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Descending, turns, and pedaling

Old 10-06-21, 07:42 AM
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spelger
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Descending, turns, and pedaling

i've been thinking about peddling during descents for a while now and a recent post by cubewheels now makes me ask this question to the forum...do you peddle hard while descending? even into turns? i do but never really thought about hitting the peddle on the ground during turns. speeds reach 40+ so there can be a fair amount of lean. back home after a ride i've leaned the bike toward the ground with the peddle down and i would really need to be leaning for a peddle to clip the ground.

i used to just coast down becasue i was damn tired after the ascent but as i got better i had more energy for the descent, i started doing this because of the side winds i frequently encounter while descending, peddling seems to give me more stability, maybe that is just in my head though.
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Old 10-06-21, 07:53 AM
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I'll usually pedal up to about 15-20 and then coast, unless it's a really gradual grade and I need to keep up with a group. I can't really put any power into the pedals above 25-30 mph.

I'll do some desultory spinning if it's a long descent; maybe turn the pedals over for a 5-count, coast for a 10-count, repeat until I hit the bottom of the hill. It helps keep my leg muscles from freezing up, which helps keep my locked-up muscles from contributing from a shimmy. But there's certainly no force in it.
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Old 10-06-21, 07:59 AM
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Descending, especially around turns i find it much more important to consider balance + your line into the corner. Its not like car racing where you can use the throttle for control.
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Old 10-06-21, 08:12 AM
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Are you racing? Then learn to do what the professionals do.

Are you riding for fitness? Then apply your work where and when it counts for you. Power applied in climbs will have more benefit than during descents.

Are riding for utility - to get from point A to point B within an amount of time? Then learn to do what is energy efficient and safe.

As to your pedal strike question, it's usually best not to pedal during a tight turn. Outside foot down, weight low, centered between axles (depending on incline (like horseback riding), and on outside foot. Eyes and head toward the line of turn, allow shoulders to follow. At least, that's how I was taught...
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Old 10-06-21, 08:48 AM
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Well, lately Iím riding SS, so I pretty much have to coast, but even with gearing itís usually a low value proposition to pedal down steep hills.

You can spend a lot of energy and not go much faster than terminal velocity. Speaking of which, a really good tuck will increase that, assuming you want to go that fast.

For my non-racing purposes, itís best to really push the climb and recover on the downhill.

Otto
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Old 10-06-21, 09:11 AM
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If it's what some of us call a "pedaling descent" (one that you could coast down but will make much better time if you pedal), then yes, I pedal, but generally not in turns. Pedaling gentle descents is particularly helpful when riding loaded. It's a good way to cover ground after spending a lot of time climbing a pass. Bu if the descent is steep enough that pedaling won't add that much more speed I will simply coast, especially when loaded. Road surface conditions also factor into my decisions.
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Old 10-06-21, 09:32 AM
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If you're going 40mph through a turn and there's even a remote chance that you might clip the pedals... don't pedal. No amount of power you could (safely) put down through that turn for 1 second is worth the life-altering damage crashing at that speed could do. Especially since clipping pedals causes highsides, where the mechanisms of injury are at least an order of magnitude worse than lowsiding.

At 40mph, you hit an aero brick wall anyway.

That being said, you should be VERY familiar with what your lean limit while pedaling is. I would practice in a parking lot. Wear thick jeans and a hoodie. Or actual pads if you have those. I have a somewhat pedal-y descent where I hit 45+ mph and I'll hold a solid 300+ watts through that turn because it's fairly long and easy, and the road flattens out afterwards, so maintaining momentum is key.

Last edited by smashndash; 10-06-21 at 09:35 AM.
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Old 10-06-21, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
Eyes and head toward the line of turn
I think more specifically, eyes towards the apex as you're coming up to the turn, then as you approach the apex, eyes towards the exit? This allows you to look ahead and be better prepared to handle anything unexpected that comes up.
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Old 10-06-21, 07:31 PM
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Depends on the situation. On my regular almost-daily ride, there's one hill that has a shallow turn at the bottom, and I pedal pretty hard all the way through the turn and get as much speed as I can. It's fun to go fast. On another hill on the same ride, I take a sharp right turn before I get to the bottom of the hill. Slightly scary. Not only do I not pedal, I sit straight up on the descent to create air resistance to slow my speed. Same ride, different hills. If it seems safe, I'll pedal, but it doesn't always seem safe.
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Old 10-06-21, 07:44 PM
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As a public service.
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Old 10-06-21, 08:05 PM
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Originally Posted by smashndash View Post
If you're going 40mph through a turn and there's even a remote chance that you might clip the pedals... don't pedal. No amount of power you could (safely) put down through that turn for 1 second is worth the life-altering damage crashing at that speed could do. Especially since clipping pedals causes highsides, where the mechanisms of injury are at least an order of magnitude worse than lowsiding.

