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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 05-07-07, 08:57 AM   #1
KrautFed
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How do you slow down &/or stop on a hill?

I've still got <50 miles on my FG but downhills are really un-nerving for me. I recently tackled 2 fairly decent hills over the weekend on a short ride. I can decend down them just fine but I had to use my brake on both descents, mainly because I didnt want to hit the bridge full speed at the bottom and risk wiping out. I'm running 46x17 on 700x23

Here was my route: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=930942

I can slow down decent on flat terrain without using the brake, but not really for emergencies. I still have yet to try to skid/skip, so I'm guessing thats how I have to stop quickly in those situations. How exactly should I learn how to skid? Is it performed only standing, only sitting, or either? Where should the pedals be positioned? The torque on the pedals is GREAT, so do I have to take all the weight off the rear to "lock" the rear tire?

Next set of questions is more towards 25+ mph. How exactly should I regulate speed going down a very long and very steep hill? I can only "fight" it up to about 16-17mph and after that I just have to give in and spin and let the bike settle out around 25-27mph. 30+mph is just suicide if I try any kind of resistance to slow down.

Am I just a noob and need more spinning experience on this thing to slow down on steep descents? Is it a very quick resistance for the forward pedal (at the moment) UP and a DOWN resistance on the rear pedal (which would last milliseconds before opposite resistance because of the cadence)?
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Old 05-07-07, 09:08 AM   #2
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I skid off the saddle. I put my chocolate (good) foot forward. I then put most all of my weight on the back foot, and pull up with the front foot. the further forward you can put your body (putting more weight on the bars) the easier it will be to get the skid going.
Hope that helps
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Old 05-07-07, 09:09 AM   #3
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I pull the brake lever.
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Old 05-07-07, 09:09 AM   #4
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You're just a noob. It is hard to control a brakeless fg on a steep descent but it can be done. A normal person would keep speed under control with resistance, skips and skids. All these things come with practice; resistance is easiest on the tires and as you get better it becomes possible at higher rpms and almost all the way through your pedal rotation. A few weeks ago I watched a guy descend Mt Seymour in North Vancouver on a brakeless khs flite. That's about 900 m total elevation lost over 11 km and highly inadvisable on a brakeless fixed. This guy has hardcore bmx hooligan skillz so he controlled his speed with long arcing fishtail skids that actually made his tires smoke.

Last edited by mander; 05-07-07 at 09:15 AM.
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Old 05-07-07, 09:20 AM   #5
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Thanks for the help guys. I really don't have problems around familiar roads, but want peace of mind that I can control the thing going around or down a blind or unknown turn/hill.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bonechilling
I pull the brake lever.
This is what I did, but again, I'd rather save it for emergencies... like this weekend Little Suzie was in a little red wagon in a steep driveway and came flying down into the street while I was going about 27mph. THAT was brake time. I really dont want to ride the brake or pulse the brake on long descents.
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Old 05-07-07, 09:24 AM   #6
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Can folks decending at 25mph keep in control with a front flat?
What I mean is with the added forces one is putting on bike skidding/skipping vs. using rear caliper brake. Of course both cases can be difficult.
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Old 05-07-07, 09:35 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KrautFed
This is what I did, but again, I'd rather save it for emergencies... I really dont want to ride the brake or pulse the brake on long descents.

Why not? It's easier on your body, easier on your bike, faster, safer...
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Old 05-07-07, 09:37 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KrautFed
I really dont want to ride the brake or pulse the brake on long descents.
oy vey....
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Old 05-07-07, 09:45 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by dutret
Why not? It's easier on your body, easier on your bike, faster, safer...
If I wanted to use brakes and didn't want the exercise, I would ride my touring bike, or drive my car. Don't get me wrong, I do have a brake on it and will always have a brake on it (and use it), but I'm starting to think that 90% of the "it gives you efficient cadence" comes from descending and the regulating of speed.
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Old 05-07-07, 10:16 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KrautFed
If I wanted to use brakes and didn't want the exercise, I would ride my touring bike, or drive my car. Don't get me wrong, I do have a brake on it and will always have a brake on it (and use it), but I'm starting to think that 90% of the "it gives you efficient cadence" comes from descending and the regulating of speed.
Why? How does putting pressure in the reverse direction you normally improve your cadence? What made you start to think this? Simply that you can't do it now?

Getting comfortable moving your feet at crazy cadences while descending without bouncing probably does provide some improvement but you simply can't do that unless you are planning to brake. Being geared low and forced to keep up 110+ on flats probably helps too.

Beware though FGs can also lead to some very bad habits. Everyone who claims that a freewheel makes the bike feel dead has taught themselves to let the bike carry their feet through the dead spots.

If you want exercise ride harder when you are not slowing. Trying to push how hard you can stop with backpressure or skidding is just asking for injury.
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Old 05-07-07, 10:26 AM   #11
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i disagree with dutret and think using the FG as training (especially the resistance part) has made my legs a TON stronger.

part of the allure of fixed gear for me is you get a workout up AND downhill (otherwise, your right, why not just use a coastie bike).

with time your legs will get stronger and resisting will come easier. just take it easy don't overdue it at first (or you might experience the famous exploding knee thing everyone talks about). with time and practice you'll see you can resist well enough to stop yourself from almost anything. just use your legs till they are tired then switch to the brakes.

i have a big steep hill that t's directly into a stop sign on my daily commute. at first it was terrifying and i couldn't imagine hitting it without brakes. now, after riding fixed consistantly for maybe a year, i honestly can't telly you the last time i used my brake bombing it. it is really fun to try to contol the pace on the way down then come to a big skipping/skidding stop at the end so i don't get killed in traffic.

i do blow through tires at an alarming rate though...
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Old 05-07-07, 11:24 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KrautFed
This is what I did, but again, I'd rather save it for emergencies... like this weekend Little Suzie was in a little red wagon in a steep driveway and came flying down into the street while I was going about 27mph. THAT was brake time. I really dont want to ride the brake or pulse the brake on long descents.

Brakes aren't like an airbag; you can use them more than once.
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Old 05-07-07, 11:28 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KrautFed
If I wanted to use brakes and didn't want the exercise, I would ride my touring bike, or drive my car. Don't get me wrong, I do have a brake on it and will always have a brake on it (and use it), but I'm starting to think that 90% of the "it gives you efficient cadence" comes from descending and the regulating of speed.
It may give you stronger legs by some measures, but i don't think the eccentric contraction does much for forward pedaling. Efficent cadence comes mostly from spinning the bjeebers out of a low gear for hours at a time.

If i remember correctly, track sprinters specifically avoid using back pressure during training.
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Old 05-07-07, 11:47 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by max-a-mill
i disagree with dutret and think using the FG as training (especially the resistance part) has made my legs a TON stronger.

part of the allure of fixed gear for me is you get a workout up AND downhill (otherwise, your right, why not just use a coastie bike).

with time your legs will get stronger and resisting will come easier. just take it easy don't overdue it at first (or you might experience the famous exploding knee thing everyone talks about). with time and practice you'll see you can resist well enough to stop yourself from almost anything. just use your legs till they are tired then switch to the brakes.

i have a big steep hill that t's directly into a stop sign on my daily commute. at first it was terrifying and i couldn't imagine hitting it without brakes. now, after riding fixed consistantly for maybe a year, i honestly can't telly you the last time i used my brake bombing it. it is really fun to try to contol the pace on the way down then come to a big skipping/skidding stop at the end so i don't get killed in traffic.

i do blow through tires at an alarming rate though...
If you are blowing through tires you are not just resisting and presumably doing absolutely nothing for your pedal stroke like the OP was talking about. Maybe the big skid is fun for you but that says not about it's efficacy as a training tool.

