Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Road Cycling
Reload this Page >

Freaked out, is it normal?

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

Freaked out, is it normal?

Old 08-21-08, 09:01 AM
  #1  
Charms35
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Charms35's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 6
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Freaked out, is it normal?

I am a fairly good road cyclist, I can easily contend with cars, pedestrians, in-line skaters and other cyclists on our capital’s roadway and when you have a good mixture of these, you get a good ride, you change the ingredients and you can get quite the explosive situation.

I am always looking at ways to improve and to meet new challenges. I was recently invited to take part in what I believed was a new form of cycling sport, which I now know is definitely not for me.

This new cycling sport is sort of a triple event with the first part being rolling on a regular road. The second part made me change my mind rather quickly as it consisted in a vertical climb, steep enough to rival mountain-face climbing. At this point I was thinking, this is tough but wow what a great workout, don’t know if I can do this often but I will be in shape in no time doing this. The third part can only be described as jumping off a high cliff strapped to a bike. Now this is the part that convinced me that there is nothing like a flat road where I can control the speed and direction I am going. Do not kid yourselves, I do like speed on my bike but I am not sure these things were ever designed to be supersonic. The part that really got to me was being passed by other even more supersonic cyclists. Are these people insane, aren’t they afraid of going so fast that smoke comes out of the wheel bearings and that the slightest touch of the brakes will disintegrate or melt away in 3 seconds, what do you do if someone or something or some car is in the way…?


I like to believe that I am a good cyclist, reasonable and conscious of dangers to me and to others. My questions are:

1. Is it normal to be scared ****less the first time you are confronted with going down such steep hills with cars and cyclists everywhere?

2. Are there any special techniques that can help one master the hills, both going up and going down?
Charms35 is offline  
Old 08-21-08, 09:10 AM
  #2  
nachomc
Senior Member
 
nachomc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Sacramento, CA
Posts: 1,259

Bikes: Epic and Tarmac

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
1. In those kinds of situations, with other cyclists and vehicles, if there's no shoulder, you have to take the lane. You should also try and maintain a reasonable speed so you don't hose up traffic. Stay to the right of the lane so other faster cyclists can pass safely. It's extremely frustrating to be descending a nice road and a slower rider is all over the lane so you can't get around safely.

2. Going up you have to find out what works for you. Some people can stand and hammer all day, others can sit and spin. If you're sitting you want to keep your cadence up, try to get your body forward such that you're right over the cranks but still far enough back that you're not completely un-weighting the rear wheel. On the way down, get off your seat a little and put your butt back - you basically want to be hovering over the rear of the seat. Point the bike down the hill and go - maintain speed in your comfort zone by applying brakes as needed. Just be slow, controlled and smooth when you are turning the bike (preferably you're leaning the bike at speed), and when you're braking. Have fun too I guess.
nachomc is offline  
Old 08-21-08, 09:29 AM
  #3  
bryroth
Senior Member
 
bryroth's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 856
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 13 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
What do your friends call this new form of cycling sport?

Also, if your new friends look like this, then stay away.

bryroth is offline  
Old 08-21-08, 09:45 AM
  #4  
permanentjaun
Senior Member
 
permanentjaun's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1,713
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Can you give us an indication on what speeds you were hitting?
permanentjaun is offline  
Old 08-21-08, 10:31 AM
  #5  
Saint
Senior Member
 
Saint's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Southwest Michigan
Posts: 91

Bikes: Cannondale R300 (Upgraded)

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by bryroth View Post
What do your friends call this new form of cycling sport?

Also, if your new friends look like this, then stay away.

ROFL - That was funny.
Saint is offline  
Old 08-21-08, 10:40 AM
  #6  
Charms35
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Charms35's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 6
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Actually the friend in question that invited me to take part in this new sport is more an acquaintance more than anything else. In fact it is not quite that either. It is a person that answered my add for a cycling partner to ride after work.

I got this nice e-mail saying, “I go riding 4-5 times a week, I would also like to have a cycling partner for this”. It looked really interesting and fun. We exchanged e-mails few time and decided that we would at least try it once to see if we shared the same passion for riding.

