Thursday, May 20, 2010

I gots my Descending Mojo back!

One of the biggest changes to my riding after my bike crash last year was that I became a tentative descender.

I've always enjoyed descending, and over time I became pretty good at it. Up until right before my crash I'd only ridden Rivendells which are rock-solid descending bikes. Then I got my MidLife Crisis Bike, my lovely titanium Lynskey, and proceeded to crash it on a descent 10 days later. I was off my bike entirely for about 3 months, recovered well and gradually got back in the groove. I didn't remember anything about the crash, but once I started riding for real again I realized I wasn't having fun on descents.

I wasn't being fearful, exactly, although there were some descents early in this year's Death Ride training that made me wonder if I was devolving from tentative to fearful.

And, face it, half of the Death Ride is descending. While some people take solace from that fact, I was starting to wonder if that would be my big obstacle. Ridiculous but true.

Well, I'm happy to say I done gots my Descending Mojo back!

Here's how:

1. For starters, I abandoned my RetroGrouch sensibilities and switched out th bar-end shifters on my Lynskey to those newfangled :D brake/shift levers. I went whole hog and got the nifty new Ultegra carbon levers, which look very nice indeed (I always disliked the look of brifters, but these actually look nice). They took me a bit of time to get used to, but I really like them now. There are times it's nice to not to have to take a hand off the bar to shift, especially on bumpy descents (which could have contributed to my crash in the first place; but no-one was with me at the time and I don't remember it, so we'll never know).

2. Probably the single most important change was switching out the Shimano pads that came with my brakes for KoolStop brake pads. The Shimano pads didn't brake all that well, and over time they performed even worse, which could be why I felt less secure descending over time. I felt much more confident in my descending almost immediately after the switch to Kool-Stops.

3. The icing on the cake is that I'm now very flexible. Soon after I stopped wearing the back brace I took up yoga to help strengthen my back and regain some flexibility. I'm not going to classes right now, but I've kept up with it at home. I can now easily lay my palms flat on the floor in a forward bend, and after a few moments I can even bring my nose to my knees. So now I can very easily ride way down in the drops, which I wasn't able to do before. That makes a big difference in stability and security while I'm descending.

So there you have it. I's a happy camper.

No comments: