalt, and pot holes. That means a lot more bouncing and you have to not only look forward for the ideal line, but also look at the road directly in front of you. Moreover, you have to consider oncoming traffic.
Overall, descents are far more difficult for us cyclists than for the professionals. Think of the finale of Milano- San Remo or the Coll du Chat, for example in the Tour de France of2017.

See also: How to ‘read’ the road
See also: Crashes

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