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Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like :The Dirty Kanza". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Riding technique tips?

Old 03-19-20, 07:23 AM
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biketampa
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Riding technique tips?

so generally speaking with road cycling I didn't think too much any sort of riding technique. the normal making sure you are in an easier gear before you reach a climb, getting a little more aero, etc. But nothing I thought about too much.

Recently, I had a bike fit on my gravel bike which worked out well. I have a fit with this person before and he has me go through the motions of riding at different power and incline. It's on a guru bike so he can adjust easily. and he does give me some general feedback on how I should be riding. A couple things he mentioned I hadn't heard before. Not sure if some of these are just his opinion or more common knowledge.

1) On a gravel bike to stay in the drops as much as possible as that puts the most pressure on the front wheel to maintain as good a tire contact/grip with the group. He wasn't saying always stay in the drops just try to work on getting comfortable being there more frequently. And of course he worked on the fit so I would be more comfortable there

2) when climbing have your hands positioned on top of the hoods. Not just on the hoods in your normal position but as far on top as possible obviously while maintaining control which going slower up a hill you're not making rapid fast movements. I'm assume this is maybe to get you as spread out across the bike as possible making sure both tires are in good contact as possible. idk There's a lot going on during a fit so I don't always think to ask a lot of questions.

None of these tips where phrased in a sort of absolute way or anything like that but these 2 in particular were new to me.

Anybody have additional tips or even just comments on these tips?
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Old 03-19-20, 08:33 AM
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I'm not sure what the difference between "on the hoods" and "on top of the hoods" is? Personally I find that being on the hoods with my elbows bent allows me to open up my chest cavity a bit allowing the lungs to expand and take in more air on a climb.

I do find, especially on single track, that being in the drops significantly lowers my center of gravity. But when doing a fast loose gravel turn I tend to shift my weigh back behind the seat (like a mtb going downhill) so that I get more weight on my rear wheel. Other wise my front wheel might wash out; could just be my bike though, others may be different.
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Old 03-19-20, 08:33 AM
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I think both of those "tips" are absolutely bizarre and I've never heard either of them before. I can't even imagine how they make sense tbh.
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Old 03-19-20, 08:40 AM
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Just thinking about it more.

I like being on the drops on tight hard single track as that extra weight on the front gives me a little more bite, and a lower center of gravity. I do ride with less air in my front tire so that I have the same size contact patch front and rear.

