Decending

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Decending

Postby liamb » Thu Jan 12, 2012 9:17 pm

Hi All

I have been riding for a bit now and really enjoy the hills and climbing. I am small light and not suited to flat fast riding. I love the climb and enjoy all that goes with it apart from going down the other side!. I am essentially a gutless decender. I cant seem to get my head around flying down hills on a bike with no protection. I dont have the $ to replace my bike if I slide it down the road and being self employed really need to go to work on Mondays to earn a $. Are there tips, guides usefull ideas to assist me to gain some confidence to get me down the hills with everyone else.

Cheers

Bill
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by BNA » Thu Jan 12, 2012 9:56 pm

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Re: Decending

Postby Mulger bill » Thu Jan 12, 2012 9:56 pm

Relax. Tense up and you're more likely to get the wobblies.
Don't ride the brakes, hit them hard when needed then get off so you don't cook the pads or overheat the wheel with attendant blowout risks.
...whatever the road rules, self-preservation is the absolute priority for a cyclist when mixing it with motorised traffic.
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Re: Decending

Postby mikesbytes » Thu Jan 12, 2012 10:11 pm

I'm a fearless descender, a motorcycle background helps.

Could give suggestions about weight bias and positioning, but it pretty much boils down to practice

Try following faster riders and make sure that your tyre pressure is correct
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Re: Decending

Postby sogood » Thu Jan 12, 2012 10:12 pm

Descending ability will come with experience and familiarity with the road. Otherwise there's no shame in being careful with the descend. As you say, you rely on yourself for an income and self preservation should necessarily come first. No shame in that. Although as Shaun suggested, relax your body and be smooth with your descend, that'll take care of the rest. A quick Google will also show you many articles on the technical aspects of descending.
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Re: Decending

Postby Cardy George » Thu Jan 12, 2012 10:23 pm

All of the above, plus definitely just get out and do it. Practice makes perfect as they say. Pick a road that's not overly steep so you're not travelling as fast and practice practice practice. Start with learning to trust your bike when it's leaning and being as smooth as possible when changing direction. Once your comfy with that you could look at some advanced stuff like which hand to push down with...............

Alternatively, find a riding buddy who's a bit fearless. I learnt to corner fast by trying to stay with my mate, who at 90kg definitely had gravity on his side.
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Re: Decending

Postby RonK » Thu Jan 12, 2012 10:39 pm

mikesbytes wrote:I'm a fearless descender, a motorcycle background helps.

Yes, that is how I learned to descend too. Even so, not all motorcyclists are good descenders.

But does the OP understand basics like picking his line and countersteering? If not, this is where he should start - first learn how to turn the bike, then learn where and when to turn it.

It's about motorcycles, but anyone interested in understanding how to handle a bike at speed could benefit from reading "A Twist of the Wrist Vol II". I dunno about the DVD - I've not seen it, but the book is very good value.
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Re: Decending

Postby Mugglechops » Thu Jan 12, 2012 10:41 pm

As has already been said, its just practice. Plus I have years of moto experience too.

I love decending. This is my favorite one

And from a moto.

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Re: Decending

Postby jacks1071 » Thu Jan 12, 2012 10:46 pm

Decending can be seriously dangerous, you'll get quicker with experience. I wouldn't put yourself into a situation where you are uncomfortable when decending.

I also recommend limiting your top speed to something you are comfortable with, if it goes wrong you're going to get messed up.
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Re: Decending

Postby Richard.L » Thu Jan 12, 2012 10:46 pm

All my knowledge was gained here at Cycling Tips
As mentioned above it take practice and time
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Re: Decending

Postby Ozkaban » Fri Jan 13, 2012 7:01 am

I was riding down Berowra Waters a week or so ago with another far more experienced rider. I'd driven the road a bunch of times but never ridden down it so didn't know the road from a cycling point of view.

I just matched my pace to the other rider - if he went around a seemingly blind corner at a certain pace, I followed. It was an absolute hoot and I never felt like I was pushing it too hard. Recommended way to learn 8)

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Re: Decending

Postby MichaelB » Fri Jan 13, 2012 7:40 am

Ozkaban wrote: ....I just matched my pace to the other rider - if he went around a seemingly blind corner at a certain pace, I followed. It was an absolute hoot and I never felt like I was pushing it too hard. Recommended way to learn 8)

Cheers,
Dave



I wouldn't recommend that method, but that's me.

William,

I'd just relax and try and enjoy the sensation. baby steps re going faster.

There is no point worrying what MIGHT happen, as is MIGHT NOT as well. Having said that, every now and then I get the thought as I'm flying downhill of "Crikey, if I get a puncture, this could hurt ..."

I quickly get back to concentrating, and enjoying the fruits of my labour of climbing the hill !!
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Re: Decending

Postby Nate » Fri Jan 13, 2012 8:31 am

practice & do NOT go out of your comfort zone...

if you're uncomfortable & out of your zone then you might panic!
Lots of practice, go with some other riders to help them show you the lines too.

