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Help Descending

Old 07-04-21, 07:35 PM
  #1  
oik01
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Help Descending

I always have trouble descending at a fair speed. I tend to brake far too much and often will go slower on a steep downhill than on a flat just because I am concerned about stopping distance. I have had one crash in the past related to my rear weal getting caught on a log around a sharp turn. I just had a bad road rash but ive since been extra careful. i also always worry about an injury that compromises my career ( surgical medical specialty). I feel like I will never go really fast and thats probably the right thing to keep safe but I do want to have the minimal speed for enjoyment. Any tips? Also what do you do with bad roads? Thats something I always worry about is losing control on patches of bumpy road or bad pavement or potholes. (I tend to slow down tremendously for those sections)
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Old 07-04-21, 07:41 PM
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Find better terrain, be assertive of the conditions, apply common sense & logic for the speed set out for achieving.
would you run on thin ice while wearing just socks?
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Old 07-04-21, 07:53 PM
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On some hills, 80-90kph is doable and safe ; good vis, good asphalt, no driveways, sweeping bends...
On other hills, 40-50kph might be the limit
Depends on your skills / brakes / experience / balls
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Old 07-04-21, 08:17 PM
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Recognize and accept your limitations.
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Old 07-04-21, 08:22 PM
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CliffordK
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If you're having fun, you don't need to blast down every hill. Also keep in mind gravel or sand on corners. Even a wet surface can be different than a dry surface.

You mention "a log" on a corner. Was that off road? Keep in mind that if you are on a trail, there may be other trail users. Bikes usually are required to yield or slow down for pretty much everyone else on a trail.
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Old 07-04-21, 08:31 PM
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With your profession, I would entertain private disability insurance or get on Zwift.

We all crash eventually.
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Old 07-04-21, 09:01 PM
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I don't really like fast descents either. It may be that I have a mild fear of heights. It affects me when I'm skiing too. I figure that there's nothing special about going fast downhill except for the enjoyment, unless you're in a race, which I'm not. So if it isn't enjoyable, then I don't feel bad about slowing down.
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Old 07-04-21, 09:29 PM
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Don't feel alone. I think most of us that haven't had a lot of experience with descents are leary of them. I also brake more than I probably should. Afraid I will
lose control I think. I am amazed and impressed how fast the TDF riders go down the mountain descents. I almost wet my pants just watching them
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Old 07-04-21, 09:38 PM
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How closely you listen to that voice ridding on your shoulder should be tempered with how long it will take you to recover if that little voice is right.

For me I start slowing down before I even hear that voice.

Next time I fall I am grounded for good...
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Old 07-04-21, 10:00 PM
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Originally Posted by frogman View Post
I am amazed and impressed how fast the TDF riders go down the mountain descents. I almost wet my pants just watching them
They also occasionally don't quite make a corner.

Ok, not the TDF, but if the car wasn't there, the rider may well have had a tour of the woods.


And the riders successfully navigating the corner aren't hitting that corner at full speed, with or without obstructions in the road.
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Old 07-04-21, 10:44 PM
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An older riding buddy told me "you go 5mph slower downhill after you have kids." That was definitely true for me. I'm slowly increasing my speed and confidence descending, but I think I'm doing it more carefully now, with better technique, than I did before. Doing the same descents repeatedly helps, because it's easier to focus on technique when you already know the road and what to expect ahead.

Last edited by nathand; 07-05-21 at 06:33 AM.
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Old 07-04-21, 11:05 PM
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If you're fine with your speed, keep at it, if you want to build up dh speed follow someone faster than you and watch how they do it.
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Old 07-04-21, 11:36 PM
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Go to YouTube and look up some videos on cycling descending, there are many illustrating good technique and theory.
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Old 07-05-21, 12:01 AM
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Originally Posted by MarcusT View Post
If you're fine with your speed, keep at it, if you want to build up dh speed follow someone faster than you and watch how they do it.
If you follow someone down a hill, make sure you have better brakes than they have. As well as a reasonably rigid bike. I hit about 50MPH on a descent on my old Colnago... it was downright scary. Not nearly as bad on the newer bike.
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Old 07-05-21, 12:31 AM
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Pick a descent near you and do it regularly.

