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Old 05-11-09, 02:49 PM   #1
zoltani
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Fully loaded 18% grade downhill thrill!

I think I now understand why it might be an advantage to have disc brakes on a fully loaded bike.

Near Salt Point there is a dirt road called Kruse Ranch Rd, which turns into paved Seaview Rd, which turns into Meyer's Grade. Halfway down the 2 mile downhill from hell I had to stop and cool my rims, but it was very difficult to stop. At the same time if I let go of my brakes I would start accelerating at an amazing rate, and I was sure I would lay it down on the tight curves. It sure was a thrill, but I don't think I'd like to do it again. Unless it was an unloaded bike, of course.







The spot where I let my brakes cool.



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Old 05-11-09, 02:57 PM   #2
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I've been considering what to upgrade next on my touring bike, and I'm starting to be convinced that disc brakes would be a good idea. That ride looks like a blast though.

Over here in Oregon I've scared myself a couple times going over the Mt. Hood pass. Got too caught up in the scenery...
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Old 05-11-09, 02:59 PM   #3
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I have descended a few 18% slopes in Charlevoix, Quebec, and they are definitely hard on the hands!

Ascending these monster hills is no picnic, either...
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Old 05-11-09, 03:07 PM   #4
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I have descended a few 18% slopes in Charlevoix, Quebec, and they are definitely hard on the hands!




There's a 2km 20% going to île-aux-Coudres but it's a small road and I missed it.

In Saguenay, this road leads to Cap Jaseux campground (highly recommended). The good thing is there's no RV.

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Old 05-11-09, 03:24 PM   #5
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Several years ago the Meyers Grade Road was the detour going North due to Hwy 1 rehab work.
I am glad that I did not know how steep it was going uphill.
Beautiful country around Fort Ross.
Thanks for the photos.
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Old 05-11-09, 05:13 PM   #6
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Wow, looks like a beautiful road.

To acantor and Erick-- I visited that area of Quebec last summer and even driving on the hills that steep was intense! How does anyone get around in the winter?? I tip my hat to y'all for having the guts to ride bikes in that area.
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Old 05-11-09, 05:17 PM   #7
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awesome pictures. thanks for that.
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Old 05-11-09, 05:29 PM   #8
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Great pictures. I'm going to have to try that road. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 05-11-09, 06:57 PM   #9
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I am a guitarist and I recently built a disc equipped touring bike for just that reason, descents were killing my hands. I just finished a tour of Yunnan Province China, every day had at least one monster climb and descent. the discs helped (avid bb7 road disc brakes) but I am even thinking about chaning the setup to a juice disc. Some of the descents were HUGE, and I plan to tour here in china again.

I dont care about the added complexity and/or reliability. MY hands are important to me, as is eating. At the end of some days, I could barely manage the chopsticks, my hand was so sore. even with mechanical discs.

On the other hand, descending at 50+ km/hour was a gas.
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Old 05-11-09, 07:13 PM   #10
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I'm curious... do people here who have tried both feel that disc brakes are that much better on this type of big downhill (i.e. the type where frequent braking is required to stop building up too much speed, the type where you have to stop and let rims cool down)?

I ask because I've read anecdotal comments here and there that discs heat up too, and since they don't have as much metal as the rims on your wheels (being much smaller and all) they heat up MUCH faster. I've also heard that the rotors can warp if heated too much; and that the pads can fade if they get too hot; and that an overheated disc rotor risks heating up the hub (bad for the bearings grease)... also, disc brakes have their own general issues (requiring more wheel dishing, being a bit more relatively complex than simple cantis, putting more stress on the spokes while braking, hiding warped wheels (rim brakes let you know about that), requiring more beefy forks to stand up to the added tortion, complicating rack mounting...)

I'm kind of on the fence about disc brakes. I think they look really cool, but are they really better than properly set up rim brakes?

Neil
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Old 05-11-09, 07:24 PM   #11
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I have also been on the fence about discs.
At one point I was gung-ho to get them on my next build, but after reading about various issues, I played it safe and went with cantis.

Something that has occurred to me:
Under hard braking, a vehicles weight shifts onto the front wheel(s).
This is why high-performance motorcycles have dual discs in front.
It seems to me this would be a good idea for bicycles with heavy riders and/or cargo.
As well as the additional stopping power, it would also distribute the heat across *two* rotors instead of just one.
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Old 05-11-09, 08:02 PM   #12
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I don`t think I`ve ever seen a paved road at 18% (Jeep trails are another story), and if I doubt I`ve ever seen a 12% that continued for 2 miles. How in the heck did you get up there? From the other side or do you have Superman legs? BTW, I don`t recognise the road names you mentioned. Where are you?
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Old 05-12-09, 10:27 AM   #13
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V-Brakes also work on 30% descends...but never, never touch the rim after ;-)
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Old 05-12-09, 10:39 AM   #14
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On steep, double digit hills, I've found that alternating the brakes front to back, one at a time does very well. Saves your hands and keeps the rim heat down. I use long-reach calipers and they've done just fine. I don't get the disc brake thing for bicycles—seems like over-kill. Probably just me. As usual.
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Old 05-12-09, 10:47 AM   #15
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I don`t think I`ve ever seen a paved road at 18% (Jeep trails are another story), and if I doubt I`ve ever seen a 12% that continued for 2 miles.
Upper section of Flagstaff Mt on the West side of Boulder;
When I rode it with a Garmin 305, I briefly saw 19% displayed.
More recently, with my 705, I saw 17%.
Now on the way up, I don't spend a lot of time watching the display, because I am usually pretty busy gasping for air.
And on the way down, there are too many curves, so I don't look at the display at all.
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Old 05-12-09, 01:17 PM   #16
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This road is off of HWY 1, on the pacific coast route. Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve is at the northern end of Salt Point State Park. I took the dirt road that runs through the Rhododendron reserve, and continued along until I reached HWY 1 again. It seemed like a nice alternative on the map, and it was, but that downhill was killer.

