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  1. #1
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    speed fear (new cyclist seeks general advice)

    Hi all. Just getting back into cycling, haven't ridden much since I was a kid. Getting accustomed to a new used bike. My bike mechanic friend rebuilt the thing for me so I feel like it's safe, and it rides nicely.

    My main question here (sorry if inappropriate) is that I've been practicing riding around in parking lots and on deserted roads at night (yes, I have lights), but there are some hills in this area, and while I can get up them, the speed I pick up going downhill kind of scares me. The brakes work fine and I don't have a problem stopping safely, but...well, will I get over this? Is it ridiculous? Is there anything I can do? Is this insane? Would appreciate any advice.

  2. #2
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    It's normal, don't worry. You'll get accustomed to a certain speed then something faster is still scary so in a sense we're all in the same boat as you, Just the numbers change,

  3. #3
    Senior Member spdracr39's Avatar
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    The more you ride the easier it gets. If you don't like flying down hills then don't. It took me a few times before I got used to it now I enjoy it.

  4. #4
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    you can try embracing the thrill by screaming "yee ha" like a cowboy
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  5. #5
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    So riding the brake isn't a terrible idea?

  6. #6
    Senior Member Homebrew01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zondervan View Post
    So riding the brake isn't a terrible idea?
    It's fine.
    The front brake has the most stopping power.
    Practice hard braking so you are prepared for higher speeds.
    Bikes: Old steel race bikes, old Cannondale race bikes, less old Cannondale race bike, crappy old mtn bike

  7. #7
    Senior Member JOHNinIL's Avatar
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    Buy extra pads so when you burn through them you have a fresh set to put on.

    +1 to practicing hard braking, get to a point you can stop quickly and not lock up the rear tire.

  8. #8
    Senior Member delcrossv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
    you can try embracing the thrill by screaming "yee ha" like a cowboy
    That's what I do.
    Lightning P-38 / M5 M-Racer/Ryan Vanguard

  9. #9
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    embrace the fear. it has a purpose.

  10. #10
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Or just use your brakes and keep your speed reasonable ..

    Rather than hold them on dragging, constantly,
    It is better to grip the brake more firmly, the release then apply again, repeatedly
    so the rims have a chance to cool a little between friction applications.

    At the top of a Big Hill with a nice view at the summit, stop and have lunch, bring a Picnic.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 07-03-14 at 09:21 AM.

  11. #11
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    Just ride. Don't worry about how fast or slow you're going. My wife is ponderously slow but we still enjoy riding together. Better to ride slow than not at all.... and eventually the speed will come, but if not, oh well.
    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

  12. #12
    rebmeM roineS JanMM's Avatar
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    The steep downhills would probably be less intimidating in the daytime.
    RANS V3 (steel), RANS V-Rex, RANS Screamer

  13. #13
    Senior Member Northwestrider's Avatar
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    Time will take care of most of it, brakes and common sense will take care of the rest.

  14. #14
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    You'll find it much less frightening if you close your eyes.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  15. #15
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    I'm more in fear of falling at 0 MPH than 40.

    Going downhill fast your wheels have a lot of momentum, and that helps keep them stable, it feels like riding a rail. The thing to watch out for is sharp turns or lights at the bottom of a hill.

    As others have said start by braking on and off as you go down hills, leaning mostly on the front brake, but trying not to lock either wheel.

  16. #16
    Senior Member BobbyG's Avatar
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    Falstaff:
    The better part of valor is
    discretion, in the which better part I have sav'd my life.
    Henry The Fourth, Part 1 Act 5, scene 4, 115121
    Last edited by BobbyG; 07-03-14 at 09:47 AM.
    "When life hands you lumens, make lumen-aide!"

