First time on a mountain

Make sure to pay attention on the descents and ride well within your limits, especially on blind corners. Turns with a reducing radius can get you in trouble very quickly.

Saw a guy from TX break a hip going over a guardrail when he overcooked a very tight switchback with a -10% gradient. Came in with too much speed and zero chance of correcting in that situation. Was sad to see. Probably less than 800m into the descent. He was having a great time bombing, until he wasn’t…

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Here is my descending tip - for a descent in a fondo that you have never ridden before:

Load the course into your Garmin and then follow on the map during a descent. You can easily see on the map if a tight turn is coming up. If no tight turns are coming up, you can go full gas in comfort concentrating on looking out for potholes and not worrying about a sharp turn around the next bend.

I think newer Garmins even have a sharp turn alert.

I figured this out by accident on my last fondo. It worked brilliantly.

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yes this works even without a course loaded. On a recent visit to Texas was on a bike trail and alerted by my Edge 530 to every sharp / 90 degree turn on the bike trail.

I do this often on routes I’m not super familiar with. Zoom way in on the map so that you can only see one or 2 turns ahead and on longer straights between corners just glance down for a split second. Just long enough to register something like “tight right turn”. Then look back up at the road. It just lets you know if the turn ahead is a sharp turn that you really need to slow for or a sweeper that you can lean into and carve.

It may be a good idea to do this on some of your training rides even if its not a decent just to get familiar with how the tightness of a turn on the map correlates to the actual tightness on the road. And to keep in mind that right turns will be tighter around the same bend than left turns because you are on the right side of the road.

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Just be really, really steady on the first couple of descents, especially if they have switchback. On right hand switchbacks you really don’t want to cross the line into the path of an oncoming vehicle on exit. Get all your braking out of the way on the straight and turn in late and really look where you need to go - you need to be turning your entire head to look round the corner, not just glancing with your eyes. A lot of riders turn in too early, which often results in a wide exit. Learn what target fixation is and how to deal with it: you need to look past obstacles/hazards to where you want to go, not at them.

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Great stuff here! Thanks everyone for the tips, definitely some things to read more closely after work tomorrow and integrate ASAP in my indoor training and the upcoming windy pre-spring before Chattanooga. It’s possible I have the mountains built up in my flatlander brains as a boogeyman and need to constantly keep in mind the last time I survived a similar interval. I plugged the course into bestbikesplit to see if it could offer some perspective as to what work levels I can expect to need, but I was skeptical of the results (seems easier than I expect) - there’s yet a lot of settings I need to look at in the setup before those calcs are realistic and I’m not sure at what low- speed/high- incline a bike may become unsteady if at all? Switchbacks too, I don’t really have a way to try one out but I can probably find some handling drills to help to a degree.

I should be in spec with the recommendations made here for gear. I will be reinstalling my 50/34 with the existing 11-32, and the wheels that came with the bike I’ll use are the Roval CLX32, currently setup tubeless but I need to look into this as mentioned above.

Being a big fondo I do expect the crowd to be comfortably wide ranging in fitness levels and climbing ability, the main reason I chose these events as my first climbing exposure. At least, I hope there’s no shortage of newbie-friendly groups with similar gravity battles I’ll find myself in once the grade goes above 6% so it’s not a lonely ride after the mountain.

Honestly man, just use the 32 up anything resembling a hill and train hard, if the longest climb is 30 minutes it’s honestly not that bad. If you’re struggling up a 30 minute climb with a 32 then you probably just didn’t train enough.

Don’t stress over it too much and find some practice climbs you can use to gauge your progress.

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Sorry, forgot to add one of the most important bits about descending. You probably do this already but when cornering it is vital that you keep outside pedal down and inside pedal up and you also need to be driving weight through the outside pedal. This not only helps avoid pedal strike at high lean angles, but it stabilises the entire bike and improves grip, particularly at the front end. GCN have a good video on it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCsGZTZKRIo

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Wonderful!