We met up and there and then I should have clued in. In front of me was a person, about 5 foot 5 inches and all you could see from a distance was two huge legs with a torso. Cycling has been around for a while and guess I will be able to learn from a seasoned cyclist. My first gleam of what was to come was when we took off. The legs actually managed to make the bike tires squeal on take off. On the flat I could keep up and actually was the one that had to wait. As soon as we hit the inclines, it was like lighting retro-rockets under the seat. In two seconds, I found myself lagging behind about 200 meters. I tried, I do not see myself as a wimp. I am relatively new at cycling (second year) but I have been in the gyms and a runner for the last 10 years and have built up a descent cardio vascular system and a reasonable muscle tone but this was way insufficient to keep up on the up-stretch.

Going down we were hitting 75Km per hour and more. Being the first time I achieve this speed without having a car around me to protect me, I was really nervous and scared even.
Charms35 is offline  
Old 08-21-08, 10:58 AM
  #7  
Beaker
moth -----> flame
 
Beaker's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: SF Bay Area
Posts: 5,913

Bikes: 11 CAAD 10-4, 07 Specialized Roubaix Comp, 98 Peugeot Horizon

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
In answer to your questions:

1) I think it is normal to find a steep downhill somewhat intimidating. It takes practice to get used to and appreciate it

2) Nachomc covered the main points. There's no substitute for practice, and there are always better climbers.

If you want to keep working at this I'd consider going back without the other riders, and/or at a quieter time of day to get used to the road. There are a few 50+mph descents round here that can be a real blast, but you need to have confidence to enjoy it -- relax your arms, avoid the death grip. Know when to brake and when to go with the flow and how to deal with the turns, and where the potholes/manholes are.
Beaker is offline  
Old 08-21-08, 11:11 AM
  #8  
permanentjaun
Senior Member
 
permanentjaun's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1,713
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Yea 75 km/h can begin to feel hairy. Humans weren't meant to travel that fast. It takes some getting used to, but I can assure you that you get used to it. It all comes down to how comfortable you are in handling the bike. On my tour my bike weighed over 100 lbs loaded. I hit some downhills where I hit 88-90 km/h and the thing was like riding on rails. It wanted to go in straight lines. I could sit there, reach for my waterbottle, move around to rest my loins, and the thing was just plain solid at those speeds.

In time you'll get used to it and it's plenty worth it.
permanentjaun is offline  
Old 08-21-08, 11:42 AM
  #9  
kudude
slow up hills
 
kudude's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 4,931

Bikes: Giant TCR, Redline CX, Ritchey Breakaway, Spec S-works epic

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
75kph is fast for flat land, and is even fast for some hills, but it's far from unheard of. How curvy was the downhill?
kudude is offline  
Old 08-21-08, 01:59 PM
  #10  
pagliaci
Senior Member
 
pagliaci's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 325
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
If you're freaked out by speed, slow down. Done.
pagliaci is offline  
Old 08-21-08, 02:07 PM
  #11  
umd
Banned
 
umd's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Santa Barbara, CA
Posts: 28,387

Bikes: Specialized Tarmac SL2, Specialized Tarmac SL, Giant TCR Composite, Specialized StumpJumper Expert HT

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by permanentjaun View Post
I hit some downhills where I hit 88-90 km/h and the thing was like riding on rails. It wanted to go in straight lines. I could sit there, reach for my waterbottle, move around to rest my loins, and the thing was just plain solid at those speeds.
The best I've hit is 88.5. Still trying to get the "metric century speed". Maybe today's the day. Just need to get on the right wheel at the start of the descent. Little guys like me have a hard time powering down that fast on our own
umd is offline  
Old 08-21-08, 02:15 PM
  #12  
banerjek
Portland Fred
 
banerjek's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 11,504

Bikes: Custom Winter, Challenge Seiran SL, Fuji Team Pro, Cattrike Road/Velokit, РOS hybrid

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 205 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 16 Times in 12 Posts
Originally Posted by pagliaci View Post
If you're freaked out by speed, slow down. Done.
+1
It is dangerous to ride at speeds that scare you. 75km/h is very fast, but you can go even faster under the right circumstances. Fast descents are all about relaxing because if you're stiff, your reaction to problems (hitting something, tire going down, etc) won't be right and you'll wipe out.

Ride at speeds that don't freak you out. As you get used to it, the speed will come naturally.

