Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like :The Dirty Kanza". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Gravel descents

Old 06-20-19, 08:09 AM
  #26  
Rides4Beer
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Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
Likely need to wipe out a few times to learn to ride close to the traction limit. I accept that I'm too old to want to learn how to ride gravel or dirt at maximum speed.

As for which bike to get the Open U.P. is very popular on gravel and hard to go wrong with one of those.
Trying to avoid that if I can, but I'm sure it will happen! lol I've gotten sideways a couple of times and been able to save it, just takes time to learn what that feels like and for the handling skills to develop. I agree that as I get older, the risk management part of my brain tends to take control more often.
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Old 06-20-19, 08:51 AM
  #27  
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I don't buy into the idea that one has to crash to learn how to ride fast.

If you ride long enough then you will crash eventually but I don't believe it is necessary to crash to learn how to ride near or at the limit.


-Tim-
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Old 06-20-19, 03:56 PM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by baconshakes View Post
It's a gross generalization that ignores the basic attack position and hinging techniques. It sure sounds like you're describing the ancient "Marin clench" technique that died decades ago...

https://www.llbmtb.com/lessons/row-a...ing-positions/

What are you defining "downhill geometry" to be?
Slack head tube angle, longer front center.

It's not about the bike.
The bike geometry does matter - come one, you must admit that.

Last edited by tyrion; 06-20-19 at 04:35 PM.
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Old 06-20-19, 04:01 PM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by tyrion View Post
More mountain-bikey geometry helps you go descend faster. If the bike allows you to get behind the wheels (shorter reach and a saddle that gets out of the way) you'll be more comfortable and go down hills faster. The geo puts you in a position of better control when the bike is pointed downward.

OTOH the downhill geometry isn't so good for going up hills and is less nimble.

Pick your poison.
This right here. After riding only my Cross Check for a few years, and on plenty of gnarly descents on singletrack, when I got my Rove that has much more of a mtb geo I could suddenly descend faster (with the same skill set.
It's also 650B vs 700c, so that may be a factor as well.
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Old 06-20-19, 04:41 PM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
I don't buy into the idea that one has to crash to learn how to ride fast.

If you ride long enough then you will crash eventually but I don't believe it is necessary to crash to learn how to ride near or at the limit.


-Tim-
Ever see a fast skier who hasn't crashed?
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Old 06-20-19, 04:49 PM
  #31  
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Tubeless, wider, lower pressures. That is really all I can offer.
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Old 06-20-19, 05:00 PM
  #32  
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Large saddle cutout for the massive sack it takes to nail loose gravel turns at high speed.
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Old 06-20-19, 05:41 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by baconshakes View Post
In your mind, when does a head tube angle become so slack that it is "downhill geometry" that causes problems going up hill?
I'm not an expert on this and I'm sorry if I came across as one, but I think it's pretty clear that some kinds of bike geometry are better for going down the hill and some are better for going up the hill. I'm just putting out the basics: being able to put your weight aftward relative to the axles gives you more control going downhill. Is that really in contention?

A skilled rider can make almost any bike work on a gravel descent. Claiming that the "basic physics is undeniable" ignores this fact.
No it doesn't. No one is denying that "A skilled rider can make almost any bike work on a gravel descent". If I implied that, I didn't mean to.
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Old 06-20-19, 06:37 PM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by baconshakes View Post
Ummmmm...both of those bikes have geometry that is firmly at the XC end of the MTB spectrum. The Rove is 1/2° slacker at 71.5° with a higher BB and slightly longer chainstays so my bet would be that the difference you feel is more likely to be 650b vs. geo differences.
Perhaps! I'm a noob about geometry so maybe it's psychological - that horizontal top tube and short head tube on the Cross Check makes the Rove ST simply look way different. But yeah, I'm sold on 650B for this kind of riding.
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Old 06-20-19, 07:41 PM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
Ever see a fast skier who hasn't crashed?
I didn't say it won't happen. I said it isn't necessary.

Crashing doesn't teach you how to ride (or ski or drive or fly) fast.


-Tim-
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Old 06-20-19, 08:30 PM
  #36  
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Flying onto the ignore list....
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Old 06-21-19, 03:09 AM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by baconshakes View Post
...Yes, that's incredibly simplistic and harkens back to the early days of mountain biking when...
We're being too combative. I'm just trying to make the point that geometry does matter, and that there's spectrum a between geometries good for downhill geometries and not-good-for-downhill and it's fairly well understood.

