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downhill windy road help

Old 07-23-20, 07:12 PM
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Symox
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downhill windy road help

I have a 2007 Specialized Roubaix Comp triple. Great bike. However, I have never felt confident going downhill on windy roads that weren't completely smooth. I always feel like if there is some bumpiness (gravel or those "wake up you are about to go into the opposite lane divots") and I am riding the brakes that I'm on the verge of losing control. I get the sense that the brakes are about to chatter locking up after losing contact with the road momentarily. I have felt this with other bikes so I think it is my technique more than anything.

Doesn't seem to matter if I'm using the drops or top of the bars, as soon as I use the brakes with road chatter I feel like "this might be the ride". Probably doesn't matter that I'm on a straight or windy road, I guess I just ride windy hills more often. Any suggestions? I'm not going super fast, maybe 30mph max.

Anybody else have this experience?
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Old 07-23-20, 07:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Symox View Post
I have a 2007 Specialized Roubaix Comp triple. Great bike. However, I have never felt confident going downhill on windy roads that weren't completely smooth. I always feel like if there is some bumpiness (gravel or those "wake up you are about to go into the opposite lane divots") and I am riding the brakes that I'm on the verge of losing control. I get the sense that the brakes are about to chatter locking up after losing contact with the road momentarily. I have felt this with other bikes so I think it is my technique more than anything.

Doesn't seem to matter if I'm using the drops or top of the bars, as soon as I use the brakes with road chatter I feel like "this might be the ride". Probably doesn't matter that I'm on a straight or windy road, I guess I just ride windy hills more often. Any suggestions? I'm not going super fast, maybe 30mph max.

Anybody else have this experience?
It's not your technique; it's normal. When you hit bumps, your bike (front tire, rear tire, both perhaps) bounces slightly off the pavement. If you are applying your brakes at that moment, then sure, one (or both) wheels can lock up. That's possible because, when the wheel loses contact with pavement, it will take very little braking power for it to lock up.

The solutions are to (1) use your brakes lightly and judiciously, (2) shift your weight back and get low on the bike (to aid with stability), and (3) avoid the bumps by looking ahead at the smooth portions of the pavement. (We tend to steer in the direction we are looking.)

I'm sure others will chime in with more advice, but that's mine.
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Old 07-23-20, 10:09 PM
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The above advice but also get your weight off the seat (if you are coasting).

With your weight off the seat, your legs will be able to quickly act as shock absorbers.

You'll be able to stop/slow-down better if you can move your butt behind your seat. Practice (get used to) doing this on a normal (flat ride).

Also, try to take the lane rather than riding close to the right side of the lane. You'll have more space to maneuver and more options to avoid rough spots. Doing that entails checking traffic before the decent and takes some practice and experience.

Last edited by njkayaker; 07-23-20 at 10:22 PM.
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Old 07-24-20, 04:41 AM
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I let off the brakes in bumpy sections, and resume braking over smooth sections. You may need to have fast reflexes to do this because some roads have extremely short intervals of bumpy vs smooth and at high speed, you'd be like a castanet dancer clickity click clicking the brakes.

You still need to be quite progressive on your brake application even if you're using them very intermittently.

Scan the road medium-near for road surface quality, and scan far for traffic / pedestrians / animals.
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Old 07-24-20, 04:45 AM
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Ditto on what @njkayaker said, get some weight off your seat. I don't stand up but I some pressure on the pedals with my knees. Other than that feather your brakes on the descent.

Kret.
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Old 07-24-20, 05:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Symox View Post
I have a 2007 Specialized Roubaix Comp triple. Great bike. However, I have never felt confident going downhill on windy roads that weren't completely smooth. I always feel like if there is some bumpiness (gravel or those "wake up you are about to go into the opposite lane divots") and I am riding the brakes that I'm on the verge of losing control. I get the sense that the brakes are about to chatter locking up after losing contact with the road momentarily. I have felt this with other bikes so I think it is my technique more than anything.

Doesn't seem to matter if I'm using the drops or top of the bars, as soon as I use the brakes with road chatter I feel like "this might be the ride". Probably doesn't matter that I'm on a straight or windy road, I guess I just ride windy hills more often. Any suggestions? I'm not going super fast, maybe 30mph max.

Anybody else have this experience?
If you are riding down steep hills on rural roads for the first time you need to use extra care. On occasion these roads offer not only potholes but craters. I don't ride in groups much anymore but if you do let the cowboys go. Do not get on wheels to draft on on downhills. In 2008 a young man who rode with us forgot to tighten his front wheel quick release and the wheel separated after a bump. He took six riders down at 40+mph. It took 30 minutes for an ambulance to arrive. I barely missed a bike frame.