Sure back pressure will make you "stronger" at slowing yourself while descending. It will not necessarily make you faster in most senses. For most people pushing harder up the hill and then taking it comparatively easy on the descent is a far superior workout.
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Old 05-07-07, 11:53 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dutret
Why not? It's easier on your body, easier on your bike, faster, safer...
agreed. it also saves your legs for the rest of your commute.
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Old 05-07-07, 12:00 PM   #16
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the blowing through tires only happens on the last 5% of the hill. the middle 50% is where the resistance comes in.

obviously i have no proof, but i wholeheartedly believe it is not only making me stronger but also faster in my real passion which is singlespeed mountainbiking.

it just seems so easy to get on a bike that coasts on the weekend after riding fixed all week. feels like a "vacation" being on my mtb after a week of commuting fixed.

could i do better by doing real training with a HRM and a training program and whatnot, sure! but if "training" just consists of riding your bike as much as possible (like it does for me) i think riding fixed whenever possible is going to make you a stronger/better rider.
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Old 05-07-07, 12:12 PM   #17
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OP: Take your bike out on wet roads, it will be much easier to get the feel of skidding/skipping. If you have a brake then don't just use it for emergencies, brakes are pretty useful.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dutret
Why not? It's easier on your body, easier on your bike, faster, safer...
It's a pretty good idea to be able to brake both wheels and not have to pulse the front brake on long descents as your only method of slowing down, surely this is why road bikes have a rear brake?
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Old 05-07-07, 12:19 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KrautFed
This is what I did, but again, I'd rather save it for emergencies... I really dont want to ride the brake or pulse the brake on long descents.

READ: I would rather destroy my knees trying to look hip and be "hardcore" than be good to my body and be safe by combining brake pulsing with resisting
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Old 05-07-07, 12:24 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by max-a-mill
could i do better by doing real training with a HRM and a training program and whatnot, sure! but if "training" just consists of riding your bike as much as possible (like it does for me) i think riding fixed whenever possible is going to make you a stronger/better rider.

There are plenty of ways to incorporate the concepts behind "real training" into regimens that involve more "just riding your bike as much as possible" and less analyzing the downloads from your powertap. Rolling hills for instance are a great way to approximate intervals in a more natural fashion. Same with red light sprints. The fact is that these types of training are far more efficient and just because you eschew the technology and dedication that makes "real training" as exact as possible does not mean you have to abandon the theory that motivated it. Riding as hard, long and as often as you can is just as waste of time if you want to become a stronger/better rider.
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Old 05-07-07, 12:28 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rattlebag
OP: Take your bike out on wet roads, it will be much easier to get the feel of skidding/skipping. If you have a brake then don't just use it for emergencies, brakes are pretty useful.


It's a pretty good idea to be able to brake both wheels and not have to pulse the front brake on long descents as your only method of slowing down, surely this is why road bikes have a rear brake?
Being able to stop both wheels is a necessity. Everyone who rides with one brake should know how to skid. Yeah if you are going down multi-mile descents then you should probably not be riding a single brake the whole way. But if the choice is between skipping and riding one brake who cares. If you are going down multi-mile descents very often you probably also should have two brakes anyway.
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Old 05-07-07, 12:38 PM   #21
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sure would like to see a diagram outlining the muscles trained in backpedaling
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Old 05-07-07, 12:57 PM   #22
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Brake pads are replaceable, and cheaper than tire, and knees.

Skidding and skipping may look cool, but it actually does not build up muscle.
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Old 05-07-07, 01:18 PM   #23
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I love my brake, but I do enjoy not using it.
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Old 05-07-07, 01:22 PM   #24
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sure would like to see a diagram outlining the muscles trained in backpedaling
then look at a diagram of the muscles used when pedaling forward
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Old 05-07-07, 01:22 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iamarapgod
Skidding and skipping may look cool, but it actually does not build up muscle.
bullsh!t... if there is no new muscle created how does one get better (able to do it easier) at it over time?

we can certainly argue if this makes you a faster cyclist but i don't think you can argue that it it WILL make you stronger to ride fixed using your legs to conrol your speed as much as possible.
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