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Where to put hands on a long descent?

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Where to put hands on a long descent?

Old 09-11-11, 11:13 PM
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Boomer
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Where to put hands on a long descent?

Newbie here (sort of)... I climbed 1500 feet today which wasn't the difficult part. The challenge was the descent. My hands cramped up from squeezing the brakes and had to stop several times to rest my hands. I was placing them on the hoods which required a stronger squeeze on the brakes. When I went to the drops, it required less pressure, but I did not feel as in control of the bike in the drops. Any suggestions?
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Old 09-11-11, 11:21 PM
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Drops, definitely if you are not fully confident. Even if it feels less in control (which surprises me) you do have better control - less likely to be jolted off the hoods and better power and modulation on the brakes.

And you shouldn't be braking non-stop the whole way down unless you're talking about a 15% gradient or something. Let 'er roll in a straight line to rest your hands and let the brakes cool, then brake for the corners if they are tight.
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Old 09-11-11, 11:25 PM
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Originally Posted by scirocco View Post
And you shouldn't be braking non-stop the whole way down unless you're talking about a 15% gradient or something. Let 'er roll in a straight line to rest your hands and let the brakes cool, then brake for the corners if they are tight.
First of all, not all of us are comfortable traveling in excess of 35mph, which is quite easy to achieve at less than 15% gradient.

Second - not all descents are in a straight line - in fact - I can't think of a single one where "letting her roll in straight line" won't put me into a guide rail.
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Old 09-11-11, 11:42 PM
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https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ght=descending

there is some great advice here about descending. A few of the protocols from motorcycling work but don't try adn hang off the side of your bike like they do. Physics'll get you.

And descending well is more about cornering than anything.

FWIW I descend in the drops because that shifts some of my weight forward over the front wheel and improves steering.

Or in the hoods if I want to descend slowly.
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Old 09-11-11, 11:51 PM
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The safest, most controlled descending done in the drops, so it's a good idea to get used to it. Practicing proper technique makes it better.

Good threads on cornering: https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...8205-Cornering

And descending: https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...escending-Fear
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Old 09-12-11, 07:05 AM
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Just get in the drops and ride the climbs and descents a lot. Practice makes perfect and you will get used to it. When I started I had hand problems also but a year later all that is gone. I spun out a 52.2 mph this weekend and felt perfectly safe (as long as I don't think about what would happen if I wreck,LOL!) at that speed and in control. As others say, brake before the turns but otherwise stay off the brakes as much as you can. If you are bothered by the speed and braking constantly then make sure to alternate your brakes to keep heat problems at bay if it's a long descent. More a problem with most carbon wheels than alloy although this seems be becoming less of a problem nowdays.
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Old 09-12-11, 07:30 AM
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+1 to getting more comfortable descending. One of the best tips is to relax - as you get more confident on descents, you'll feel the need to use less braking and use it in the right places.and yes, the right answer is in the drops.

If the climb was especially steep and/or twisty then maybe it's worth picking something a little less challenging to practice on?
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Old 09-12-11, 07:42 AM
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There are three very important reasons to be in the drops on a descent:

1. You get better leverage on the brake levers, improving stopping power.
2. You lower your center of gravity giving you better balance through turns.
3. Your hands are behind the bars, giving you a firmer grip. Your body weight will tend to shift forward going downhill, and this is exacerbated by braking. If you are on the hoods, the chances of your hands slipping off the bars are increased.

