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Pedal while descending, or just hunker down aero?

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Pedal while descending, or just hunker down aero?

Old 10-26-20, 02:03 PM
  #26  
Iride01
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Originally Posted by Random11 View Post
I probably shouldn't admit it to this group, but on my longest descent on my regular ride I quit pedaling and move up to the hoods to a more erect position to let the wind resistance slow me down.
No, you probably shouldn't admit this! Just say you enjoy your rides and leave it at that. <grin>

I on the other hand consider that a waste of a good hill. If something want's to offer free energy, then take advantage of it and get the full benefits.

But your benefits might not be my benefits so I guess it's all good.
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Old 10-26-20, 02:10 PM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by colnago62 View Post
I am not that old, but I do understand. In my 20’s I could turn a 90 inch gear at 100rpm without effort. Now, at 58, that same gear, I can just get over 90 plus rpm.
Your mention of a 90 Inch gear reminded me that everyone here refers to inches traveled per stroke while I'm still doing old school calculations and am looking at a 4.00 ratio. With my 27" tires I'm actually at @86 inch travel. With that said, I am working on improving (increasing) my cadence. 90 plus coming down my 7% grade-does that count? LOL
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Old 10-26-20, 02:13 PM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
No, you probably shouldn't admit this! ...I on the other hand consider that a waste of a good hill...
I'm inclined to agree (on both counts). I actually don't get all the way down the hill before I make a hard 90 degree right turn, and I'm always a bit scared that I might go down if I take too much speed into the turn. So far that hasn't happened, but what if there is debris on the road? What if there's a pedestrian I don't see until it's too late, or a car that shows up unexpectedly? Of course, I try to be on the lookout, but that slight tinge of fear as I'm coming down the hill (which I ride almost every day) makes me cautious enough that I'm probably taking that turn slower than you would.
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Old 10-26-20, 02:56 PM
  #29  
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I'll add yet another "it depends". If I'm out for a short 15-20 miles ride I never stop pedaling. If I'm on a 30+ mile ride pacing becomes more important and I will probably save the energy by not spinning down a hill....that's unless I get passed and then it's on.
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Old 10-26-20, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Random11 View Post
I'm inclined to agree (on both counts). I actually don't get all the way down the hill before I make a hard 90 degree right turn, and I'm always a bit scared that I might go down if I take too much speed into the turn. So far that hasn't happened, but what if there is debris on the road? What if there's a pedestrian I don't see until it's too late, or a car that shows up unexpectedly? Of course, I try to be on the lookout, but that slight tinge of fear as I'm coming down the hill (which I ride almost every day) makes me cautious enough that I'm probably taking that turn slower than you would.
Nothing wrong with being safe. it allows you to ride another day.
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Old 10-26-20, 07:14 PM
  #31  
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"spin to recover"... the motion helps clear the legs. spin, shake them out, get the lactate cleared.

If you are chasing someone, and you have to pedal downhill, you will be surprised at the watts it takes to make even a nominal difference.
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Old 10-26-20, 08:36 PM
  #32  
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I'm running 46/30 cranks and spin out at 32ish MPH so I tuck. I've hit 50mph in the past but I don't like the idea of sliding my flesh on pavement while basically naked so much over 35mph is getting stupid anyway.
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Old 10-27-20, 09:32 AM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by spelger View Post
Recently a post about one's fastest speed came up. it had me wondering about descents. Do you peddle down descents? how else to get those kinds of speeds?

i do peddle down, even in the turns. i don't think i am going so fast that i need to lean too far that my peddle will hit the road. a few times i have just gotten down low with no peddling but have felt some wobble due to wind. i find that if i peddle even lightly i feel more stable.
Depends on the moment. I tend to pedal as much as I can on my lowest gear until my cadence tops out and then I go full-aero-beast mode. If I'm too tired (for instance, just finished climbing a hill at full pace, then immediately start going downhill), I will sometimes go full-aero-beast mode immediately. Active recovery is important - even if you're only pushing 80-100watts, it helps.

Last edited by eduskator; 10-27-20 at 11:23 AM.
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Old 10-27-20, 11:10 AM
  #34  
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Pedal just to get up to speed - just go all out until I spin out on 50-11 (after all, going to recover downhill) - and then get in aero tuck when I spin out or go out of gas.
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Old 10-27-20, 05:04 PM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by Branko D View Post
Pedal just to get up to speed - just go all out until I spin out on 50-11 (after all, going to recover downhill) - and then get in aero tuck when I spin out or go out of gas.
50-11 gearing....Now I'm just fricking envious!
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Old 10-27-20, 05:26 PM
  #36  
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I pedal on all the hills around here. No such thing as a long descent.
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Old 10-27-20, 08:49 PM
  #37  
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It's fairly flat on most of my rides in Augusta, GA and I tend not the pedal on the short descents as it gives me a chance to recover for a few seconds and lift my butt out of the saddle.

