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Old 06-21-04, 09:54 PM   #1
Chris L
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You know what I hate? Descending!

Seriously, it's just an absolute pain in the butt. I mean, I love climbing -- the physical release, the change in scenery, the sense of satisfaction at totally owning that little climb which thought to get in my way. Climbing is all good! Except for the fact that I have to come back down on the other side. This is where I have problems.

Take Sunday night for example, the climb out of Bilambil on Hogans Road, it puts on about 150 metres or so reasonably quickly -- I was loving every second of it. Then I got on the other side. I just felt no enjoyment or confidence on the descent. On the brakes too often for those corners, then there's the fact that the temperature was dropping (it was around 9C at that point). Would have been fine if I was actually doing something, but descending doesn't count as "doing something" in my view.

This has been bugging me for sometime. Is there anyway to get over this? I'd hate for my intense dislike of descents to start messing with my enjoyment of climbing.
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Old 06-21-04, 10:19 PM   #2
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Do you feel this way about all descents or just technical ones? For me, a fast descent is the payback for enduring the climbing. Unfortunately, I spend a whole lot more time suffering up hill than enjoying the descent.
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Old 06-21-04, 10:34 PM   #3
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Stuff newspaper in your shirt.
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Old 06-21-04, 10:41 PM   #4
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I agree with SteveE. For me the challenge is to climb mountains (when I lived in California), but the rush was descending, always pushing yourself to go faster and take corners faster to the brink of the tires limits. Your adrenalin is pumping so fast you don't even think about the temperture dropping on your chest.
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Old 06-22-04, 01:02 AM   #5
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Do not try cycling in the Alpes, then. Coming down many cols, I often go as fast as 90km/h.
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Old 06-22-04, 01:59 AM   #6
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Stuff newspaper in your shirt.
Also what about metal a plate tacked to the shoe heals scrap'n down the road, bound to make some sparks fly .
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Old 06-22-04, 02:05 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveE
Do you feel this way about all descents or just technical ones? For me, a fast descent is the payback for enduring the climbing. Unfortunately, I spend a whole lot more time suffering up hill than enjoying the descent.
That's the thing, I look at climbing as the rush, and the descent as the price I have to pay to get it.
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Old 06-22-04, 02:07 AM   #8
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Do not try cycling in the Alpes, then. Coming down many cols, I often go as fast as 90km/h.
That is actually a long-term goal of mine. Sure, the descents might be a pain, but how beautiful would the climbs in places like Switzerland be? I suppose I'll just have to learn to tolerate descending.
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Old 06-22-04, 08:02 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris L
That is actually a long-term goal of mine. Sure, the descents might be a pain, but how beautiful would the climbs in places like Switzerland be? I suppose I'll just have to learn to tolerate descending.
They are quite beautiful! I studied in Germany for a while and we took a week-long class trip to the Swiss Alps and traveled from hostel to hostel by bicycle. It rained the first four days, but was still an excellent trip!
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Old 06-22-04, 08:19 AM   #10
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Have someone wait at the top of the climbs in a car and drive you down

I look to descents as a reward for the labor of climbing. I love a good fast downhill where I can get into the 50-55mph range and never even turn the crankarms. The curves can be fun as lng as you keep them within your technical ability. Making gaps on cars in curvy mountain downhills is fun. My favorite downhill north of here is after a 7 mile climb ranging from 7-15% grade and there is a stretch of it that you can attain over 60mph if you can spin the 53/11 fast enough. I have coasted in a tuck and hit 56 mph on it.
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Old 06-22-04, 08:46 AM   #11
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Chris,

I guess the key here is
"I just felt no enjoyment or confidence on the descent. On the brakes too often for those corners"
There are some descending skills that can be learned
here are a few links:
http://www.bicyclesource.com/you/roa...g-skills.shtml
http://yarchive.net/bike/descending.html

I recently read the best article on descending I've seen, but for the
life of me can't remember where I saw it. I'll post it when I do remember
(senior moment?).

marty
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Old 06-22-04, 08:54 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris L
That's the thing, I look at climbing as the rush, and the descent as the price I have to pay to get it.
Well, I don't know...
I still get the same thing from descents that I got as a little kid!

