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  1. #1
    A Mountaineering thing Hillbasher's Avatar
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    Not a "How fast have you gone" question.

    I was reading the 2/3/11 edition of RBR newsletter, and came across an article dealing with "fear of descending". A few months back I was up GMR with Mr Beanz and a few friends of his, and on the descent, one of them had a hard time coming back down. The unusual part was, they were the fastest one up to the shack on the uphill part of the ride that day. But the downhill just put the fear of falling into them. So my question is, at what speed, do you start to exercise caution on your descents? I know there are always conditions to consider, familiarity of the road, conditions of the pavement, weather and traffic, but how about just a general speed?
    For myself, I know GMR fairly well and ride it a lot solo midweek. That always makes me a little slower, knowing if anything were to happen it might be awhile before seeing anyone,but when I was up there a lot with Beanz, if I could stay up with him on the descent, which wasn't often, I had my eyes open wider than usual. I will have to check my Garmin stats to see just how fast up there I was, but how about you people? This is aimed mostly at the non-racers out there.

  2. #2
    Unobtanium-Based Lifeform calamarichris's Avatar
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    I've only gotten scared once, when coming down Baldy Road back in the late 80's. I'd never felt speed wobbles before that, nor since. Respecting your subject's request, I won't report what my (admittedly questionable) Schwinn Paramount computer reported as the max, but no one has ever believed me, even though my coach checked my speed against his, and his truck's; and it was good up to 25mph.
    I've tried to crack 60 since the beginning of last year, but no dice so far.

    As long as you remain relaxed & loose and trust in your wheels, brakes and good vision & common sense, there's no need to slow down. Clenching up is deadly (and so is looking at your speedo instead of the road, so check your max speed later), so don't do it and just let your wheels roll free.

  3. #3
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    I have a friend I ride with and he refuses to descend faster than 20mph. He told me he's been riding a long time and there's no reward in descending faster than that for him. He loves climbing because he gets a ton of exercise but he says when descending it's all coasting - minimal calorie-burning. He's not at all interested in thrill-seeking or adrenaline rushes so he just coasts down at 20mph. I noticed this when descending Newport Coast with him for the first time. I hit my usual 42-45mph and he was nowhere to be seen. He coasted up to PCH less than a minute later than me. So I saved a minute but had I crashed I'd be in the hospital and had he crashed in a similar manner he might be able to ride home.

    I think about his advice all the time. I'm still a thrill-seeker and will admit that I've never been scared while descending. I will also admit that I've never even hit 50mph yet.

  4. #4
    Senior Member zitter's Avatar
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    Depends on the road. If it's a winding mountain road, I'll go 30 or under for parts I can clearly see and judge that it's safe. If it's a straight wide road, I'll tuck in as much as possible and hit over 50. I'll even pedal to go faster. I love the speed in descending, it makes all the climbing worth it.
    Last edited by zitter; 02-13-11 at 03:02 PM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member socalrider's Avatar
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    I've done over 60 during a race, but now if I get over 35+ you need to be hyper aware of everything around you to keep and stay safe..

  6. #6
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    I start getting scared at around 35-40. I do not really have any good wheels so I do not really trust them a lot. The fastest I have gone is 52mph. NEVER going to go that fast again.
    Cannondale CAAD9
    Quote Originally Posted by Beaker View Post
    I know but this is BF.

  7. #7
    jmX
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    Senior Member jmX's Avatar
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    If I could only go up, I think I would. On GMR i think I maybe touched 30mph a couple times coming down the mountain. The brakes got a bit of a workout before each turn. Anything above that speed felt unsafe, especially with the amount of debris that randomly appears along that road. I probably averaged 27mph.

    Coming down Imperial in Orange, a 12% grade road as straight as an arrow, 40mph feels like my max. When I creep up over that I get really nervous.

  8. #8
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    At 46 mph, I start to think aobut what might happen so I might feather the brakes. Descending GMR with one hand while recording video, I start to get nervous when I touch 30.

  9. #9
    Senior Member GP's Avatar
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    A couple years ago I riding with Chucklehead, descending the eastern side of San Elijo in San Marcos. I was doing about 50, looked left and there was CH, drafting a bus and passing me.

    My bikes are pretty stable at speed. They'll drift a little in a crosswind but not bad.