  17. #17
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    You are doing exactly right. It takes time to learn the limits for both you and the bike when it comes to downhill speed. It's better to be a bit cautious at first rather than go faster than is safe. Eventually you probably will get more comfortable going faster downhill. There are always going to be some conditions where you need to ride the brakes downhill - a very steep hill or wet pavement. My favorite ride so far this year is going down from Dante's view to Furnace Creek campground in Death Valley. I feather the brakes constantly for the first mile or two, keeping my speed to about 25 mph and then going much faster once the road straightens out. A child and adult who were behind me crashed and were hurt (broken clavicle and 3 broken ribs on the adult and broken wrist on the child) because the boy did not know just how fast he could go without losing control. The adult was too close so he went down when the kid crashed in front of him. It pays to be a bit cautious.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by JanMM View Post
    The steep downhills would probably be less intimidating in the daytime.
    hadn't thought of that, but you are right.

    there's always an extra sense of speed at night. probably because it's inherently unsafe compared to daylight riding, even with a light. which explains why i find it so enjoyable!
    Last edited by hueyhoolihan; 07-03-14 at 08:47 PM.

  19. #19
    The Improbable Bulk Little Darwin's Avatar
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    As you gain confidence in the bike, and yourself, you will conquer fear to a whatever extent is comfortable for you. As for me, I have virtually no interest in going over 30 mph on a descent, so fast riders will obviously blow past me. I used to start using the brakes to make sure that I didn't go faster than 25, so it is all up to you, and may change with time.

    Not everyone rides to ride fast.
    Slow Ride Cyclists of NEPA

    People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.
    - Ralph Waldo Emerson

  20. #20
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    Never completely get over the fear... it's good for you. Keeps you alive.


    On a local road that is frequented by cyclists, a guy was killed because he basically forgot that what he was doing was dangerous. At the bottom of a very long decline, there was construction he didn't know about... face planted into a concrete barrier at a speed around 40 mph.

    Be a sissy... be alive. Always ride at a speed that suits the surroundings. If there are blind driveways or side streets, always keep your speed low enough to compensate for someone pulling out in front of you. To many drivers, cyclists are invisible.

  21. #21
    Senior Member spdracr39's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    Or just use your brakes and keep your speed reasonable ..

    Rather than hold them on dragging, constantly,
    It is better to grip the brake more firmly, the release then apply again, repeatedly
    so the rims have a chance to cool a little between friction applications.

    Do this and each time you ride go a little faster before braking. Be sure and on the way up take note of road conditions you might want to avoid at speed. I try to ride the crown of the lane because there are less pot holes and cracks there but all roads are different. I never go fast down the shoulder.

  22. #22
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    It pays to be a tad cautious, you never know when you might encounter sand, a pot hole, or even an animal crossing your path.

  23. #23
    Senior Member danadear's Avatar
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    I am notorious for riding the brakes down hills. I annoy myself even as I am doing it because there is usually an uphill on the other side and it sure would be nice to have the momentum from going fast to get me part way up the hill. I can't help it though. I have visions of hitting a pot hole and flying through the air. I usually get over it about the time the peak riding season ends.

  24. #24
    Senior Member rbrsddn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spdracr39 View Post
    Do this and each time you ride go a little faster before braking. Be sure and on the way up take note of road conditions you might want to avoid at speed. I try to ride the crown of the lane because there are less pot holes and cracks there but all roads are different. I never go fast down the shoulder.
    This is really good advice. There is a section of downhill on one of my routes that speeds of 40+ are attainable, and it's very wooded, so the whole road is in shadows. We hadn't been up there since last year until last week, and naturally I went WFO going down. I stayed on the crown, because it's usually the smoothest part of the road. There were some potholes in the right tire track that could have been trouble. Going fast is fun, but you should build your speed up slowly, to get comfortable with each increase.
    1999 Fat Chance Ti
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  25. #25
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    Are you riding downhill with hands on the brake hoods or in the drops? If you use the drops you will have better control, the brake levers work better, and it is a much calmer, quieter experience because the wind doesn't rip at you like it does when you are sitting more upright.

    Also, the comments about daytime riding are good - night riding is very different. Most people never even do that.

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