As you get more familiar with road, your descending confidence will increase.
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Old 07-05-21, 02:52 AM
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Just do whatever you feel is safe for your situation...There is no need to feel ashamed for slowing down and being cautious while descending.
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Old 07-05-21, 05:12 AM
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I brake on descents. I can't shake the notion that some suicidal squirrel or turkey might choose me as their gateway to the Everlasting. It might not be rational. I don't know that such an encounter at 35 mph would end better than one at 50 mph.
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Old 07-05-21, 05:41 AM
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Generally, the pavement around here is so bad, braking on a steep hill is pretty much mandatory for me. I don't find high-speed pothole slalom with cars behind me a lot of fun. I top out at about 35 miles per hour.
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Old 07-05-21, 06:26 AM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
I brake on descents. I can't shake the notion that some suicidal squirrel or turkey might choose me as their gateway to the Everlasting. It might not be rational. I don't know that such an encounter at 35 mph would end better than one at 50 mph.

From a probability perspective, it's definitely rational that the greater the speed, the higher the risk, both in opportunity to avoid and in effects of the crash. 35 mph is, for me, the happy medium where I feel I can see obstacles ahead of me in time to avoid them. What I can't say is whether a slower max speed than 35 mph would be a better line.

Obviously, all cycling is a series of calculated risks, and it's not surprising we'd vary in what we consider acceptable risk, or that we'd be looking at different risks. We all have our own skills and weaknesses, and we ride on different roads for different purposes. I'm a bit colorblind, which means that some objects have less contrast from their background for me than they would for someone with normal color vision. I can't prove it, but I think that makes it harder for me to spot potholes and other road obstacles.
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Old 07-05-21, 07:18 AM
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I just looked over my gpx file from descending Washington Pass in the North Cascades National Park - about 15 miles of descent. I hit 30-33mph a number of times and applied the brakes to keep it controlled probably driven by the drop off to my right. But latter I noticed the odo showed about 42 and now looking at the gpx file, I hit 45mph. I see I tapered up from the middle 30's to that 45 and then back down again. That happened a few times in that stretch. While I could tell it was pretty fast which is why I looked at the odo, there was no drop off so I probably felt more secure or safer due to the terrain as opposed to the real speed. The road's surface is pretty good (as it is a major cross-state bike route) but it has its irregularities. And, no, I do not generally do those kinds of descents and not in years. It was a blast
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Old 07-05-21, 07:22 AM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
If you follow someone down a hill, make sure you have better brakes than they have. As well as a reasonably rigid bike. I hit about 50MPH on a descent on my old Colnago... it was downright scary. Not nearly as bad on the newer bike.
Oh, that reminds me of the time on a steep descent, my bike started to shimmy wildly. Braking only made it a lot worse. Finally, I squeezed my thighs against the top tube and got it under control. It was completely terrifying. A friend behind me was also terrorized.
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Old 07-05-21, 07:54 AM
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I take blood thinners. An extra 5 or 10 mph isnít worth it. On the road bike Iíll under good conditions Iíll top out at about 32. On the loaded touring bike more like upper 30s.

In 2016 I did top out at 43 on a long descent in Montana, but the conditions were optimal. Smooth road, no traffic, no tight turns and no forest around that could produce large critters. In 2013 I just missed broadsiding a deer that ran out of the woods during a descent in PA. Not something I want to repeat.
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Old 07-05-21, 08:03 AM
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oik01,

It's fear. I am also trying to get over a case of it after a bad fall last year that shattered my wrist. I used to descend with reckless abandon even well into my 50's. I have no fear of speed, at all, it's the crashing part that I fear now, for obvious reasons. I am s l o w l y gaining back my confidence, and acknowledge it will take time.

One thing that helps me is only think line, look ahead and don't fixate on just in front of you and anticipate turns better. Trust your brakes, whatever kind they are, and just to be sure.think about changing pads and give them a service, so you know they are right. Good luck, and stay with it and push a little on each ride.

I'm 63 now and look forward to the day I can scream down a hill like the 18 year old inside of me used to......

I'm getting close!
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Old 07-05-21, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
Recognize and accept your limitations.
These words are universally applicable for most seeking advice.
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Old 07-05-21, 09:49 AM
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Don't go any faster than you are comfortable with. Maybe ride with some others that might get you some experience finding the correct line and speed to take curves at while going downhill. But if you don't have confidence, then I'd say don't.

Speed going down a hill doesn't really affect my times or average speed for a ride as much as just being able to put out a more steady and slightly higher, but manageable power for all the ride.
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