It may be hard to stay in the drops that long and your neck may be killing you in the end, but it is much safer and wiser to stay in the drops during long descents.
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Old 09-12-11, 09:13 AM
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1500 ft is good but its not like you are descending for 30 mins solid where your hands should get tired. You just need to get more comfortable with the speed. Ease into it on smaller hills. I don't want to go fast at the top and scary fast at the bottom. Hold your max comfortable speed on the middle of the hill, let your brakes off at the bottom when you can see its going to flatten out and slow down naturally. This will let you creep up in max speed but you won't get as freaked because you will only hit it momentarily and then slow gradually without needing to use the brakes. Spending time at speed will get you used to it and let you relax more as you become more familiar. I started out freaking at 30mph, now that feels pretty tame and I'm very relaxed. Currently I'm ok in the low 40s but hit 48 yesterday and wasn't that comfortable. Keep hitting that route, I'm sure I'll hit 50 eventually and then 50 with a looser, comfortable grip. Don't rush it, you'll get there
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Old 09-12-11, 09:17 AM
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I put them over my eyes. Big descents scare me.
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Old 09-12-11, 10:00 AM
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Thanks for the great advice. I don't have particularly strong forearms which may contribute to my hands getting tired. I will try to get more comfortable in the drops at speed. Should I adjust the brakes to have more play such that when I squeeze them fully my hands are near full clinch? It would seem that would make my hands less tired.
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Old 09-12-11, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by FlashBazbo View Post
I put them over my eyes. Big descents scare me.
also dont forget that when it is rather chilly, sticking them down the front of your shorts keeps everything warm, plus one gets the opportunity to practice no-hands-turns.
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Old 09-12-11, 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Boomer View Post
Thanks for the great advice. I don't have particularly strong forearms which may contribute to my hands getting tired. I will try to get more comfortable in the drops at speed. Should I adjust the brakes to have more play such that when I squeeze them fully my hands are near full clinch? It would seem that would make my hands less tired.
Just don't adjust them so they bottom out on the bars. That would reduce your braking ability and is unsafe. If you're serious about using the drops more, you may need to move the levers to be a better fit in that position. Most people set theirs for riding on the hoods, which puts them too high for the drops. Moving them down the bars a little bit could be just the ticket, though it also depends on bar position.

A side view of your bars/brake levers would help.
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Old 09-12-11, 10:20 AM
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Why don't you get comfortable in the drops on a flat road ride?
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Old 09-12-11, 10:29 AM
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Drops. People are giving you great advice. Do you wear gloves? If your hands are getting sore holding the bars on the way down, you might want some gloves, or gel or cork bar tape, to absorb a little of the buzz for you.
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Old 09-12-11, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Boomer View Post
Thanks for the great advice. I don't have particularly strong forearms which may contribute to my hands getting tired. I will try to get more comfortable in the drops at speed. Should I adjust the brakes to have more play such that when I squeeze them fully my hands are near full clinch? It would seem that would make my hands less tired.
I'd be inclined to have less play rather than more play. First of all, your hands have to fight the brake springs regardless of whether the pads even contact the rim, and the more you have to squeeze, the more resistance the spring will give. Secondly, your brakes will heat up and become less effective as you descent. If you have too much play, you may find you can't put enough pressure on them which is very dangerous.

The fatigue you report is excessive for a 1500 foot descent (hands shouldn't hurt and you definitely shouldn't need to rest) unless something is wrong. If you are dragging the brakes all the way down, don't. Riding your brakes will contribute to fatigue and you'll need to squeeze a lot harder since they won't be able to cool down. Instead, pulse them.

That you feel less in control in the drops makes me wonder if there is an issue with how your bike was set up.
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Old 09-12-11, 10:47 AM
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You want to keep your joints loose -- fingers, wrists, elbows, shoulders. Everything loosey-goosey. It takes practice so keep at it.
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Old 09-12-11, 11:18 AM
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^^ Absolutely. Doing the Death Grip on descents will wear you out in a hurry.

don't ride the brakes. Squeeze, release, squeeze, relase. It works.
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Old 09-12-11, 03:23 PM
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On descents the hands go on the drops. Practice makes better.You may need shims in your brake handles so you don't have to reach too far, or have your hands on the brakes the whole time.
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Old 09-12-11, 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by DScott View Post
^^ Absolutely. Doing the Death Grip on descents will wear you out in a hurry.

don't ride the brakes. Squeeze, release, squeeze, relase. It works.
+1, death grip was my first thought when he said he was tired.
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Old 09-12-11, 06:44 PM
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+1 on shims if your hands are small. I have little hands so repositioning my levers and adding shims fixed my problems. Mine was safety issue as I really had to reach with just my thumbs hooked on the bars to grab my brakes. Keep practicing in the drops and it will get better. I haven't seen anyone mention building up your core but that will help also. Get your core strong and your arms will have to do a lot less work.
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Old 09-13-11, 10:49 AM
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I like to descend with my hands on the tops, right next to the stem, and my chin on my knuckles ("full aero tuck"). But then I'm an aggressive descender and my downhills aren't all that tight and technical.

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Old 09-13-11, 10:51 AM
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I like using the drops as long as I have access to the brake leveres from them. Otherwise switch from top of bar to hoods but I don't like that nearly as much.
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Old 09-13-11, 10:54 AM
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Unfortunately, frozen to the brake levers..
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Old 09-13-11, 10:58 AM
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Hands up in the air, going "WHEEEEE"!



In the drops, tucked in when I come to my senses
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