How to descend faster on your mountain bike

Follow Seth and Phil’s tips to up your downhill smash game

How To Video
On the Rocks

Phil on the rocks.

I recently rode the famed trails of Santa Cruz for the first time. Despite smashing down the lesser known fast chunky trails of Georgetown all winter, I wasn’t ready for the steep techy terrain of the famed coastal town. That’s not to say I didn’t have a great time or crashed or anything. Okay, I crashed once but it was on a mellow turn on a mostly flat trail. You know the kind of crash where you stand up, dust yourself off, and look at the offending section of trail like WTF?

Anyway, I got to thinking about some of the tips mentioned in a Seth’s Bike Hacks video about jumping over gnar to link sections of trail and ultimately descend faster. This advice and many of the other tips offered in the video come in handy when riding unfamiliar gnarly trails and trying to avoid coming out on a stretcher. They can also help you gain serious speed on your familiar local trails, and possibly see the new lines they have to offer now that your eyes are open.

Seth’s Top Tips For Gaining Speed
  1. Take any opportunity you can to follow someone faster than you. In a recent Singletrack Sampler video, a lot of you were blown away by how much faster I had gotten over the course of one summer. It’s probably because I spent my summer chasing enduro racers and worse yet, Canadians. Each time you chase a fast rider some of their speed will rub off on you.
  2. Ride downhill parks as often as possible. Take a moment to estimate how many feet of descending you did last season. Then consider you can do 10,000 feet in just a few hours at a bike park. How’s that for some practice?
  3. Session stuff. Sessioning, also known as dicking around, is when you find a feature on or off trail and ride it in as many ways as you can think of. Do this with friends and challenge each other. You’ll gain more bike control skills in an afternoon of sessioning than a whole week on the trails. And you’ll enjoy it, too. These skills will translate well to singletrack and give you an edge on sketchy lines.

Check out more videos on Mtbr.

About the author: Justin Wages

As a stage 4 colon cancer survivor, Justin Wages got into the cycling world in an effort to increase his endurance after losing his left lung. As a California native and growing up with a skateboard and snowboard beneath his feet it wasn’t long before the thrill of mountain biking gripped him. Justin’s day job as a Land & Recreation Manager helps him understand the balance between conservation and trail use. He also works with his fiancé, Jeni, to bring more women into the mountain bike world with certified skills clinics and education. “My goal is to get more people on trails for health and enjoyment,” he says. “I want to help them overcome their mental or physical limitations and be the best person they can be, while expanding their appreciation for our natural world.”

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