About the only time I'll continuously pedal is if I'm working hard on a 10 mile stretch that has no stop signs or lights.
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Old 11-01-20, 05:00 PM
  #38  
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If the gradient is steep enough get in an aero tuck. Pedaling is not aero. At very high speed there is enough to do without the bother of pedaling. And the OP mentions wobble, which does not sound good at all. Most stable position is a simple tuck with butt behind the saddle. If wobble persists it might be better to brake.

The fastest I ever did pedaling that I can remember for sure was on a 1% downgrade in a big pack. I saw 75kph on the clock, which is about 46-47mph. At that speed was not watching the clock constantly. Was riding in 53x14, because the higher pedal speed gives more control. Most of the other guys were in the 13, for the same reason. Had anyone been in the 12 I would have gone straight off the back to get away from the squirrelly riders with no pedal speed.
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Old 11-01-20, 05:21 PM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by 63rickert View Post
The fastest I ever did pedaling that I can remember for sure was on a 1% downgrade in a big pack. I saw 75kph on the clock, which is about 46-47mph. At that speed was not watching the clock constantly. Was riding in 53x14, because the higher pedal speed gives more control. Most of the other guys were in the 13, for the same reason. Had anyone been in the 12 I would have gone straight off the back to get away from the squirrelly riders with no pedal speed.
So pedaling 53x14@156 rpm gives control, but 135 rpm in a 53x12 is squirrelly. Hmm. O.K. (and 135 rpm has no pedal speed?)
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Old 11-01-20, 05:35 PM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by 63rickert View Post
At that speed was not watching the clock constantly. Was riding in 53x14, because the higher pedal speed gives more control. Most of the other guys were in the 13, for the same reason. Had anyone been in the 12 I would have gone straight off the back to get away from the squirrelly riders with no pedal speed.

Wut?
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Old 11-02-20, 07:49 PM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by 63rickert View Post
The fastest I ever did pedaling that I can remember for sure was on a 1% downgrade in a big pack. I saw 75kph on the clock, which is about 46-47mph. At that speed was not watching the clock constantly. Was riding in 53x14, because the higher pedal speed gives more control. Most of the other guys were in the 13, for the same reason. Had anyone been in the 12 I would have gone straight off the back to get away from the squirrelly riders with no pedal speed.
hmm...what does this say about my descent today? 53x12 and only ~100 RPM...i never felt like i was out of control.
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Old 11-03-20, 09:39 AM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
Wut?
seriously wut.

In the paceline / when drafting at a steady speed, I tend to drop a cog or two as LOWER pedal speed is more stable and easier to moderate.

Just like dont drive at steady speed in a low gear in my car either, as it SURGES when applying power with higher leverage (lower gear) and accelerates SMOOTHLY when applying power with lower leverage (higher gear).
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Old 11-03-20, 11:39 AM
  #43  
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Pedal till the cadence is just too fast to stay stable. Ill hit the mid to high 50's on a regular basis.
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Old 11-03-20, 12:09 PM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by guachi View Post
It's fairly flat on most of my rides in Augusta, GA and I tend not the pedal on the short descents as it gives me a chance to recover for a few seconds ....
Same here. It's really flat here and there aren't a lot of opportunities to coast.
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Old 11-03-20, 12:13 PM
  #45  
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If you don't look like this you're doing it wrong.
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Old 11-03-20, 02:09 PM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by stevel610 View Post
If you don't look like this you're doing it wrong.
If you're not in a race or going for a segment and you're doing that, you look like a tool...
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Old 11-03-20, 03:26 PM
  #47  
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But how do you know if I am going for a segment or not?
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Old 11-03-20, 04:51 PM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by spelger View Post
hmm...what does this say about my descent today? 53x12 and only ~100 RPM...i never felt like i was out of control.
It doesn’t say much at all. No reason you would be out of control. My fast speed while pedaling and applying power (as opposed to coasting) was done in a big group. No way could that speed have been reached solo on a 1% downgrade. Dynamics of a group are very different. When taking giant steps in a big gear, when wearing seven league boots, a lot of fine control is lost. My big group did spread out a lot because of the speed. In bigger gears we would have been spread out so far the aero effect would be sporadic.

Today I descended a small hill at just about same speed as yours but was in a fixed gear of 48x19.

Many things are possible on bikes. Having pedal speed in your quiver increases the possibilities.
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Old 11-03-20, 05:23 PM
  #49  
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If you are taking giant steps in a group then I am yelling at you.

"pump pump coast" is how wheels get crossed and you take down the guy behind you. Even though it looks to you like it's his fault, you absolutely caused it by being erratic.

In a group, you are responsible for providing a smooth predictable wheel for the guys behind you.

Last edited by nycphotography; 11-04-20 at 07:42 AM.
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Old 11-03-20, 05:36 PM
  #50  
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Originally Posted by nycphotography View Post
In a group, you are responsible for providing a smooth predictable wheel for the guys behind you.
The only guys behind me are eating my dust.

All snarkiness aside...I ride alone.
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