Essential braking

Here are the basics of great braking:

As you reach your braking point, get in your low ready position. The lower you are, the harder you can brake and the less distance you need to stop.

Gradually apply both brakes. Gradually. Both.

Remember the pendulum that hangs from your belly button? As is starts to swing forward, counteract the forward force by starting to rotate your whole body — feet, hips, everything — down and back.

As the braking force builds, drive all that beautiful violence into your feet.

You know your balance is perfect when you feel tension in both butts while your hands are having a tea party.

Drop your heels! If someone’s in front of you, she should see the soles of your shoes.

As you reach your target speed, gradually release the brake pressure and return to your neutral position.

In the real world, you’ll be making a turn, hopping a rock or doing something else that requires great balance.

In this video, watch how the whole body — feet, knees, hips, torso — rotate back around the bottom bracket.

Start practicing this technique on flat pavement. As you gain skill and confidence, upgrade to loose dirt, steep downhills and ultimately loose, steep, bumpy downhills. Over time your balance will get so dialed you can handle steepness, bumps and looseness — all at the same time — while maintaining tea party hands.

Complete and Continue