One thing to also keep in mind is that you should not go faster than you're willing to crash, since there's a decent chance you will someday.
banerjek is offline  
Old 08-21-08, 02:19 PM
  #13  
nachomc
Senior Member
 
nachomc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Sacramento, CA
Posts: 1,259

Bikes: Epic and Tarmac

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by umd View Post
The best I've hit is 88.5. Still trying to get the "metric century speed". Maybe today's the day. Just need to get on the right wheel at the start of the descent. Little guys like me have a hard time powering down that fast on our own
I start hitting a mental barrier at about 45mph. I couldn't imagine 50+ :\
nachomc is offline  
Old 08-21-08, 02:33 PM
  #14  
UniversalFrost
AiM SmAlL mIsS sMaLl
 
UniversalFrost's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Belpre, Ohio
Posts: 293

Bikes: 08 Spec. Rockhopper, 11 Spec. Crux, 04 Cervelo Soloist

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
just be aggressive and take the lane. By law you have the right to (the cars may not agree). Otherwise just slow down and stay on the side of the lane.

and nachomc 45 is fun and 50 is better, just wait till 60.

unfortunately 45 is no fun when your rear tire blows out and you hurtle into rocks (happened to me in july). STill get right back on the back (as soon as you heal up) and go hit the same hill/spot where you wiped out.

JOE
UniversalFrost is offline  
Old 08-21-08, 03:13 PM
  #15  
dallasmike
Member
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 140

Bikes: 2005 Trek 1000

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I think you guys are right. The unexpected could always happen, but more important is to know your confidence level in yourself, and possibly just as important, the confidence level you have in the mechanical reliability of your bike.
dallasmike is offline  
Old 08-21-08, 03:32 PM
  #16  
Reynolds 
Passista
 
Reynolds's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 6,620

Bikes: 1998 Pinarello Asolo, 1992 KHS Montaña pro, 1980 Raleigh DL-1, IGH Hybrid, IGH Utility

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 462 Post(s)
Liked 24 Times in 20 Posts
I'd never ride at 75 kmh with cars around.
Reynolds is offline  
Old 08-21-08, 03:39 PM
  #17  
Patriot
Faith-Vigilance-Service
 
Patriot's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Port Orchard, WA
Posts: 8,330

Bikes: Trinity, Paradisus, Centurion, Mongoose, Trek

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
OP,

As time goes on, your lamentations will subside from fear of riding at higher speeds, while your skills and "no fear" level naturally rise from a natural desire to defeat thine enemy into complete humiliation upon the sands of the battlefield.

__________________
President, OCP
--"Will you have some tea... at the theatre with me?"--
Patriot is offline  
Old 08-22-08, 11:16 AM
  #18  
Charms35
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Charms35's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 6
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I would like to thank everyone who responded to my posting and for the good replies and sound advice given. I even appreciated the simplistic answers from pagliaci, as he seems especially good at stating the obvious. duh!, I don’t know if I would have thought of that on my own, I guess I should have done that rather than go down the entire hill screaming, why didn’t I think of that….

In any case, for the other responders, the ones with real advice, I would like to say that I have since I first posted started to practice going down relatively steep hills. I have found less congested routes that have reasonably challenging hills and I have been practicing. I have even managed to ease up on my “grip of death”, my handle bars will forever be grateful. I will continue this until I feel I have the reflexes to take the real steep hills. I understand and know that for seasoned cyclists that have experienced many different situations, this would sound trivial and vane but for novices to the hills, it is not as obvious.

Thanks to everyone and I appreciate a forum such as this where people, for the most part, try their best at helping people.
Charms35 is offline  
Old 08-22-08, 11:20 AM
  #19  
munkyv22
You got Madoned!
 
munkyv22's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Rio Rancho, NM
Posts: 1,728

Bikes: 2006 Trek Madone 5.2 SL

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by banerjek View Post
One thing to also keep in mind is that you should not go faster than you're willing to crash, since there's a decent chance you will someday.
+1,000,000

Hitting the pavement at 50 Mph wearing spandex shorts would NOT be fun.
munkyv22 is offline  
Old 08-22-08, 11:44 AM
  #20  
urbanknight
In beaurocratic limbo
 
urbanknight's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 22,456

Bikes: Specialized Allez, K2 Razorback

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by banerjek View Post
One thing to also keep in mind is that you should not go faster than you're willing to crash, since there's a decent chance you will someday.
Although I agree on the whole, I think that's a poor way of putting it. I'm not "willing" to crash at any speed, but I'm also not "willing" to sit around like a pu$$y and not have any fun, so I compromise and take what comes.
__________________
"Well, I guess you can cut the arts as much as you want... Sooner or later, these kids aren't going to have anything to read or write about." (Richard Dreyfus as Glenn Holland)
urbanknight is offline  
Old 08-22-08, 11:44 AM
  #21  
banerjek
Portland Fred
 
banerjek's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 11,504

Bikes: Custom Winter, Challenge Seiran SL, Fuji Team Pro, Cattrike Road/Velokit, РOS hybrid

