The video”From The Ground Up Season Two Part One” was enjoyable in several ways including the clinic where the riders learned some important bike handling skills. This is a weak area for me on a road bike and it is amplified on a gravel bike. Are there some resources available to help work on some of the skills that this video touches upon? I’m riding SBT GRVL Blue in August, did the Green course last year, and can use some help to improve handling.
I think the best thing I’ve done for learning bike handling skills is racing cyclocross. The speeds aren’t too high, and you’re often right on the edge of your traction limits in corners. You get used to having the bike move around you on looser surfaces, which translates to being more relaxed on the faster gravel descents.
The other thing for cornering (which applies no matter which type of riding your doing) is emphasizing weight on your outside foot (with that foot down), weight on your inside hand, and weight on your saddle. This keeps you well balanced, and helps with countersteering if you need to adjust your line in the corner.
A final thing for gravel descents is looking ahead to try to pick the best line. Be prepared to switch sides of the road. Often the inside of the corner has better camber, allowing you to take that corner with more speed and confidence. I find I switch from one side of the road to the other quite a bit. Look at other people’s lines - if you’re not at the front, you can usually see the preferred line that people are taking.
Best of luck at SBT GRVL in August! I’d love to go and do that race some time.
This is where I am at the moment, learning skills on the gravel bike. I get put in some horrific situations because the guys I ride with are all top level MTBers and have exemplary handling skills. They’re the guys who will ride a gravel bike down black downhill runs and give the full sus riders a run for their money. They ride beautifully.
Anyway, the best starting tip y gave me was on descents. One foot at 3pm, one at 9pm and get up off the saddle with all the weight on the pedals. Legs are suspension, don’t touch the saddle, as you corner just put more weight on that outside leg. Doesn’t have to push it all the way to 6oclock either, otherwise then you end up back on the saddle, and then too much weight is on your saddle instead of that outside leg.
They also got me playing around with doing skids on wet grass to get a feel for what to do when I stuff up in the corners. Similar to @way9e0 's advice on cyclocross.
I also deliberately find something that is a challenge and ride it ride it ride it until I get comfortable with it.
If there is a dirt pump track or even a dirt BMX near you, go and play on it regularly. Green (grade 1-4) MTB tracks are also good for finessing skills. If you’ve got a friend who rides hard tail, go ride with them, you’ll learn a lot.