yea definitely if you're new enought to be feeling disconcerted by these things then you must run a brake.
re the stopping ken cox posted a terrific response to someone's question, which explains everything you need to know with regard to using your muscles and weight to do all the things you need to do. do a search for posts by him and keep looking til you find it.
edit: here it is
Our knee constitutes a very strong joint with very little adjustability.
It bends like a door hinge, with no sideplay.
Whatever side and rotational flexibility we think we have in our knees comes from our hips and our ankles.
Our hips and ankles can do some amazing things, but our knees bend only one way, like door hinges.
We all learned to ride on platform pedals, which means we learned to mash.
Mashing teaches us to use our front thigh muscles in strange ways, so that we tend to pull the top of our shin bone into the bottom of our thigh bone.
If we have any wierd alignments in our ankles and hips, it tends to focus in our knees as our thigh muscles pull the shin upward.
If a person leaves toe-out wet footprints at the pool, and most Americans do, he probably needs to visualize his heel as going out on the down stroke.
He or she should also visualize an outward push with the side of the foot as it descends.
Over time, this will awaken the hip and butt muscles and take some of the pulling/mashing load off of the knees.
Additionally, the load on the foot should flow into the pedal through a point halfway between the ball of the big toe and the corresponding ball of the index-toe.
One accomplishes this by rocking his foot left and right, at the ankle, until he can "see" the force flowing out of his foot between the big toe and the index toe.
So, if a person walks toe-out, he should think heel out, foot sideways out, and rock the ankle inward so that the force goes into the pedal between his big toe and index toe.
In order to brake without skipping or skidding, but just by resisting the pedals, one must first spread the braking action sufficiently over time.
When one wants to spin fast going downhill, he should give his weight to the saddle and pull up on the pedals, as if trying to raise the bottom bracket while spinning.
This will dramatically increase spin rate without "bobbing."
Conversely, when one wants to slow down by resistive braking over time, he should transfer his weight to the pedals and make himself light on the saddle and move backwards on the saddle.
As he transfers his weight to the pedals, he should "drop" his heels and pull up on his toes as the pedals come up.
He should absorb as much of the upward movement of the pedals with his calves, hips and butt, so that the hips rock left and right while remaining just barely in contact with the saddle.
Relax the front of the thighs and let the calves, hips and butt do more of the work.
Relaxing the front of the thighs will stop the knee pain.
Heels down, toes up, and let the hips rock left and right.
Relax the fronts of the thighs.
One can generally not go down a hill any slower than he can go up the same hill, fast.
Last edited by eddiebrannan; 09-21-05 at 12:14 PM.