Although, there's a lot to be said for the application of personal
power that's involved in hill-climbing. I've got a thirty-six inch
inseam, so my body does well on long hills. Crank up them endorphins.
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Old 06-22-04, 09:12 AM   #13
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i hear you chris. i'm not big on decents either. no particular reason, i just like pedaling the bike instead and having some resistence to fight against.
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Old 06-22-04, 09:35 AM   #14
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Did you ever have a bad crash during a descent, Chris? I've got a friend who has the same attitude as you. He loves to climb (He's shooting for 1,000,000 feet of climbing this year) but hates descending. A bad crash during a descent is a big reason for this. If it's something you think you want to do, then attending a clinic on descending would be a good idea, to give you more confidence. Assuming, of course, that you have the desire but lack the skill and confidence.
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Old 06-22-04, 10:49 AM   #15
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Descents are no fun if you constantly have to hit the brakes and coast to stay within your range of techncial skill and confidence. The key is to expand that range by learning, practicing and improving. Eventually, the joy you feel going up will be equaled by the feeling going down and you will never be unhappy on the bike.

That is, until your wife says it's time to come home and clean up the dog's yard.

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Old 06-22-04, 11:05 AM   #16
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I'll do you a trade, Chris.

You do my climbing for me, and I'll do your descending!

What's your bike setup? Does geometry or tire choice have anything to do with your concerns?
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Old 06-22-04, 11:14 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris L
That is actually a long-term goal of mine. Sure, the descents might be a pain, but how beautiful would the climbs in places like Switzerland be? I suppose I'll just have to learn to tolerate descending.
How about walking down the hills? At least you would get yourself noticed!

The Geneva area is quite beautiful. You can get some lovely views of the Jura one one side and the Alps on the other.
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Old 06-22-04, 12:14 PM   #18
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Come to Portland for a ZooBomb...descent only...gravity rules!!!
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Old 06-22-04, 12:37 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris L
Then I got on the other side. I just felt no enjoyment or confidence on the descent. On the brakes too often for those corners, then there's the fact that the temperature was dropping (it was around 9C at that point).
If your lack of confidence on the descent comes from brakes, it may be time to switch to disk brakes.
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Old 06-22-04, 02:54 PM   #20
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You could get fixed... then you'd be fighting your acceleration the whole way down... using a different set of muscles...

But then you might not make the ascent...

Every downhill I hit is an excuse to work out my braking muscles - sometimes I have people walking faster than me, but I'm still working the legs and keeping the temp up.
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Old 06-22-04, 09:43 PM   #21
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Thanks for the comments. I think a big part of the issue was the fact that the descent that started this thread was at night, in a dark rainforest, and a descent I'd only done two or three times before -- probably didn't help much. However, the fact is I've never felt overly comfortable on descents. I tend to panic a bit and my cornering becomes edgy & jerky rather than the fluent, graceful cornering that it should be (climbing does not do this to my pedalling rhythm). It's probably a confidence thing.

Harry -- I have actually walked down hills in the past, but not for a while now.

Stubacca -- I'd be glad to trade you.

SteveE -- I did once crash on a wet descent in 2002, but it was only "bad" by my standards. I've never actually broken a bone in my life.
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Old 06-23-04, 02:13 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris L
That's the thing, I look at climbing as the rush, and the descent as the price I have to pay to get it.

Gosh Chris, I feel exactly the same way. I grit my teeth and bear it on descents. I LOVE climbs just like you do.

I have found that as I learn a descent, I am more comfortable with it. But I don't like steep descents (10% or over). I have done some pretty long ones out in the Rocky Mountains. I just don't enjoy them. Thing is the climb can take hours and the descent takes minutes so I guess I am ahead of the game on that one.
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Old 06-23-04, 01:58 PM   #23
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I'm not a big fan of decents either, especially curvy, technical decents where I can't see what is around the next corner or bend. It's not so much that I'm afraid of going fast, it's more the fear that I won't be able to stop if I need to. I don't trust my brakes one bit and even after taking my bike into the LBS many times, they still aren't what I consider to be strong. I have a cross bike with cantilever brakes, plus I'm a big guy. I also notice that my bike just doesn't handle well at faster speeds, the front wheel tends to waiver around, which is not what I expected. I thought a bike was suppose to feel more firm at higher speeds.

On a long straight decent where I can actually see where I'm going, I do enjoy the feel of speed and the rush of just tucking in and going as fast as I can. But those are rare to find. There's usually turns and stuff that I just can't see around, not to mention gravel and sand in the road. And if it's a busy road, the thought of a car buzzing me while I'm going super fast definitely freaks me out.

My biggest fear is going down a steep decent, coming around a corner or bend and seeing a T intersection in front of me with a bunch of cars at the stopsign, grabbing the brakes and getting nothing in terms of stopping power from my brakes.
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