steep hill descent

Is there a trick to descending steeper hills? I’ve got this hill project that I am working on and can’t seem to complete. It’s not huge but it is really steep at the top and there is a bump at the top that I have to get over and then drop right in, it’s sandy with some small round rocks. I started out going down and would eject over the front, so I tried to compensate and today I wound up on my butt most of the time. I have made it about halfway down but it wasn’t very pretty!

I suspect it’s just a matter of riding the slides and maintaining really great balance. But any tricks that anyone might have would be extremely helpful.

I have a KH 24 Freeride with a brake if that matters.

I had a look at you site and the hill looks fairly easy but it’s hard to judge from photographs. I would just go slowly and then when I got to a certain point (maybe 3/4 the way down) speed up and roll out. If you leave it for a week or two you may find that you can do it easily.

Re: steep hill descent

Try blasting it; instead of spending a lot of energy controlling your speed, try to ride it quickly. If you keep the uni under you and keep the pedals turning, you’ll tend to get to the bottom of any hill. It’s mostly a question of getting over your nervousness.

if its not too long then u could go slow if ur not up for speeding down it
all u hav to do is lean back and instead of pushing the pedals like riding u just prevent them from spining quickly (its all in the quads)
or u can go quickly

Those pictures are a bit decieving, even to me! I look at them and think, it’s not that big darn it, why am I having this much trouble! The top 5 feet or so is the trouble spot, it’s nearly vertical and made up of loose sandy gravel, my wheel slips and away I go.

Thanks for the replies, I’ll try a bit of all of your suggestions!

zig zag down it

Looks safe.

Stare at the pictures.
Get to the top and imagine the pics in your mind.
See yourself riding down the “easy” slope.
Then, like tholub said, pedal quickly.

The key is to see the success in your mind first.

I wouldn’t worry about going fast because there’s plenty of flat ground to run out onto (or roll if you fall).
I’d bomb down that first 5 feet of loose stuff, then use your brake to gradually slow down.
or try the inverse, go slow and slide through the sandy stuff, and if you’re still on your uni, then bomb down the rest of it or use your brake or a combination of the two

good luck

i just got a brake for my Freeride and i’m lovin it. i got it because I couldn’t do some hills that were really steep (like that or steeper) and also a 1.5 mile singletrack descent rendered my quads useless for the next few days

Ditto on the ‘The key is to see the success in your mind first.’ Thats important.

Also, pull on the handle, as if your pulling yourself down on the pedals. Forget about the hill and speeds and techniques, and just concentrate on staying on the pedals.

The trick to doing steep dirt (as you described) is to limit your speed without back-pressuring the pedals so hard you punch out of traction. Keep a slow, even spin going, as opposed to a stop-and-start jerky motion, which can quickly skid you out, especially on steep shale or loose dirt. Most of the hard trails in my hometown (in the Sasnta Monica mountains) are on shale/dirt, and it took me months before i could ride most of the single tracks without skidding out, often right onto my ass, a dozen or more times a trip. The looseness makes it hard, not the steepness.

Steep, loose terrain is much, much easier with a brake. It is amazing how slowly and smothly you can descend on super steep stuff with a true rim and a Magura. Sometimes I have the brake nearly locked and sort of bleed down the trail. One single track in particular is easily twice as hard and three times as strenuous without a brake.

I think one of the sketchiest kinds of terrain is steep shale-loose dirt that also has steps or drops. I don´t like using the brake much on this stuff because it is very hard to get just the right amount of braking going for the roll out phase–too much and it´s a face plant.

You can sometimes bomb this kind of terrain but I´ve taken some aweful falls trying this. The slightest bounce on the steep loose stuff and you´ll skid loose. One time I couldn´t run out a UPD (too steep and too fast), summersalted down and got all tore up. There´s a pretty notorious single track, called Suicide, in the San Fernando Valley that Teacherdad put us onto, with one section of insanely steep shale strewn over twisty, rocky ledges. If it were hard pack it would certainly go. I don´t know if anyone could maintain enough traction to ride it over shale. It was the only part Eyal and I could not ride–we did not even try.

This would be a really good subject for a comprehensive video tutorial.


Hey briguymaine,

(threadjack) I’m from Maine too, whereabouts do you live? Im in Camden/Rockport area.


Am I the only one who follows the philosopy of “If you can’t ride something steep by pedalling, then don’t pedal.”?

All the super steep thigs I’ve ridden have been on loose gravel or dust and pebbles (sharp ones). Rather than spinning my a$$ off trying to keep up with gravity, I just stop the wheel and skid when things feel right. The ability to control one’s skid is an important muni skil, IMO. Then again, maybe I just suck at muni and what I consider steep is nothing. Also, a controlled skid is useless in a place like slickrock, since it’s damn near impossible to lose traction on that stuff.

skid skid skid, if you wash out when you try to pedal, hold your break and lean just back of balanced. if you feel the wheel catch, let up on the break just tiny bit. like forest said, keep your feet on the pedals… if you get frustrated, just try to gap the steep part
might not work… but thats okay… crashing is great
good luck

We need video clips of what everyone is driving at so things could be made clear.


I do that, and was thinking of a good way to say tyhat. Steepest hill I’ve done was in deep gravel.

also Like the dave said. Little controlled hops down the steepest part can help.

It’s funny you say that because many many times, I’ll drop into the first few feet and feel pretty good and then the thought, “hey, I’m gonna make it” flashes through my head and then it seems to fall apart! The other day I walked out to the hill to show my wife what this hill is that I am always talking about (she was impressed!). I stood at the top looked down and instantly thought what is so hard about this.

I’m pretty sure I am pedalling slow and consistent but I’m not positive. I’ve only been riding muni since May so things still seem to happen quickly. It’s frustrating but I’ll get this thing done and I’m having a blast trying.

I made it! Finally, after months of trying. Thanks to all for your helpful suggestions, I think I wound up incorporating almost all of them into my technique.

About a week ago I felt like I was finally one with my uni, a feeling I have had with my bike since childhood. This morning I just focused on staying centered over the wheel. It all just clicked, everything slowed down to the point where I could feel everything and recognise what was happening and adjust accordingly.

What a relief! I am so psyched!!!

Well Done!

It almost makes it worth it that you couldn’t do it in the first place just for the satisfaction of beating it now. The only problem is that the euphoria will disappear as soon as you find another harder hill. :smiley: