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Old 10-25-10, 12:22 PM   #1
Seattle Forrest
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A hill too steep...

The weather has changed lately, first getting colder, and now wet. My riding habits have changed to follow. I'm not doing 10 to 20 mile rides after work lately; I haven't given up riding, but I'm doing shorter trips right now, and not going so far from home. That should change once I get used to the winter again, but, for now, I'm doing more hill repeats (to stay warm) close to home (so I can go take a hot shower and put dry clothes on, quickly).

All this means I've been wandering around Queen Anne Hill. The other day, I came to a section of hill, and thought to myself "That's just too steep. I'll find another way down..."

Turns out I can climb the 13th steepest block in Seattle without falling over and clutching my chest, but descending 18 % grades makes me nervous. And, it feels more frightful to go down riding the brakes, than to "bomb" the hill. Trouble is, after dark, I'm worried about not seeing some kind of flotsam, or a squirrel that darts out from under a car as I go by, and wrecks me.

Anybody else ever get nervous on steep descents? Or are you folks going to take away my Clyde badge for this?

Interestingly, SDOT has a list of hills cyclists should climb. Is there anything like this for your area?
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Old 10-25-10, 12:28 PM   #2
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Not unless they have steep turns at the bottom but even then...Isnt that what its all about? But I would say that to each their own and to ride at your own comfort level
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Old 10-25-10, 12:38 PM   #3
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Any hill steep with traffic, or where I hit over 45 mph, or with sharp turns at the bottom make me nervous. Sometimes it is just exciting, though.

There are lots of hills around here I don't like to go down around this time of year. Too many wet and slippery leaves on the road for me. I'll go down those hills after the leaves clear off the road after the first good snow. I also don't like it going down steep hills when there are icy patches on the road.
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Old 10-25-10, 12:46 PM   #4
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My first time down a steep hill causes some caution, but once I know what to expect, I look forward a little gravity assist.

Heavier riders can pick-up speed quickly on steep descents, I've exceeded 50 mph on short 15 to 22% drops in Wisconsin.

Everyone has their own comfort level, however, a good handling road bike should be safe and predictable to ride at speeds higher than 40 mph. If traffic and conditions permit, enjoy!
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Old 10-25-10, 01:36 PM   #5
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I'm a commuter and usually in no type of hurry. Bombing hills is scary for me so I usually exercise caution. If you are worried about the darkness get some good lights. I use 2 P7's from deal extreme, but the MagicShine would be on my short list when money comes around.
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Old 10-25-10, 02:53 PM   #6
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I'm not one that likes to bomb down a hill. I only descend because I have to get back down. I don't have any problems descending but just don't see the need to be bombing down for nuttin'. Every once in a while, I run into a Weisenheimer that brags about bombing down, then I'll let her rip just to see what he's got!

On a city street or residential area, I wouldn't do this!
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Old 10-25-10, 03:10 PM   #7
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In a high traffic area like Queen Ann, I would never bomb a hill. Some of the more rural roads around here, That's ok.
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Old 10-25-10, 03:53 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
Everyone has their own comfort level, however, a good handling road bike should be safe and predictable to ride at speeds higher than 40 mph. If traffic and conditions permit, enjoy!
I have a great handling road bike now, as of the last two months. For a year and a half before that, my only bike was a used CX that was bullet proof, but the rear wheel "shook" a bit going fast down hills, so I never did. Before that, it was hybrids and such. So I've got years of history on bikes I thought were a bit unsafe going faster than 30 mph. I'm not sure if I get nervous now because it's what I'm used to, or because it's not a good idea to take these very quickly.

Lately, though, I've had these experiences on roads that are empty as a ghost town, but narrow, and this is at night. I have fun taking sharp curves at speed going down hill when the sun is out, but these 18 % grades I've only encountered after dark lately, just feel wrong, looking down.
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Old 10-26-10, 06:28 AM   #9
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I learned a lesson about going down hill. From Ward Co ( Peak to peak to 36 outside North of Boulder Co)

Any who I was new to cycling and rolled down at about 35 mph when i hit a rock. Tire was flat in two revolutions and i was headed across the traffic lane towards the creek. There was enough room for me to get stopped before going into the creek.

It did not damage the rim I still ride that bike. I still think about what could have happened. Prone on the pavement on a tight curve ready to be run over.
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Old 10-26-10, 06:37 AM   #10
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This thread minds me of a trip to CO my brother and I took back during the Coors Classic heyday. We had driven up Flagstaff mountain outside of Boulder and were driving back down when we were passed by a couple of cyclists. Just for fun, I tried to keep up with them for a little while. I'd come close to catching them at the end of each straight section of the switchback, but they got through the turns much faster, leaving me to catch up all over again. After 5 or 6 of those sections, my nerves finally had enough and I quit.
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Old 10-26-10, 06:49 AM   #11
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There is a huge hill here in Downtown Richmond VA, huge. I couldn't tell you the grade only that's it's huge and long with a couple of cross streets.

I'm no longer nervous but it's weird, I get nervous thinking back to when I was less experienced and took it at full speed cranking all the way on an untuned bike of average quality without a helmet.

It's odd how things I've done in the past make me cringe in the present.
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Old 10-26-10, 07:37 AM   #12
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I get nervous going down steep hills.
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Old 10-26-10, 10:20 AM   #13
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Like many have said it depends. The hill close to my house I bomb down because I know the road and it is smooth. Other hills I'd be more cautious the first time. There is one hill I've done several times, but I go slow, it ends in a T-intersection on a busy road and the road is slightly rougher than a corn cob.

My experience with Queen Anne is the roads are narrow and congested. But, hey I'm looking at getting job, that is located at the foot of Queen Anne so maybe I'll get to ride it sometime.
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