I won't be switching to disc brakes. However, all my pads will be replaced with Kool-stop salmon pads. I've had good luck with them on my other bike. Before this downhill I was riding in the rain for 4 days straight, so the pads had worn and weren't quite performing as they should have on Meyer's Grade Road. I usually practice the alternating method described by foamy above, but my rear brake was really fading, so it didn't work that well.

My guess would be that over 2 miles distance the average grade is 18%, but I'm not exactly sure how they measure it for the signs.
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Old 05-12-09, 01:40 PM   #17
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The 3rd picture is absolutely stunning. Great shot!
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Old 05-12-09, 03:31 PM   #18
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The pictures are even more interesting than the subject of brakes!
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Old 05-12-09, 09:20 PM   #19
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The pictures are even more interesting than the subject of brakes!
Absolutely- I got so caught up in pondering such nasty grades that I forgot to give congrats for the beautiful pictures. Good job, Z.

Erick L, I like your grade sign collection too. It`ll probably give me nightmares.
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Old 05-13-09, 05:59 AM   #20
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Wow, looks like a beautiful road.

To acantor and Erick-- I visited that area of Quebec last summer and even driving on the hills that steep was intense! How does anyone get around in the winter?? I tip my hat to y'all for having the guts to ride bikes in that area.
That kind of thing is no big deal to drive in a car. It's easier in a stick shift, but it's not *impossible* in an automatic. You just have to know how to manage your acceleration, and in an automatic, how to force gear shifts. On a back road of that kind of grade, the speed limit tends to be 35 or 45mph, and a lot of times there will be safety curves to enforce it. (if you have to cross the yellow line to get up *or* down, IMO you should have your license taken away... what if I'm in the other lane on my bike?!) SUVs, light trucks, and minivans can have power to weight ratio issues. CDL required vehicles often do.

If you live on top of this kinda hill, in winter you do not go down unless you've got a plan for how to get back up. Non-clumping kitty litter is your friend. Same with good winter driving skills. And you desperately want to know the *other* back road, where the grades stay below 10% the whole way up even tho it's an extra 4 miles of driving. Also, it takes a *lot* of snow to make things unwalkable...

On a bike it's... more demanding. I usually can't ride up grades like that. I walk. Doesn't matter how good my gearing is, my cardio conditioning just isn't good enough. Go up it til just before you would go splat, then walk. Lather, rinse, repeat, and eventually you get the conditioning to ride up.
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Old 05-13-09, 06:31 AM   #21
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There's a 2km 20% going to île-aux-Coudres but it's a small road and I missed it.
That's the old road descending to the île-aux-Coudres ferry. Here's the new road. There's a sharp turn where the 18% becomes 10%. I walked part of it... descending. It looks like a wall of pavement from the ferry. A bus tour fell off the cliff a few years ago, killing everyone (but one?). Île-aux-Coudres is a little cycling heaven but most people get there in a motor vehicule.



Further on the same road, a third of the way down a 3km at 11%. Then it goes up a narrow and twisty 18% through a village. I was grinding slowly in the rain and a little kid asked if I was training for something. I was breating too hard to talk so his mom answered I was just on vacation. What a vacation...



Looking back from the other side, after the 18% through the village:

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Old 05-13-09, 10:22 AM   #22
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Erick,

Which is the old (20%) road, and which is the new (18%) road? Côte-à-Godin, or Route de Port?

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&sour...,0.077248&z=14

I cycled up this 18% road in 2002, and only managed by (1) weaving; (2) stopping for a break every minute or so; and (3) pushing my bike a lot! I am not sure I would be able to make it now that I am a little older, a little heavier, and a little more cautious!
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Old 05-13-09, 11:45 AM   #23
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Wait until you do a descent like this on snow and ice! I coulda used disc brakes in High Point, NJ this winter.
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Old 05-13-09, 11:51 AM   #24
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Which is the old (20%) road, and which is the new (18%) road? Côte-à-Godin, or Route de Port?

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&sour...,0.077248&z=14
Côte-à-Godin is the 20%. There's a stop at the bottom.
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Old 05-13-09, 03:58 PM   #25
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My guess would be that over 2 miles distance the average grade is 18%, but I'm not exactly sure how they measure it for the signs.
The highest point in that area is less than 1000', so it's impossible for it to be 18% average over two miles. That is probably the maximum grade.

Sounds like a fun ride nonetheless.
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