I normally do a lot of late apexing - it gives more room for errors typically, i.e. you turn in a lot later than usual for a straighter run out of the corner.
if you go in too hot with a "standard" apex line - then you'll overshoot & go on the wrong side, with a late apex - you turn in & have a lot more room.

Familiarity with the road is a must - a bump/hole mid corner is always a bad thing.

Position in the saddle - i NEVER descend with my weight on the saddle, as you can get bucked out pretty solidly, typically i sit just behind the saddle, so the weight is actually on my goin muscles. Gives a much more compliant ride & a bit more aero.
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Re: Decending

Postby Ken Ho » Fri Jan 13, 2012 8:38 am

For once I'm in complete agreement with so good.
No shame in taking care on descents. I'm a bit of a gutless descender too, despite having a strong motorcycle background and having done a couple of Keith Code courses. Keith Code wrote the "Twist of the Wrist" boos RonK referenced. Keith came to Sydney when Austalian Superbike School launched his system and I was privileged kto have tuition form him. Despite that, I lack confidence in the skinny tyres, simple brakes and no suspension that comes on a road bike, so I tend to caution. I am dis-inclined to have a step-off at 70+ on gnarly mountain roads with stee drop-offs.
Give me a nice Ducati with flash suspenders and nice fat sticky tyres for quick cornering.
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Re: Decending

Postby liamb » Fri Jan 13, 2012 8:56 am

Cheers for all the help guys some great tips especially RichardL's link . I always get angry when I read "just keep riding" because if you have the wrong technique you just keep riding the wrong way and end up with a very long hard trial to get rid of a bad habit. I think I am not looking far enough forward and sit on the saddle to much. I will try some of those tips on the weekend. My biggest issue is I am a very bad panic reactor, so have conditioned myself to prevent over cure so I ride slow to prevent myself getting into trouble. I have ridden motor bike for quite a few years but it seems a lot easier and somewhat safer to go faster wrapped in leathers with a better balance of weight under you on a motor bike.

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Re: Decending

Postby sblack » Fri Jan 13, 2012 9:20 am

I'm another fairly gutless decender. Most of what has been suggested so far sounds good. Following an rider familiar with the area around blind corners is not something I'd personally do though. A rough patch or pot hole,that they're aware of and ready to just miss could bring you undone.

One other thing to mention is I got the biggest boost in confidence when changing my wheels. I believe that going to wider rims gave the tyre a better shape which greatly improved the feel of changing direction or more so I believe it's responsible for a smoother transition as the bike lean angle changes. I also run lower pressure on the wider rims which may help.
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Re: Decending

Postby gururug » Fri Jan 13, 2012 9:28 am

You have to want the corner.......

Find some quiet back streets with a single corner ( preferably one that tightens ).

Do laps / loops, slowly increasing speed as you confidence grows. When you can take it at fair speed, try a tighter one somewhere else.

NOTE: Beware of sand, gravel and loose stones. They can turn a brilliant descender into a human toboggan!
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Re: Decending

Postby uncle arthur » Fri Jan 13, 2012 9:49 am

Mugglechops wrote:As has already been said, its just practice. Plus I have years of moto experience too.

I love decending. This is my favorite one

And from a moto.



There's nothing clean about that descent at all - given the rider should have lost their licence about 6 times over and accrued a mortgage worth of fines for repeatedly crossing the double whites. :roll:
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Re: Decending

Postby RonK » Fri Jan 13, 2012 10:17 am

liamb wrote:My biggest issue is I am a very bad panic reactor

That is where Keith Codes book comes in - it help you understand the panic reactions and how to deal with them.

As others have noted, descending on a bike with skinny tyres and no suspension requires more caution than on a Ducati with Pirelli Diablo SuperCorsas fitted, but the principles - picking the right line, decided where and how much to brake, getting the bike turned, these all remain pretty much the same.
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Re: Decending

Postby Mugglechops » Fri Jan 13, 2012 11:34 am

uncle arthur wrote:
Mugglechops wrote:As has already been said, its just practice. Plus I have years of moto experience too.

I love decending. This is my favorite one

And from a moto.



There's nothing clean about that descent at all - given the rider should have lost their licence about 6 times over and accrued a mortgage worth of fines for repeatedly crossing the double whites. :roll:


I never said it was a smooth decent. Its just showing the road on video from the strava link.
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Re: Decending

Postby PawPaw » Fri Jan 13, 2012 11:47 am

I've known two cyclists who died on descents - one on Brisbane's Coot-tha and the other a member of my club.
These guys were both experienced descenders intimate with the routes they were on.
The first was taken out by an ascending car that crossed the double white lines to pass ascending cyclists.
The second hit a kangaroo.

Even if you are smart enough to have triple checked your mechanicals and experienced enough to apex well, there's still a bunch of the unexpected that will get you.
- On Brisbane's Coot-tha, there's often walkers who decide to walk up the descent lane on the bitumen, around blind corners and all.
- I've seen cyclists going down these descents at 55+ only to go around a blind corner and nearly crash into someone doing 25-30kph.