But on the loose stuff, I don't want to understeer, and I'm gonna get my weigh back.
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Old 03-19-20, 01:51 PM
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I will ride in the drops more frequently when it's windy so there's that or just to change my position for really long rides but I haven't done it with the thought of more control
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Old 03-19-20, 01:57 PM
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"on top of the hoods" meaning closer to and basically on top of shifters. he was strictly speaking during climbing so you're not going fast so not needing as much control. he mentioned the position of hoods with elbows bent and opening up the chest. many things you figure out what works for you as you ride of course. Maybe these are just things he's noticed help him.
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Old 03-19-20, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by shoota View Post
I think both of those "tips" are absolutely bizarre and I've never heard either of them before. I can't even imagine how they make sense tbh.
I hadn't heard them before. For gravel bikes which many times have the flared out drop bars I have heard riding there to help with control. I hadn't heard about that position putting more weight on the front wheel. I know riding up a steeper climb with loose gravel to stay seated to keep the rear tire from slipping.
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Old 03-19-20, 03:06 PM
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I'm not sure about either tip. I think the main thing to remember is the bike knows which way to go, so don't over-control it. That might be a variation on the advice to look where you want to go, but I'm not sure.
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Old 03-20-20, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by biketampa View Post
I hadn't heard them before. For gravel bikes which many times have the flared out drop bars I have heard riding there to help with control....
Yeah, I haven't gotten on the flared handebar thing. generally, I'm in the drops when I need to be aero, not when I need control. At speed I want a narrow handle bar; going slower on technical terrain I might want a wider bar. Ideally I would want reversed flared bars (wide at the top, narrow at the bottom) but of course that wouldn't' work. Flared bottoms are the opposite of what I want.
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Old 03-20-20, 01:53 PM
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Originally Posted by biketampa View Post
I hadn't heard them before. For gravel bikes which many times have the flared out drop bars I have heard riding there to help with control. I hadn't heard about that position putting more weight on the front wheel. I know riding up a steeper climb with loose gravel to stay seated to keep the rear tire from slipping.
Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
I'm not sure about either tip. I think the main thing to remember is the bike knows which way to go, so don't over-control it. That might be a variation on the advice to look where you want to go, but I'm not sure.
Exactly. A gravel bike doesn't want to be steered, it knows where to go. "More traction" up front makes it sound like there is lots of turning happening. At least where I live there is very minimal turning on gravel roads, they're all straight for miles and miles. Weight back and light on the front is the the way to go.
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Old 03-20-20, 06:37 PM
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Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
Yeah, I haven't gotten on the flared handebar thing. generally, I'm in the drops when I need to be aero, not when I need control. At speed I want a narrow handle bar; going slower on technical terrain I might want a wider bar. Ideally I would want reversed flared bars (wide at the top, narrow at the bottom) but of course that wouldn't' work. Flared bottoms are the opposite of what I want.
I donít dislike the flared bars that came with my bike. Itís hard to say if I prefer them to regular bars
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Old 03-20-20, 10:47 PM
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I can definitely see someone recommending riding in the drops more on gravel/monstercross drop bar bikes. It's kinda why flared bars became a thing. They are wider, so riding in the drops slows steering and stabilizes you, which is ideal for shaky surfaces(loose gravel).
Dirt drop bars were designed this way and the point was to then raise the bars up higher than a paved road bike to compensate for riding in the drops more. Stems were been designed to assist in accomplishing this setup.


Now the original intent/main design idea seems to get to the same end point as the fitter, but different reasons are used to get there. I havent noticed a lack of weight on the front end when riding in the drops or on the hoods. I get the concern of not wanting to slide out due to not enough front end weight, but that just isnt a concern for me, practically speaking.
If anything, when I do shift weight, I try to shift my weight back over the rear tire for better traction on climbs. So I move my weight the opposite way.

Hmm...maybe that's what has been wrong with me this whole time, poor weight placement! Podium finishes here I come!
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Old 03-21-20, 06:57 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
I can definitely see someone recommending riding in the drops more on gravel/monstercross drop bar bikes. It's kinda why flared bars became a thing. They are wider, so riding in the drops slows steering and stabilizes you, which is ideal for shaky surfaces(loose gravel).
Dirt drop bars were designed this way and the point was to then raise the bars up higher than a paved road bike to compensate for riding in the drops more. Stems were been designed to assist in accomplishing this setup.


Now the original intent/main design idea seems to get to the same end point as the fitter, but different reasons are used to get there. I havent noticed a lack of weight on the front end when riding in the drops or on the hoods. I get the concern of not wanting to slide out due to not enough front end weight, but that just isnt a concern for me, practically speaking.
If anything, when I do shift weight, I try to shift my weight back over the rear tire for better traction on climbs. So I move my weight the opposite way.