At 40mph, you hit an aero brick wall anyway.

That being said, you should be VERY familiar with what your lean limit while pedaling is. I would practice in a parking lot. Wear thick jeans and a hoodie. Or actual pads if you have those. I have a somewhat pedal-y descent where I hit 45+ mph and I'll hold a solid 300+ watts through that turn because it's fairly long and easy, and the road flattens out afterwards, so maintaining momentum is key.
Dang, what gears are you running that allow you to pedal at 45+ mph? With a 53/11 combo that's like a cadence of 120. You must be super smooth at high cadence...
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Old 10-06-21, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by jamesdak View Post
Dang, what gears are you running that allow you to pedal at 45+ mph? With a 53/11 combo that's like a cadence of 120. You must be super smooth at high cadence...
I might be a bit of a freak. I can hit 200rpm seated. Put down useful power at 150 or so. Out of the saddle my peak power is at 130rpm (see username)

Needless to say, I don't need anything bigger than a 50:11 LOL




but yeah. My pedal stroke is flawless. It's less mopar and more ferrari. I know I can get upto 50mph in my 50:11 with no problems. Beyond that it doesn't make sense a) because it's difficult to put down power at 140+ rpm and b) it's usually far more efficient to supertuck, which I do often. In fact I usually supertuck above 35 mph on descents unless I really want to set a time.

Last edited by smashndash; 10-06-21 at 08:31 PM.
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Old 10-06-21, 08:25 PM
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Originally Posted by atwl77 View Post
I think more specifically, eyes towards the apex as you're coming up to the turn, then as you approach the apex, eyes towards the exit? This allows you to look ahead and be better prepared to handle anything unexpected that comes up.
You need to be somewhat careful with this technique. It lets you go way faster, way more confidently. But if your vision isn't great, you might miss debris/sand in the road while looking too far ahead. You also might ignore your limits (mechanical or skill) and end up writing a check you can't cash. I'd say practice this technique while going slow and gradually ramp up the pace.
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Old 10-06-21, 08:29 PM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
As a public service.
no worries. we all have something to be anal about.
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Old 10-07-21, 06:19 AM
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Pedal during descents - often, I like to go fast, I'm nearly always the passer rather than the passee on a descent (on the flats and uphill it's a VERY different story...). As others have said above, though, once I get much above 40 mph I'm spun out. Also on a long descent, pedaling helps to keep my muscles from tightening up.
Pedaling through corners - most times, yes, when I'm not going too fast, and when there's no fresh-ish chip 'n seal (yes, it's that time of year again around here). I'm not sure of the speed at my limit, I'm looking at where I'm going rather than my cycle computer when cornering. I've only had one significant pedal strike, it was a big jolt, but I kept it upright. It actually didn't throw me off my line that much, and fortunately didn't break any equipment, though my pedal has a big scar, glad it's aluminum and not carbon or composite. It wasn't at anything like 40 mph, it was probably sub-20 mph (90į corner at a light, less room than normal passing a car waiting to turn left).
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Old 10-07-21, 06:53 AM
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Originally Posted by smashndash View Post
I might be a bit of a freak. I can hit 200rpm seated. Put down useful power at 150 or so. Out of the saddle my peak power is at 130rpm (see username)
Not freakish at all. Back when I was racing most of us could do 200rpm. Track racing was done mostly on 46x14 and it was not possible to race if 150 effective rpm were not on hand. So yes, most can do that rpm if the incentive structure is there.