I almost never use my brakes, especially the rear one. I am always looking ahead to anticipate hazards. Stay off the drops unless you are clear of dangers which can hit with no warning. I almost hit a chicken once in farm country. Anyone can go fast on downhills; it is the climbs that separate the men from the boys. this does not mean that brakes are not important. Keep them well maintained but use them sparingly. Happy cycling.
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Old 07-24-20, 06:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Symox View Post
I have a 2007 Specialized Roubaix Comp triple. Great bike. However, I have never felt confident going downhill on windy roads that weren't completely smooth. I always feel like if there is some bumpiness (gravel or those "wake up you are about to go into the opposite lane divots") and I am riding the brakes that I'm on the verge of losing control. I get the sense that the brakes are about to chatter locking up after losing contact with the road momentarily. I have felt this with other bikes so I think it is my technique more than anything.

Doesn't seem to matter if I'm using the drops or top of the bars, as soon as I use the brakes with road chatter I feel like "this might be the ride". Probably doesn't matter that I'm on a straight or windy road, I guess I just ride windy hills more often. Any suggestions? I'm not going super fast, maybe 30mph max.

Anybody else have this experience?
Riding on those lane divider bumps is a bad idea, and a terrible place to be braking.

You sould almost never be “riding the brakes”. Brake harder when conditions are good (going straight, smooth pavement) and then let off them when thing are bad (cornering, bad road conditions).

Sometimes you just have to make the best of less-than-stellar options, like if the whole road is bumpy and gravelly. In that case, brake as much as you can on the straight sections.

Also, try larger tires at lower pressure.
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Old 07-24-20, 06:24 AM
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As others have pointed out, you should be in the drops and weight well back for safety. Personally, I can't just let-r-rip even on familiar descents. I've seen too many deer, dogs, cats, turkeys, chickens and squirrels turn suicidal to trust that one won't pop out of the roadside. I actually know folks who have been wrecked by all of above with the exception of turkeys. In truth, I'm probably no more likely to be able to avoid such at 35mph than I am at 50mph. I guess it's a mental failing but I can't see trying to overcome it at this point.
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Old 07-24-20, 06:43 AM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
As others have pointed out, you should be in the drops and weight well back for safety. Personally, I can't just let-r-rip even on familiar descents. I've seen too many deer, dogs, cats, turkeys, chickens and squirrels turn suicidal to trust that one won't pop out of the roadside. I actually know folks who have been wrecked by all of above with the exception of turkeys. In truth, I'm probably no more likely to be able to avoid such at 35mph than I am at 50mph. I guess it's a mental failing but I can't see trying to overcome it at this point.
That is not mental failing, that is simply good risk/benefit analysis. Crashing at 50 mph may well have life-changing consequences so the benefits better be good, such as REALLY enjoying it (which I gather you do not), or there being a prize at the end of the ride for the fastest person
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Old 07-24-20, 06:49 AM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
As others have pointed out, you should be in the drops and weight well back for safety. Personally, I can't just let-r-rip even on familiar descents. I've seen too many deer, dogs, cats, turkeys, chickens and squirrels turn suicidal to trust that one won't pop out of the roadside. I actually know folks who have been wrecked by all of above with the exception of turkeys. In truth, I'm probably no more likely to be able to avoid such at 35mph than I am at 50mph. I guess it's a mental failing but I can't see trying to overcome it at this point.
Well, in the event that you go flying over your bars, I'd say it's better to be flying at 35 than 50.
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Old 07-24-20, 08:26 AM
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+1 on wider tires. Just going to 28 mm from 25 mm made a significant difference with road vibration and cornering. My 29er with 2.2 treads is a blast on roady downhills.
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Old 07-24-20, 09:57 AM
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Los of excellent advice. The only thing I would add is, if you're uncomfortable at 30mph, brake earlier and don't let your speed get that high to begin with.
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Old 07-24-20, 09:16 PM
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Thanks everyone. Anyone know if a Specialized Roubaix can accept 28s? It definitely can do 25s.

Why do wider tires help?
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Old 07-24-20, 09:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Symox View Post

Why do wider tires help?
Mostly because you can run your pressure lower.
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Old 07-24-20, 10:38 PM
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Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
The above advice but also get your weight off the seat (if you are coasting).

With your weight off the seat, your legs will be able to quickly act as shock absorbers.

You'll be able to stop/slow-down better if you can move your butt behind your seat. Practice (get used to) doing this on a normal (flat ride).
Lifting my butt off the seat felt much more unstable to me. I felt like my shoes were "floating" on the clipless pedals and I felt like I had less control. I must be doing something wrong.
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Old 07-24-20, 11:35 PM
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Just checked and I am using 700x23 Michelin Lithion 2 tires. I'm gonna try the 28s. Any recommendations? Gatorskins?
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Old 07-24-20, 11:37 PM
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I think a lot has to do with familiarity with the descent. I am very familiar with the ones here, every nook and cranny and scrape from plows. Not so much when I first rode but more so as I rode more. Now I barely break and pedal all the way down. You will get there.
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Old 07-25-20, 02:40 AM
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If you're uncomfortable, you are going too fast. Don't let your speed build up to the point of discomfort.
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Old 07-25-20, 04:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Symox View Post
Lifting my butt off the seat felt much more unstable to me. I felt like my shoes were "floating" on the clipless pedals and I felt like I had less control. I must be doing something wrong.
It's the same weight pressing the tires to the road. So, it shouldn't be actually less stable.