  10. #10
    Half Fast mwandaw's Avatar
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    A long time ago, when the pros were still debating whether they should be required to wear helmets, I hit 48 on Santiago Canyon. I was pretty proud of myself, but then more sinister thoughts about road rash and broken bones came into my head. When my head cleared I heard a voice saying, "a helmet would be nice". I've been good about wearing one ever since.

    I used to test ride motorcycles, so I've gone pretty fast on two wheels, and I wouldn't mind going fast on a bicycle. Despite daredevil reputations, the test riders I have known were (relatively) cautious when riding. (When not riding, it was a different story!) Push a little here, push a little there, gain confidence in your ride, and then you can go faster.

    On our tandem my wife and have agreed to a 35mph speed limit. Tandeming is a two-gether thing, and that's the top speed that we (together) are comfortable riding.
    Last edited by mwandaw; 02-13-11 at 08:28 PM.

  11. #11
    Senior Member JTGraphics's Avatar
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    First a smart rider will know their limits and not exceed it that's were they crash and get injured.
    Trying to keep up with someone faster and not comfortable with it that's a crash waiting to happen.
    As far as going fast know the road first before you bomb down it this means every turn, this means you need to ride it several times first.
    All roads have spots were water run off is more likely know them! watch for rock on the way up and keep those eyes on the next corner and the road well in front of you and not on your front tire or the rear wheel in front of you! look ahead well ahead.
    So I applaud a rider that plays it safe and doesn't try keeping up with others if they are not up to it!.
    I don't want to be picking someone up off the pavement, I've had to do that a few time on motorcycles and bikes.
    It may not be fancy but it gets me were I need to go.
    http://www.jtgraphics.net/cyclist_bicycles.htm

  12. #12
    Half Fast mwandaw's Avatar
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    Adding to what JTGrahics said, the old saying is "if you think you might be going too fast, YOU ARE!"

  13. #13
    Senior Member Shimagnolo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz View Post
    At 46 mph, I start to think aobut what might happen so I might feather the brakes. Descending GMR with one hand while recording video, I start to get nervous when I touch 30.
    OK, now *that* is crazy!
    (And this is coming from someone who has done a lot of crazy things.)

  14. #14
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    I have no top speed limit. I race automobiles as a hobby also. For each descent you need to be aware of the unique situation.

    I have noticed that most cyclists are poor descenders (not looking far enough ahead, failing to look where they wish to go not where the bike is pointing, selecting poor lines, ...) and should keep their speed down.

    Later
    HB

  15. #15
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    Over 40 mph I'm paying extra attention. There are some local roads where I can hit 50, but I don't fear them because they're familiar.

  16. #16
    Senior Member kevrider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heckboy View Post
    II have noticed that most cyclists are poor descenders (not looking far enough ahead, failing to look where they wish to go not where the bike is pointing, selecting poor lines, ...) and should keep their speed down.
    ain't that the truth! i have seen some scary guys descending in the hills and i like to put them behind be as soon as i can safely get around them. please have your crash behind me.

    i'm a well-trained and experienced motorcyclist and descending on the bike is exactly like riding the moto. so i have no speed limits, i go as fast as i can for conditions and traffic. the guy who says there's no workout on a descent is wrong -- there's no workout for him. if the road is clear, my legs burn, i am wide open. i like climbing and i'm pretty good at it, but to me, the whole point of the climb is to rail that descent. the fastest i've have gone is 50.0, i was holding back because the road was wet -- Hogpen Gap if anyone knows north GA. miss those gaps.
    In a world full of people, only some want to ride. Isn't that crazy?
    Seal/CRAZY/misquoted

  17. #17
    got the climbing bug jsigone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GP View Post
    A couple years ago I riding with Chucklehead, descending the eastern side of San Elijo in San Marcos. I was doing about 50, looked left and there was CH, drafting a bus and passing me.

    My bikes are pretty stable at speed. They'll drift a little in a crosswind but not bad.

    I caught some tail wind one time on that hill and got to 63mph solo..... then hit the 1st red light, never again will I allow myself to go that fast.

  18. #18
    ...happy bike owner... antimike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz View Post
    At 46 mph, I start to think aobut what might happen so I might feather the brakes. Descending GMR with one hand while recording video, I start to get nervous when I touch 30.
    Have you ever thought about getting a handlebar mount or something Mr. Beanz? I think it'd add some safety into your life with all of the videos that you do. Something that can be taken out easily ala cyclocomputer type style. Just a thought!