Hmm...maybe that's what has been wrong with me this whole time, poor weight placement! Podium finishes here I come!
I certainly get the fitters overall point of good weight distribution to keep good balance and both tires keeping solid contact to the surface. How to get there obviously seems to have a variety of opinions. I certainly feel like the fitter was making the point of getting weight downwards on the front tire to make sure itís gripping into the gravel as much as possible. But I guess when riding on flat road I donít have that much trouble keeping control the front regardless of position on bars. idk Iím fine with working on riding in the drops more as I always like to change position for comfort.
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Old 03-21-20, 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by biketampa View Post
Iím fine with working on riding in the drops more as I always like to change position for comfort.
For sure. It's a great way to extend overall comfort which let's you ride further. More positions means less fatigue on specific muscles since you stretch them or rest them depending on position.
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Old 03-21-20, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
For sure. It's a great way to extend overall comfort which let's you ride further. More positions means less fatigue on specific muscles since you stretch them or rest them depending on position.
I had a 100 mile gravel race last month where I got in a good pace group of like 6-7 people and everybody was pulling anywhere between 2-5 minutes and it was so nice once I got to the back and I could just stretch for a few minutes. Made for a much less painful ride.
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Old 03-21-20, 05:40 PM
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Originally Posted by biketampa View Post
I certainly get the fitters overall point of good weight distribution to keep good balance and both tires keeping solid contact to the surface. How to get there obviously seems to have a variety of opinions. I certainly feel like the fitter was making the point of getting weight downwards on the front tire to make sure itís gripping into the gravel as much as possible. But I guess when riding on flat road I donít have that much trouble keeping control the front regardless of position on bars. idk Iím fine with working on riding in the drops more as I always like to change position for comfort.
Has this fitter actually ridden in loose gravel or deep mud?
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Old 03-21-20, 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
Has this fitter actually ridden in loose gravel or deep mud?
Iíve never ridden with him but heís not and inexperienced cyclist
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Old 03-21-20, 09:15 PM
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Originally Posted by biketampa View Post
I’ve never ridden with him but he’s not and inexperienced cyclist
I'm not a pro fitter, but my experience thus far in deep gravel, mud, and snow is that too much weight on the front wheel makes it plow in and get harder to control. It's rare that my front wheel isn't making enough contact with the ground, usually that only happens on steep climbs.
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Old 03-22-20, 04:41 AM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
I'm not a pro fitter, but my experience thus far in deep gravel, mud, and snow is that too much weight on the front wheel makes it plow in and get harder to control. It's rare that my front wheel isn't making enough contact with the ground, usually that only happens on steep climbs.
I agree with you. And to be fair, he wasnít giving me a full rundown on gravel riding techniques just some general tips as we were going through with the fit.
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Old 03-26-20, 06:20 PM
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"Gravel" biking where I live is essentially mountain biking - it's all steep rutted fire roads and rocky gnarly singletrack. I go into the drops any time I'm tackling rough stuff with any kind of speed, not so much for the traction issue, but mainly because you can literally get bounced right off the hoods if your hands are up there. Plus, I want all the braking power at my disposal.
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Old 04-05-20, 04:09 PM
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Originally Posted by pbass View Post
"Gravel" biking where I live is essentially mountain biking - it's all steep rutted fire roads and rocky gnarly singletrack. I go into the drops any time I'm tackling rough stuff with any kind of speed, not so much for the traction issue, but mainly because you can literally get bounced right off the hoods if your hands are up there. Plus, I want all the braking power at my disposal.
+1. I ride my bike like I would ride a mountain bike in rough stuff. My butt shifted back going downhills and in the drops because I need to brake will at will. Hate to lose control while getting bounced around at speed. Fun but I have my limits...
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Old 04-05-20, 05:37 PM
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It's essential to descend in the drops. Everything else is opinion.
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Old 04-06-20, 10:52 PM
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Originally Posted by pbass View Post
"Gravel" biking where I live is essentially mountain biking - it's all steep rutted fire roads and rocky gnarly singletrack. I go into the drops any time I'm tackling rough stuff with any kind of speed, not so much for the traction issue, but mainly because you can literally get bounced right off the hoods if your hands are up there. Plus, I want all the braking power at my disposal.
Originally Posted by RockiesDad View Post
+1. I ride my bike like I would ride a mountain bike in rough stuff. My butt shifted back going downhills and in the drops because I need to brake will at will. Hate to lose control while getting bounced around at speed. Fun but I have my limits...
+3. More control on the drops but most of the weight on the back wheel going uphill so my rear tire is not spinning in some of the steeper gravel climbs and on the loose gravel going downhillI I hang my a$$ off the back so the rear wheel doesnt slip out from under me.

If its traversing rocks and stumps and trying to get over/through stuff it's more of a "grab" on the horns to pull the front end up and over and around stuff if need be. It's hard to pull up on the front end from the drops. A shorter stem helps balance the weight as well. Typically 10-20mm shorter than on my road bike.
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