Maybe it's simplistic but it's true.
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Old 06-21-19, 03:50 AM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
I didn't say it won't happen. I said it isn't necessary.

Crashing doesn't teach you how to ride (or ski or drive or fly) fast.


-Tim-
Obviously the crashing doesn’t teach you anything but it is a natural consequence of riding/driving/skiing on, or close to, the ‘edge’. I take it you don’t ski?
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Old 06-21-19, 03:54 AM
  #39  
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Apparently BACONSHAKES has never ridden an Enduro or Downhill specific MTB, as compared to a XC or standard trailbike.
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Old 06-21-19, 07:32 AM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by baconshakes View Post
You don't know those grip limits until you reach them.
You do if you are paying attention.

Motor vehicle tires let you know audibly. They squeal. Turn the radio off.

A tire begins to slide prior to completely breaking traction. The slide can be felt.

Good racers are able to push a vehicle slightly past the limits of adhesion so that the vehicle (car, bicycle, motorcycle) drifts slightly. I've done it with sports cars and have felt a road bicycle begin to drift when cornered hard. MTB and cross riders know how to ride past the tire's limit of adhesion and they do so on purpose. Then there is the whole "Drift" racing thing, which I don't really get, but their entire reason for existence is to drive past the limits of adhesion at all times without crashing.

Lots of examples of people who know the limits of adhesion without crashing.



-Tim-
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Old 06-21-19, 08:16 AM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
You do if you are paying attention.

Motor vehicle tires let you know audibly. They squeal. Turn the radio off.

A tire begins to slide prior to completely breaking traction. The slide can be felt.

Good racers are able to push a vehicle slightly past the limits of adhesion so that the vehicle (car, bicycle, motorcycle) drifts slightly. I've done it with sports cars and have felt a road bicycle begin to drift when cornered hard. MTB and cross riders know how to ride past the tire's limit of adhesion and they do so on purpose. Then there is the whole "Drift" racing thing, which I don't really get, but their entire reason for existence is to drive past the limits of adhesion at all times without crashing.

Lots of examples of people who know the limits of adhesion without crashing.



-Tim-
I know a lot of mtbers since they generally switch to cx in the fall and the saying goes "it's not if you crash, its when". Crashing is not the purpose but the result of riding past those limits regularly. Theres a reason why they generally wear more protection than road and gravel cyclists, its an inevitability.
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Old 06-21-19, 08:58 AM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
You do if you are paying attention.

Motor vehicle tires let you know audibly. They squeal. Turn the radio off.

A tire begins to slide prior to completely breaking traction. The slide can be felt.

Good racers are able to push a vehicle slightly past the limits of adhesion so that the vehicle (car, bicycle, motorcycle) drifts slightly. I've done it with sports cars and have felt a road bicycle begin to drift when cornered hard. MTB and cross riders know how to ride past the tire's limit of adhesion and they do so on purpose. Then there is the whole "Drift" racing thing, which I don't really get, but their entire reason for existence is to drive past the limits of adhesion at all times without crashing.

Lots of examples of people who know the limits of adhesion without crashing.

-Tim-
You're watching guys who've already mastered their craft. That doesn't mean they didn't wipeout more than a few times while learning. No question you can improve and become a decent rider without pushing the limits, my approach by the way, but if you want to be competitive on technical courses spills are going to happen.

Driving a car and getting it to slide or drift a little on a corner is not the same as trying to improve lap times on a course filled with a variety of corners where you have to pick the right time to go from full throttle to 100% braking and pick the perfect line while keeping the car balanced. Get anything wrong and it's not hard to slip off the track.
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Old 06-21-19, 09:03 AM
  #43  
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I know my last crash DH finally taught me to lower the seat enough

Recently I've been doing the same route with three bikes, A hardtail with and without suspension fork, a FS downhill bike and a fat bike.

Skill is, of course, the biggest factor but after that...

Wider tires on loose gravel help a lot to prevent sloughing.
Front suspension really takes out the jarring and the need to be worried (as much) about picking lines. It also helps to recover when you get it wrong.
A geometry that lowers the butt helps, whether that's a dropper post, doing it old school or bike design. With bike design you pay one way or the other (uphill or down).
You can go to wide on tires. Fat bike is fun but slower.
Full squish is weird in the way it rolls over everything but I'm still getting used to the slinky effect.