And then there's gravel, rocks, water, oil, tree debris other obstacles from wind, storms, rain, cars, hoons, vandals.
And wildlife like crows, possums, lizards, snakes, kangaroos, stalks etc (all of which I've seen).
And youthful motorcyclists intent on ascending as aggressively as you are descending, not gutless enough to stay on their side of the road.

Once you have come to terms with that my suggestions for better descending
- be 100% confident in your mechanicals (tires, wheels, brakes, steering, etc). this means educate yourself about torque specs, maintaining cables and pads, rims, wheels etc.
- appreciate the physics and physical limits of descending. rim heat can burst front tubes, especially if you are over 80kg.
- stay in "control". don't descend so that you feel you are not controlling your line or braking. you should always have some margin available to change your line and brake, in reaction to the unexpected.
- practise line, braking, and lean through corners and S's on the flats so that you get comfortable riding more aggressively. then progressively do the same on steeper descents.
- regarding cornering, lead with your eyes and head. really 'look' at the line you want to take. The faster you are going the further ahead you have to look. Be conscious of keeping your head and neck relaxed so it can follow your eyes...your trunk will then lean into the corners earlier and more smoothly.
- through corners, keep your outside leg down with some weight through it. this helps keep centre of gravity lower.
- get your butt to the extreme back of the saddle. This spreads weight better between front and rear wheels for better braking, avoiding overheating the front rim, and more balanced coefficients of friction on front and rear tires.
- get in the drops to help keep you centre of gravity lower, and grab the brake levers lower for firmer force application. but don't compromise steering control or vision.
- get brake technique right. people have different ideas about this. On steep descents where rim heat is a serious risk, mine is to keep the rear brake on firmly and constantly, and the front brake firmly on for 1-4 seconds then off for 30-60% of on time, depending on gradient.
- know the descent, but still allow a margin for responding to the unexpected.

- I don't recommend following someone else at their speed. If you are lighter and more agile, you'll risk rear ending as they brake more heavily for corners, and if you are heavier you'll build speed quicker and have to hit the brakes harder than them for corners. Think of a Landcruiser trying to get down a hill as fast as a porsche (the former has more weight and higher centre of gravity)

"Gutlessness" imo, is the realization you don't have adequate control to keep the bike going where you want, or have some leeway to respond to the unexpected.

So it isn't about guts; it is about control.
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Re: Decending

Postby rustychisel » Fri Jan 13, 2012 12:10 pm

come riding with me... I'll be slow going up but pretty quick and smooth going downhill.

Agree with most of what PawPaw wrote. Balance and position on the bike is paramount, followed by the relaxed stance. Those who want you to be fearless and foolhardy are not worth responding to, since confidence is hard won and easily lost. I've crashed on hills rides a couple of times, last time I had a blow out but didn't crash but it took me about 2 years to get my mojo back.
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Re: Decending

Postby vander » Fri Jan 13, 2012 12:30 pm

Especially beware of the unexpected. I blew my rear tyre at 70-80km/h going down a hill it was one of the scariest things in my life you all of a sudden have no control over your bike and even braking makes you fish tail all over the place. Somehow I survived I was lucky there was no tight corners coming up, really it was all luck.
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Re: Decending

Postby notwal » Fri Jan 13, 2012 10:24 pm

Just thought I'd add that keeping your weight off the saddle gives you better road holding. The bike is light. Your legs are the suspension.
You will tend to bounce if you hit anything in the road. With weight in the saddle the tyres leave the surface and if you are relying on them at the time to take you around a corner you will bounce sideways, upset your steering and squirt kittens. However if you are out of the saddle you will absorb some of the upwards acceleration in your legs and automatically push the tyres back onto the road.

Another thing is that you have to learn when to take a corner slowly. Because the roads are designed for cars fast corners are the norm however any sharpish corner on a steep downhill can undo you. Once you get to a point where you have to brake hard the back wheel will lift and you then can't steer through the turn.
You may find yourself slowing nicely but you are on the wrong side of the road or worse. Bugger!

The other thing is speed wobbles. I have only ever had the vaguest hint of that phenomenon on my bike, probably because I don't go fast enough to get the full terrors but the hint was enough to go from "Here's Cadel flyin down the Alpe d'Huez" fantasy to "God I'll make a deal with you". It's a harmonic thing as in oscillations, natural frequencies and such. I am told that they can be minimised by clamping your knees against the top tube thus increasing the oscillating mass and interfering with the natural frequency. I can't confirm it but I do know that if you slow down they go away.
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Re: Decending

Postby notwal » Fri Jan 13, 2012 10:33 pm

PawPaw wrote:I've known two cyclists who died on descents - one on Brisbane's Coot-tha ...


Is that incident related to the Perko memorial back off the road about 100 m from where the luge lady crashed?
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Re: Decending

Postby PawPaw » Fri Jan 13, 2012 10:50 pm

notwal wrote:Is that incident related to the Perko memorial back off the road about 100 m from where the luge lady crashed?


yes it was perko.
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