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 205 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 16 Times in 12 Posts
Originally Posted by UniversalFrost View Post
just be aggressive and take the lane. By law you have the right to (the cars may not agree).
On fast descents, the cars typically don't mind because they wouldn't be able to go much faster anyway on most mountain roads. Plus, your speed can intrigue them (i.e. they're curious or excited rather than mad). Even downhill, a bike going anywhere near 50 will impress most motorists.

One thing to be aware of is that sidewinds and wind blasts from RV's and trucks can be destabilizing when you're moving fast. Take lots of space and maintain plenty of distance from everything.
banerjek is offline  
Old 08-22-08, 11:45 AM
  #22  
umd
Banned
 
umd's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Santa Barbara, CA
Posts: 28,387

Bikes: Specialized Tarmac SL2, Specialized Tarmac SL, Giant TCR Composite, Specialized StumpJumper Expert HT

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by umd View Post
The best I've hit is 88.5. Still trying to get the "metric century speed". Maybe today's the day. Just need to get on the right wheel at the start of the descent. Little guys like me have a hard time powering down that fast on our own
Yesterday was not the day. I got on the wheel of the guy I wanted but I started to get a speed wobble around 55mph so I backed off. The hill drops 500ft in a mile, so it's 10%. It's not for the faint of heart.
umd is offline  
Old 08-22-08, 11:46 AM
  #23  
banerjek
Portland Fred
 
banerjek's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 11,504

Bikes: Custom Winter, Challenge Seiran SL, Fuji Team Pro, Cattrike Road/Velokit, РOS hybrid

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 205 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 16 Times in 12 Posts
Originally Posted by urbanknight View Post
Although I agree on the whole, I think that's a poor way of putting it. I'm not "willing" to crash at any speed, but I'm also not "willing" to sit around like a pu$$y and not have any fun, so I compromise and take what comes.
How about, you have to come to terms with the inherent risks that go with speed? No sane person wants to wipe out at high speed, but you shouldn't go that fast if you cannot accept the consequences.
banerjek is offline  
Old 08-22-08, 11:50 AM
  #24  
Beaker
moth -----> flame
 
Beaker's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: SF Bay Area
Posts: 5,913

Bikes: 11 CAAD 10-4, 07 Specialized Roubaix Comp, 98 Peugeot Horizon

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by banerjek View Post
How about, you have to come to terms with the inherent risks that go with speed? No sane person wants to wipe out at high speed, but you shouldn't go that fast if you cannot accept the consequences.
Seems as though we all agree that it's good to find out how fast your bike can go, but it's about calculated risks and knowing what you're getting into. The thing that I think is tough to underestimate is how long it takes you to slow down from 40-50+. When I'm nudging 50 on a downhill, I'm always impressed by the effort it takes to bring the bike back to just 30mph. Even then, meeting the asphalt at 30 isn't a great prospect.
Beaker is offline  
Old 08-22-08, 11:52 AM
  #25  
umd
Banned
 
umd's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Santa Barbara, CA
Posts: 28,387

Bikes: Specialized Tarmac SL2, Specialized Tarmac SL, Giant TCR Composite, Specialized StumpJumper Expert HT

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by banerjek View Post
On fast descents, the cars typically don't mind because they wouldn't be able to go much faster anyway on most mountain roads. Plus, your speed can intrigue them (i.e. they're curious or excited rather than mad). Even downhill, a bike going anywhere near 50 will impress most motorists.
I've passed my share of motorists on descents. Most realize what is going on an move out of the way but I've had a few intentionally take turns really wide to try to block me. I've also had many people pull up alongside after a fast descent and tell me they were pacing me and ask did I know I was going ##mph in amazement. Most of the time they read a much higher speed than I was actually going.

Edit: I just remembered that one of the guys on our ride last night said he saw someone take a picture of us on the fast descent. We go by the same place every week at the same time +/- 10 minutes so I have to wonder if they had seen us other weeks and figured out we would be there again. I also have to wonder if they took the picture because they thought it was neat, or because they were upset and wanted proof

Last edited by umd; 08-22-08 at 11:58 AM.
umd is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.