When riding a 26" vs a 700c the 700 beats me on the flats etc... but I win going down sketchy gravel. I'm pretty sure its because I have more confidence with the mtb geometry rather than the other eprson being in a road stance over the bars and because the wider tires track better.
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Old 06-21-19, 09:36 AM
  #44  
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Chip-On-Shoulder syndrome
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Old 06-21-19, 09:56 AM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by baconshakes View Post
Gee, in all of the miles that I've logged on the track, I never had my radio on...great advice!

It's not about paying attention. If you are driving at 10/10ths, riding at 10/10ths, skiing at 10/10ths, the margin of error is such that the most minor miscalculation, the most minor input mistake, or the most minor change in surface characteristics puts you over the limits of grip. Sometimes you can recover, sometimes you don't. It's by having those experiences over the grip limits that you improve as a driver, rider, or skier and learn where those limits are.

While you apparently have very little, if any, experience on a MTB, of course experienced riders can ride past the tire's limit of adhesion. They don't get to that level of experience without going past it so that they understand where that line is. Sometimes we crash, sometimes it's just a blown corner, and eventually,as you gain experience, you ride it out or purposely drift - but you'll never know where the limit is until you go past it.

Which is part of getting faster.
I agree with all of this.

yes, sometimes we crash. But it isn't necessary to learn to ride fast. Crashing isn't a requirement.


-Tim-
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Old 06-21-19, 11:29 AM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
I agree with all of this.

yes, sometimes we crash. But it isn't necessary to learn to ride fast. Crashing isn't a requirement.


-Tim-
So you're arguing semantics that requirement =/= inevitability. Can you name someone who is a good descender that has never crashed?
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Old 06-21-19, 12:41 PM
  #47  
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Most "gravel bikes" seem to have the longer wheelbases and slack head angles that are supposedly designed to give confidence while descending. Just keep in mind that they are better for straight route descending, and not hairpin curves.

In a curvy downhill section, I actually prefer my road race bike (on the road) with a short wheelbase and a 73 degree head angle for snappy handling. There's nothing like leaning in to a curve on a "stable-geometry" bike and realizing the handling you need isn't baked in to the bike.

It's hard to tell from your photo what the radius is like on those curves, but if they are really gradual, you will probably be fine on a "typical" slack geometry gravel bike. But if not, there are gravel bikes like the Open U.P. that have snappier turning capability.
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Old 06-21-19, 01:23 PM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by baconshakes View Post
Having grown up in Palatine, I'm wondering where these hairpin turns and curvy downhill sections are in the Western Chicago suburbs. I'm not remembering any.
Hah, definitely not around here!

A friend recently asked me to do the “Horribly Hilly Hundreds” in the driftless area of Wisconsin, and I couldn’t even think of any place to train for it.
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Old 06-21-19, 01:51 PM
  #49  
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I noticed this video on gravelcyclist.com.

Dave Zabriskie illustrates why smoking too many blunts is bad.

Jom's crash really wasn't necessary.



-Tim-

Last edited by TimothyH; 06-21-19 at 02:25 PM.
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Old 06-24-19, 11:50 AM
  #50  
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Originally Posted by RShantz View Post
This is such a typical comment on this forum. I said above that I know skill is the most important factor. However, it's not an either/or scenario when talking about skill and equipment. Wouldn't it be good to have both?

I just asked the question to try to make the best possible equipment when I make my purchase. Why wouldn't I want the best possible tool for the job?
You are correct but skill and the bike are connected. The best possible tool for the job will depend on your skill today and also on what you are trying to achieve. I recognize you want to shave time off descending but is this a race scenario or are you looking to feel more confident? I would rip the descents on my endruro MTB but the time gain would far less than what I lose ascending I was racing. Wider tires with lower pressure, flared bars, slacker geometry & hydro brakes will all likely make you faster down but you may give up some uphill speed. Its a trade-off. That said if your skill level descending improves substantially, you may be able to go with a bike that slants more towards a road geometry and descend just as fast. Finding the happy medium is the key. Demo. some bikes if you can to see.
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