Descending hairpins, overtaking on a tri bike

Ive been frustrated at a couple of races as I descend much faster than most, a combination of being heavier and more reckless perhaps, but often riders are essentially blocking by riding two a breast or in bunches. Other times its just difficult timing a safe pass on a hairpin descent.

Being heavier, I feel Ive paid the higher price to get up there, I need the free speed going down for it to be a ‘fair’ race.

Or should I just be more patient? :grinning:

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I’m sure there’s people here who do it, but drives me mad in a triathlon where you get people riding 2-abreast and chatting, and I’m left with no choice but to scoot into opposite lane to pass. It’s a race not a Bloody Sunday social!

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Just give a shout and pass them.

On the etape, coming down the Col de Marie Blanque there was a woman in Manchester Tri club kit doing the exact opposite of what she should have been doing. Staying in tight on what will become the inside of the bend and just as she came to the bend/hairpin she would veer across to the outer part of the road. There was swearing in a few languages at her riding.

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I am not a great descender (the last two years I have improved massively, but still a year or two away from being good). In races I try and be very, very aware of those behind me and keep really far to the left.

At Roth I saw a guy getting wiped out on a corner. He was overtaking correctly when a slower rider just swerved out. I was almost taken out on a flat overtaking when the person in front decided to ride in the middle of the road. The motor bike was on my tail and absolutely screamed at them to be aware and watch for overtaking riders.

So for me, I feel your pain. I am one of the people you overtake, but I am very, very alert for you, so hopefully “one of the responsible ones”.

Nothing to be done about it except yelling “on your left” constantly, I am afraid, and accepting that some people are idiots!

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Okay so how about the line we should take? Rules are stay to the left, or right in europe.

The racing line will always be to go wide and cut in to the corner and run wide again, so overtake on the straight if you can get to the widest point of the corner first right?

Im thinking about hairpins like we saw on the cols today, Aix en Provence and Lanza courses both have them. I suppose it applies to any tight corner, but I dont bother with over taking near corners normally because of the risk.

I’ve gone from being MOP descended to FOP… one of the advantages of living near mountains. AG Triathletes are rubbish descended, no idea about line or when to brake. Best way to pass is on exit, slow down a bit earlier and shift down 2 gears, accelerate through the apex (most poor descended brake through the apex) you will come out of the corner much faster in the correct heat. Make sure you give a shout (on your left if continental)


I’m heavier than you. If I let go of the breaks I’ll break the sound barrier on the way down. I’m scared shitless of descending, especially on a TT bike. I like to keep my speed down. If you build up its too hard to scrub off all that speed .

Hate hills up and down. Give me a flat where I can open the taps and destroy you all. :love_you_gesture:


Sometimes people will be more tentative on a descent if they’ve recently had a bad accident on a hill


Or simply not familiar with the route or roads. I like to hang back a bit to know what is coming up next. I remember at Zell Am See seeing the rescue team roping up to get a cyclist who had overcooked the corner and ended up over the barrier and into the river 20m below

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As obvious as it sounds, you just need to practice if at all possible. The main reason I signed up for the Etape last year was because I had qualified for Nice and I wanted to get more experience both climbing and descending. It made a massive difference. Just a couple of days of big mountains out in the Alpes and I felt so confident around Nice. I also got there early and rode the course on the Tuesday before.

The other thing is having the course map on your bike computer. This was a tip given to me by a KQ from our club. Again, makes a massive difference. Knowing a corner is just a little kink rather than a hairpin has made me a lot more confident. Knowledge is power, etc. I only use the map on descents. And as I use a BBS power plan, the route is already loaded up anyway.

I know that’s more about myself rather than passing others, but as Matt says, if you can take corners more effectively, then you can actually pass people on the safer straight bits by carrying more speed out of a corner. Rather than in the hairpin itself. As he says, and a bit like F1, brake early and accelerate out

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This is one of the few forte’s I have, descending.
Echo all of the above. The key thing for me is to make sure it is safe. YOU may think it is safe but you can’t predict what others will do and if you aren’t at the front of a race people can make rash decisions and get a bit panicky when they hear someone approaching quickly (sometime more when they are getting shouted at)

Give warning, be prepared for them to corner badly, brake early and power through.

On the descent from Belmont at IMUK at the fastest part where you sweep right and up a little, a lady doing about 20mph swerved to take racing line when I was doing about 40mph on my TT bars behind her. I swerved over the centre line and passed about 30cm away from her and damn nearly shit myself. Still don’t know how I stayed on.

Hairpins are safer than that as you are all braking early anyway.

Just be safe and aware.

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Fully agree with this. If racing in Europe, on the right side of the road, right hand bends are more difficult to pass. Most inexperienced riders run it round the outside, rather than hitting the Apex. You aren’t allowed to pass on the right, and there is often not much space on the left. Left hand bends are much easier to pass as you can take the inside line on the bend, and usually there is more space

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I’m a slow descender but try to give people room to pass as much as possible. I would give a shout that you’re coming through and I imagine most people will move out of your way.

I am also a descender, and always take a peak for anyone approaching behind me (when it’s safe as I always need to be alert that there is a world outside mine!), sometimes there’s the odd one, having said that I am shit at ascending.

On my first etape I had a bit of luck as on the big descent (l’Aubisque) I noticed a guy who passed me at the top was from a local town (club kit) and wetn after him to follow him, assuming he knew it well. I just kept him roughly the same distance up the road giving me time to react as he did. We flew down. The unlit tunnels were scary though. After that lesson I am much better downhill.

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You’re allowed one move before the braking zone right ? :wink:

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