For road bikes, most of the shock absorption is in your legs (some is in the tires). With your weight off the seat, your legs are active and can deal with bumps much more quickly.

You really don't want to hit a bump at speed with all your weight on the seat.

I have the habit of lifting my weight whenever I'm coasting. That way, if I hit a bump I missed seeing, I'm already dealing with it.

Last edited by njkayaker; 07-25-20 at 04:14 AM.
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Old 07-25-20, 06:48 AM
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A little googling says that you shout early able to put 28mm tires on a 2007 Roubaix. I have put 32mm on my 2017.
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Old 07-25-20, 07:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Symox View Post
Lifting my butt off the seat felt much more unstable to me. I felt like my shoes were "floating" on the clipless pedals and I felt like I had less control. I must be doing something wrong.
Yes, at high speeds if you eliminate all contact with the saddle it can feel a bit less stable. When I lift my weight off the saddle in this situation, the saddle is still braced against one or both of my thighs.
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Old 07-25-20, 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post
Mostly because you can run your pressure lower.
That’s only part of the story...and not the most important part. Wider tires have a large contact patch which means stability. Wider tires float over road irregularities while narrow tires either bounce off them (rocks) or knife into them (sand and soft spots).

Originally Posted by Symox View Post
Lifting my butt off the seat felt much more unstable to me. I felt like my shoes were "floating" on the clipless pedals and I felt like I had less control. I must be doing something wrong.
The “lift” shouldn’t be very much. You don’t need to stand over the bike but only need to unload the saddle. One thing I haven’t seen mentioned is that your feet should be parallel to the ground you are riding over. If the road is flat and straight, the pedals should be even and horizontal. If the road is going down adjust so that your feet follow the terrain as you coast. Your knees should be flexed and taking the impact rather then the bike. Think of your legs as your shock absorbers. Your arms should be relaxed too. They are secondary shock absorbers.

When you get to a corner, put the inside pedal up and push hard on the outside pedal. This loads the tires on the outside edge and pulls you around the corner. Use brakes sparingly in corners but don’t avoid using them if you must. Part of the reason people tell you not to brake in corners is because the tire’s footprint is smaller and thus the friction is less. The bike will slide out to the side more quickly and is harder to recover from.

Body lean on corners is something else you need to think about. Bicycles have a high center of gravity. It’s located in your hips or a bit higher. You can’t lean into a corner like you would on a motorcycle because the wheels would slip out from under you. You want to lean over but you won’t be able to lean like a motorcycle racer. You have to lean the bike but lean “you” less.

The way to think of it is that your bike isn’t the heaviest part of the system. You don’t really have to manage it’s momentum. You are the heaviest part of the bike and you have to manage your body’s momentum. If let your bike bounce around under you, your body will just keep going in the same direction it was going before...Newton’s Laws of Motion and all that.

Originally Posted by Symox View Post
Just checked and I am using 700x23 Michelin Lithion 2 tires. I'm gonna try the 28s. Any recommendations? Gatorskins?
I really doubt that you’ll be able to use 28mm tires on that bike. The tire probably won’t clear the fork. I hate to say this but you have the wrong tool for the job. There is no way that you can make this bike into a “gravel” bike. You can ride it on gravel but, as you are finding, it’s a struggle.
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Old 07-25-20, 02:38 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
That’s only part of the story...and not the most important part. Wider tires have a large contact patch which means stability. Wider tires float over road irregularities while narrow tires either bounce off them (rocks) or knife into them (sand and soft spots).
.
Well you’re certainly entitled to your opinion as much as anybody else, but I disagree.

In my experience, going bigger without lowering the pressure on the road provides marginal benefit.

The size of the contact patch has mostly to do with the pressure, not the size of the tire. The benefits you are describing for a larger tire will not be realized unless you lower the pressure.
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Old 07-25-20, 03:01 PM
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I ordered some 700x28 gatorskins. I'll keep you posted - thanks everyone!!!
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Old 07-25-20, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post
Well you’re certainly entitled to your opinion as much as anybody else, but I disagree.

In my experience, going bigger without lowering the pressure on the road provides marginal benefit.

The size of the contact patch has mostly to do with the pressure, not the size of the tire. The benefits you are describing for a larger tire will not be realized unless you lower the pressure.
Lowering the pressure increases the rolling resistance. Using a wider tire reduces rolling resistance over a narrow tire but not if you lower pressure at the same time.

There is also a practical limit to lowering the pressure and, in my opinion, most people are below that limit. A tubed tire will pinch flat if the tire pressure is too low. What many people don’t understand is that pinch flat is telling you something. The tube is pinched when the tire is trapping the tube between the tire and the rim. You are risking impacting the rim on the ground and the result could be a damage rim. Damaged tubes are fairly cheap to fix. Damaged rims are far more involved and far more expensive.

However, in Symox’s case, going from a 23mm tire to even a 28 isn’t going to result in much protection nor in a significant decrease in rolling resistance. A 28mm tire is still a very narrow tire.
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