    I have only been up to 28.5 but I just started riding.

    That doesn't freak me out, but the chip-seal pavement and all of the hazards of the road make me a little uneasy. I don't fully trust my wheelset either. I'm hopefully getting a new wheelset soon that'll be more fitting to my current clyde status.

  19. #19
    Senior Member kevrider's Avatar
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    thinking about this thread and reminiscing as i brushed my teeth... i remembered that the first time i rode in the mountains, on that first descent, there was some trepidation. i could read the roads, read the urves, execute the corners, but i couldn't trust those 23mm tires. it took a while to gain confidence that they were up to the task. then i had to deal with the fact that i was doing moto corner speed without moto body armor. crazy. but after one taste i was good to go. maybe i'm a junkie, but i doubt it.

    Quote Originally Posted by jsigone View Post
    I caught some tail wind one time on that hill and got to 63mph solo..... then hit the 1st red light, never again will I allow myself to go that fast.
    wow, a red light on a descent like that is cruel. and unusual.
    In a world full of people, only some want to ride. Isn't that crazy?
    Seal/CRAZY/misquoted

  20. #20
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by antimike View Post
    Have you ever thought about getting a handlebar mount or something Mr. Beanz? I think it'd add some safety into your life with all of the videos that you do. Something that can be taken out easily ala cyclocomputer type style. Just a thought!

    Mama din't raise no fool! I use a HB mount on the fast descents of any length. I only do freehand while riding with others and need to pan. If so, on the fast sections, I don't dare go one handed. If the wind isn't just right, I won't do it either. The wind has lots to do with control on the descents as we all know.




    Quote Originally Posted by JTGraphics View Post
    First a smart rider will know their limits and not exceed it that's were they crash and get injured.
    Trying to keep up with someone faster and not comfortable with it that's a crash waiting to happen.
    As far as going fast know the road first before you bomb down it this means every turn, this means you need to ride it several times first.
    All roads have spots were water run off is more likely know them! watch for rock on the way up and keep those eyes on the next corner and the road well in front of you and not on your front tire or the rear wheel in front of you! look ahead well ahead.
    So I applaud a rider that plays it safe and doesn't try keeping up with others if they are not up to it!.
    I don't want to be picking someone up off the pavement, I've had to do that a few time on motorcycles and bikes.
    Also true for everyone's protection! I've been recording rides where a rider is pushing the limits trying to keep up on the descents. If I see this, I put the cam away and say "show's over" then we cruise down before someone gets hurt.:

    FTR, I rarely "bomb" down the descents. If I had it my way, I'd skip the DH but I do have to get home.

  21. #21
    Riding twobadfish's Avatar
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    My max speed so far is 46mph and I didn't feel worried or scared at all...

  22. #22
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by twobadfish View Post
    My max speed so far is 46mph and I didn't feel worried or scared at all...
    A bit different but we hit 56 on our tandem (not pedaling and not trying to go for speed). Bike is rock steady, not scared but the thought running through my head was "Holy $#!&&^$%^#%#&**#*&$%^$%" that was fast!"

    I don't care to do it again for the simple fact that Gina was on the back of the bike.

  23. #23
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    I think people who have trouble with the decent have trouble picking out the proper line, trouble with how to make the arc bigger, moving the apex beyond what might appear to be correct line but will throw you into a wall or over the edge. I learned to look far ahead, brake in a straight line, turn my head to where i want to go and trust my tires. Helps also that i have a very stiff Trek 1400 Aluminum frame. However, some of those hard crosswinds up on GMR was quiet the surprise. Some of those gusts were very hard. I try to go as fast as i can all the time.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Curbendo's Avatar
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    I used to be completely fearless, but about seven years ago, I wiped out descending Mt. Wilson and it took months to completely get my confidence back. But now, the memory sort of self-regulates my speed. When I realized I wasn't going to make that turn, I had a split second to decide - Do I play the odds, try to brake to a stop, but risk going over the edge? Or do I lay the bike down, commit to the road rash, but guarantee not going over the edge? (I chose door number two). These days, I'm generally cool going as high as 50, but there are occasionally moments approaching certain bends at various speeds where my subconscious flicks back to having to make that decision. That's when I slow down.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Shimagnolo's Avatar
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    The worst scare I ever had on a mtn descent was coming over the lip of an abrupt 12% portion at 45mph, on rain-slick pavement, to find two elk standing in my lane.

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