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how straight is a straight line?

Old 05-17-15, 09:20 PM
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how straight is a straight line?

Hello all!

New to this forum, and biking in general, and I've got a question... When you're climbing a hill, and you're pretty exhausted, how straight of a line are your riding? Normally, when my heart is pumping pretty good, I can ride pretty straight. BUT today, on my longest ride so far (13ish miles), on the last of two or three pretty steep hills, with my heart pounding out of my chest, I started to wobble around a bit... So, 1. Is that a pretty normal thing? 2. Any tips to keep me on the straight and narrow?

Many thanks!
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Old 05-17-15, 09:44 PM
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Welp, I've discovered that the slower I go, the wobblier I get. So, when I'm climbing a steepish hill, spinning along in second, I'm likely to be moving about a bit because I'm not going very fast. It's just the nature of the thing - if I'm crawling along because a family of geese is in the way, I'm also not scribing a perfect line.

Similarly, if I'm going fairly fast up a hill, but I'm standing on the pedals to do it, I'm probably moving about a bit more than if I'm gliding downhill or on the flats, simply because I'm putting more effort into standing up and cranking along.

Not having seen you ride I don't know if you're wobbling around like a drunk or not, but I betcha you're not doing anything unusual. Purely the unscientific opinions of a non-expert who's had a couple of beers while watching Mad Men tonight.
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Old 05-18-15, 03:00 AM
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how straight is a straight line?

Sounds more like "weaving" than "wobbling" which is more normal than not when standing up on a steep hill.
Pro riders (Contador for example) maintain a straight line even when standing so it is a gainable skill.

However, when even those guys put out maximum power in the sprint, they weave all over the place as well.

Same thing happens mashing up hills when you're using your body weight on alternate sides at a low cadence, causing weaving. The more tired/unfocussed you are the worse it gets, ime. Don't worry about it as above...

Oh, beer can make you weave and wobble I have heard tell

edit: my (highly unscientific) definitions: weaving, you are still fully in control of the bike.... wobbling, not in control but saveable... shimmy or high speed wobble, the bike is trying to throw you off

Last edited by imi; 05-18-15 at 03:26 AM.
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Old 05-18-15, 05:37 AM
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Wobble is downhill and weaving is uphill. Depending on age and physical condition, you really don't want to prolong that maximum heart rate in that pounding feeling inside your chest.
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Old 05-18-15, 05:47 AM
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Engage your core muscles, breathe deeply and evenly, bring your mind and body back under control, and will yourself back into balance. This is a learnable skill, as said earlier.
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Old 05-18-15, 06:08 AM
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Thanks for the help, fellas! I think slowing down is probably the culprit for my weaving. I'll certainly be working on control in general as I continue to ride.

And just to make sure I understand.... I shouldn't fill my water bottles with Jameson before the ride?
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Old 05-18-15, 07:17 AM
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The straightest line up a steep hill will be ridden by a triker. Even if they stop to rest, they will just ride off straight ahead.
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Old 05-18-15, 07:26 AM
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When I see a steep hill, I gather as much speed in top gear as possible before I start climbing the grade, and I keep as much momentum as I can until I crest it. Not sure what you mean by wobbling. I might go a degree or two off the line but I'm not zig-zagging.
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Old 05-18-15, 04:09 PM
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Originally Posted by htotaza
And just to make sure I understand.... I shouldn't fill my water bottles with Jameson before the ride?
NO NO NO!!!! Of course not! You really are a newbie aren't you! One must always drink whisky BEFORE the ride, Sheesh! How many times do I have to explain this!!!
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Old 05-18-15, 04:40 PM
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Duly noted!
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Old 05-18-15, 08:08 PM
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Many decades ago, when I was a kid, I learned from another kid that to climb challenging hills, you go at an angle so your actual incline is less steep. Then you make a quick turn in the other direction - like tacking up wind during sailing. Of course this won’t work well if you’re in traffic.
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Old 05-19-15, 09:58 AM
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On a ball , the earth, a straight line (great circle) is a curved line... as laid out on a mercator projection, flat map.

Great-circle distance - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mercator projection - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Last edited by fietsbob; 05-19-15 at 10:01 AM.
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Old 05-19-15, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob
On a ball , the earth, a straight line (great circle) is a curved line... as laid out on a mercator projection, flat map.

Great-circle distance - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mercator projection - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
It is not your bike that wobbles, but the earth that wobbles beneath you. How very Matrixy of you, lol.
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Old 05-19-15, 11:55 AM
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drop a wheel alongside a trolley rail gap, which is straight, and see how long it takes you to crash..
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Old 05-19-15, 01:26 PM
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I wouldn't call it "wobbling" but I have more side-to-side movement when I'm tired. For a recumbent rider, staying steady and straight while working hard on an extremely steep climb at near-stall speeds is sort of a Zen exercise in focus.
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Old 05-19-15, 01:41 PM
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OT: This has been bothering me.

A line, by definition, is straight. ALL lines are "straight" lines.

I think the question you MEANT to ask is: "At what curvature is the curve I ride acceptable?"
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Old 05-19-15, 01:47 PM
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Weaving means that you are challenging yourself appropriately. Keep it up.
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Old 05-19-15, 02:34 PM
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If you did not fall down or run into anything, you line is straight enough for the time being.
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Old 05-19-15, 03:05 PM
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how straight is a straight line?

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Line_%28geometry%29

... and not even light travels in a straight line according to Einstein...
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Old 05-19-15, 03:11 PM
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A straight line is an arc segment with its radius at infinity.
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Old 05-19-15, 03:26 PM
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how straight is a straight line?

I think I need one of OP's straight whiskys :/
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Old 05-19-15, 05:07 PM
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Originally Posted by imi
I think I need one of OP's straight whiskys :/
Yes, that would be neat.
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Originally Posted by chandltp
There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
Originally Posted by noglider
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Old 05-19-15, 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by imi
I think I need one of OP's straight whiskys :/
But... but... You said to drink it BEFORE I went out to ride! I'll buy two bottles next time
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Old 05-19-15, 07:07 PM
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If you are going slow enough to wobble you should at least be in your easiest gear and I hope your hill isn't a 1% grade on a bridge over a river... .
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