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Pedal while descending, or just hunker down aero?

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Pedal while descending, or just hunker down aero?

Old 10-23-20, 01:17 PM
  #1  
spelger
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Pedal while descending, or just hunker down aero?

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.
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Old 10-23-20, 01:40 PM
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If a descent allows me to see far far ahead, and I know the terrain has no blind side roads with cars pulling out, I'll pedal hard until my cadence tops out, and then I go full aero (but no super-tuck). 52 mph is my fastest top speed ever, but nowadays I start feathering the brakes at 40. Now I save the speed for the uphills.
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Old 10-23-20, 01:46 PM
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I try to go as fast as I can to get away from the peddlers, so yes, I do pedal the bike.
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Old 10-23-20, 01:49 PM
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What are you sellin'?
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Old 10-23-20, 02:05 PM
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Pedal in training, tuck when racing or when speed is of the most concern.
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Old 10-23-20, 04:07 PM
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heck no, enjoy the ride! Besides I usually need a breather for the hill I just struggled up in the first place.
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Old 10-23-20, 04:58 PM
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If you're going really fast down a hill there's no way pedaling will get you more unless you can spin 150+ rpm. Normal gearing won't get it.
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Old 10-23-20, 05:05 PM
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I'll pedal more often than not. Unless I'm trying to get all tucked in and aero just to see what I can get out of a hill without extra effort.

I've heard or read that it does help get the lactic acid out of your muscles if you just move your legs whether they are actually adding power and speed to your descent or not. Seems to be something to that, but I've never really put much into finding out except just noting how my legs feel when they are called to put power into the equation at the bottom.

Like you, I pedal in turns too. One of the reasons I like short cranks.
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Old 10-23-20, 07:56 PM
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My limited understanding is that since lactate gets recycled that by pedaling you use the excess lactate but your power output is low enough not to create more excess lactate.
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Old 10-23-20, 08:15 PM
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I haven't noticed any consistent difference in speed pedaling vs coasting. But I usually at least move my legs to keep them loosened up for the next climb. Doesn't take long for my legs to feel stiff and dead if I'm not pedaling, even without much resistance.

With my old school steel road bike set up for easier rides the 50/38 chainring and 13-28 freewheel means pedaling doesn't do much -- I'm just flailing around at 130 rpm. So I set my feet at 3 and 9 and coast. My other bike has 53/39 and 11-28 cassette so pedaling still *can* generate some power. But I haven't seen any difference in average or peak speed on the usual modest 2%-5% downhills we have here. Coasting is probably more efficient as long as I can maintain a tuck.

I think some methodical tests have been done that show an advantage to an aero tuck and coasting on serious downhills, but I can't hold that kind of tuck for long due to old neck and shoulder injuries. And I ain't sitting on the top tube. There's nothing to be won but a trip to the ER doing that. I've watched other MAMILs trying the supertuck in group rides and they're a damned menace.
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Old 10-23-20, 08:21 PM
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Depends. Usually, if it's a straight-ish descent that isn't all turns, I'll pedal up to about 25-30, then tuck to see how much faster I can go. But the other day, I spun up to about 40 mph (120 rpms), just to see if I could.
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Old 10-23-20, 10:34 PM
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It depends. Doesnít everything? If itís a super long descent I may just tuck it from the top. If my legs have plenty of Ďgoí I may hammer it until I run out of gears and am spinning with zero resistance and then tuck it. One 8% mile long hill I go down gains speed so fast I donít bother to peddle because when the corner comes, itís always scary.
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Old 10-24-20, 12:38 AM
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I pedal out of the corners until either a) Iím going fast enough to tuck or b) I have to start braking for the next corner.
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Old 10-24-20, 02:43 AM
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Depends, if it's a straight descent after a long climb then I'll try and turn my legs a bit so they don't seize up.
But if you want to go fast, then the more aero you can get the faster you can go. On a descent smaller bikes and wheels actually enable you to go faster, if you can make a smaller frontal area.
The world record for rolling downhill is 141mph. He was aero and didn't pedal.

Last edited by Trevtassie; 10-24-20 at 02:52 AM.
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Old 10-24-20, 07:03 AM
  #15  
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I usually go full aero on the decent itself and spin like mad at the bottom to keep the speed up for a bit.
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Old 10-24-20, 07:25 AM
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It depends entirely on the slope and the tightness of the corners. On a steep short descent where I'm likely to hit 50+, I spin it up to 42, then tuck and coast. If there are tight corners close enough on a steep descent, it makes little sense to pedal hard between the corners and then slam on the brakes. I have one 22 mile descent with only a 2.5% average slope and wide sweeping bends that requires pedaling nearly all the way, particularly if there's a head wind.
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Old 10-24-20, 08:38 AM
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If youíre leading a paceline, pedal til you are spinning out. If you tuck too soon, the guys behind you will be braking the whole way to avoid crashing into you.
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Old 10-24-20, 08:49 AM
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If there is a headwind or crosswind I like to pedal, it feels more stable to me to have some power going to the rear wheel. At >35mph I sit up a little as my well honed self-preservation instinct kicks in.
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Old 10-24-20, 11:51 AM
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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.
I'm working on reducing unconscious coasting, so I generally keep the pedals turning even if I'm not giving them any real force - I did the work getting up the hill, time to let gravity return the favor. Depending on how fast I ultimately want to go, I'll tuck or sit up to allow grag to modulate my speed
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Old 10-24-20, 12:06 PM
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On road I usually stop pedaling at 35-40mph.

On dirt/mountain biking, I’m coasting on DH sections at much slower speeds(depending on trail conditions).
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Old 10-24-20, 08:36 PM
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If you have to go very long downhills very often, note that the chain will experience accelerated wear if pedaling at the smallest cogs (chain links bend more at the smaller cogs and with load applied, leads to more friction, wear, and hence, more energy wasted).

Less wear on the drive train to just hunker down in long downhill descents. Unless you need the workout and don't mind the extra wear on the drivetrain.
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Old 10-25-20, 05:46 AM
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Whats your objective?

Conserve energy or going as fast as possible? If its steep enough your going 35 mph without pedalling, adding 200Ws of pedalling isnt doing much difference to your speed. Less than 5 mph additional speed. Thats the nature of wind resistance. The power to overcome it increases by the cube(!) of the speed, meaning 2x speed is 8x power.

Imo, do what ever feels natural to you but know its more efficient conserving your energy to the uphill bits.
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Old 10-25-20, 02:58 PM
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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.
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Old 10-25-20, 03:11 PM
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The high gearing on my road bike is currently 52/13. My old legs won't pedal over 32MPH and my daily ride ends with a 7% grade for 1.75 miles and then a coast into home another 1/4 mile. I get aero and might hit 40 MPH but usually average about 38 MPH on the homestretch. I get winded really fast when I try spinning but I can hold a 64 RPM cadence forever. BTW-anything over 64 cadence to me is spinning. And if you're laughing now, let's see how you're doing at age 70 haha.
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Old 10-25-20, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Bigbus View Post
The high gearing on my road bike is currently 52/13. My old legs won't pedal over 32MPH and my daily ride ends with a 7% grade for 1.75 miles and then a coast into home another 1/4 mile. I get aero and might hit 40 MPH but usually average about 38 MPH on the homestretch. I get winded really fast when I try spinning but I can hold a 64 RPM cadence forever. BTW-anything over 64 cadence to me is spinning. And if you're laughing now, let's see how you're doing at age 70 haha.
I am not that old, but I do understand. In my 20ís 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.
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