Doing these things routinely and habitually when no one else rides that way any longer is extremely unusual. And commendable. Thank you for posting.
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Old 10-07-21, 07:03 AM
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Originally Posted by spelger View Post
i've been thinking about peddling during descents for a while now and a recent post by cubewheels now makes me ask this question to the forum...do you peddle hard while descending? even into turns?
I think where you went wrong is you read on of those threads and thought about something. They are not meant to induce thought.
To answer you though- I pedal depending on how hard the curve is, how fast I am going, and how steep the hill is. If its a really steep sharp turn, not only am I not pedaling, but I may actively brake. If its a gentle 2% grade and the turn is mild, sure I will pedal.
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Old 10-07-21, 07:07 AM
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Originally Posted by smashndash View Post
I might be a bit of a freak. I can hit 200rpm seated. Put down useful power at 150 or so. Out of the saddle my peak power is at 130rpm (see username)
Between 200rpm seated and 130rpm standing, I bet you are in the top .1% of cyclists. And even among cyclists that are enthusiasts or higher, you are probably in the top .5%.
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Old 10-07-21, 07:11 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Between 200rpm seated and 130rpm standing, I bet you are in the top .1% of cyclists. And even among cyclists that are enthusiasts or higher, you are probably in the top .5%.
I don't know about this. As 63rickert said, it's pretty common for trackies. Maybe I just hung around some hitters but I know at least one other guy who could easily match my rpms. But he also went on to win collegiate track nationals.

I think I'm a bit of a freak mainly because I don't specifically train for it nor do I particularly mind it. Like 120-130rpm is not exactly an event for me. I wish my PM's cadence sensor a) went up to 200 rpm and b) recorded 3 second max rather than instantaneous max. Pretty much every single ride, my "max rpm" is 169rpm - the max my PM will record.
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Old 10-07-21, 07:11 AM
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I mean, how much risk are you comfortable with? If you pedal strike at those speeds, you will alter your riding after that
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Old 10-07-21, 07:21 AM
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Originally Posted by smashndash View Post
You need to be somewhat careful with this technique. It lets you go way faster, way more confidently. But if your vision isn't great, you might miss debris/sand in the road while looking too far ahead. You also might ignore your limits (mechanical or skill) and end up writing a check you can't cash. I'd say practice this technique while going slow and gradually ramp up the pace.

In my case, I don't even think about it because I likely won't see the sand/debris until it's too late due to color-blindness. I know I harp on this a lot, but about 8% of men are colorblind to one extent or another (mine is mild, and I didn't realize I had it until my 20s, I'm still surprised from time to time by finding out I'm missing certain cues). It's very easy to self-test for color blindness online, if you're going to try something like this, you might want to test this first before attempting this stuff at speed. An amazing number of people don't know they're not seeing what they're not seeing.
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Old 10-07-21, 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by smashndash View Post
I don't know about this. As 63rickert said, it's pretty common for trackies. Maybe I just hung around some hitters but I know at least one other guy who could easily match my rpms. But he also went on to win collegiate track nationals.

I think I'm a bit of a freak mainly because I don't specifically train for it nor do I particularly mind it. Like 120-130rpm is not exactly an event for me. I wish my PM's cadence sensor a) went up to 200 rpm and b) recorded 3 second max rather than instantaneous max. Pretty much every single ride, my "max rpm" is 169rpm - the max my PM will record.
You just cited someone who won collegiate track nationals as an example that your RPM isnt elite.
For every one of those guys, I could point to 500 cyclists that can barely hit 110rpm.

It was a compliment- its cool that you can spin that fast.
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Old 10-07-21, 08:59 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Between 200rpm seated and 130rpm standing, I bet you are in the top .1% of cyclists. And even among cyclists that are enthusiasts or higher, you are probably in the top .5%.
Yeah, 130 rpm is about my (seated) max, maybe I could hit 90 rpm standing, never tried to max out standing cadence. I've been cycling many years, but have never competed. I don't have a lot of fast-twitch muscle, and now I'm on the far side of 55, so...
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Old 10-07-21, 09:05 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
You just cited someone who won collegiate track nationals as an example that your RPM isnt elite.
For every one of those guys, I could point to 500 cyclists that can barely hit 110rpm.

It was a compliment- its cool that you can spin that fast.
Fair enough. I'm very hesitant to accept compliments because I'm not actually very fast or successful in racing. The idea of being in the top 1% of anything is a little weird. But I guess I'll wear this badge
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Old 10-07-21, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by spelger View Post
i've been thinking about peddling during descents for a while now and a recent post by cubewheels now makes me ask this question to the forum...do you peddle hard while descending? even into turns?
I pause pedaling into turns and I'm definitely avoiding "hard" efforts on descents to avoid getting too fast.

The goal is NOT to descend faster but according to many posters in that thread is to promote better recovery of the muscles between efforts. Downhills can be dangerous, even outright deadly, especially the ones that get you above 30 mph.

Last edited by cubewheels; 10-07-21 at 09:58 AM.
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