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How fast have you gone on a downhill descent

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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

How fast have you gone on a downhill descent

Old 08-13-14, 09:53 AM
  #1  
CenturionIM
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How fast have you gone on a downhill descent

I don't mind going fast on a flat course, when I am powering the bicycle myself. But I get pretty nervous on a downhill descent if the bike goes above 30mph. Just cannot get past the thought of if there is a road imperfection I will go down.

How fast have you gone and how do you keep yourself safe and psyched?
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Old 08-13-14, 10:11 AM
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banerjek
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Originally Posted by CenturionIM View Post
I don't mind going fast on a flat course, when I am powering the bicycle myself. But I get pretty nervous on a downhill descent if the bike goes above 30mph. Just cannot get past the thought of if there is a road imperfection I will go down.

How fast have you gone and how do you keep yourself safe and psyched?
Don't get psyched. High speed is all about relaxing. If you're not relaxed when something goes wrong, your odds of crashing go up dramatically.

Also, 30mph is not fast. That is achievable on flats with pedaling alone.
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Old 08-13-14, 10:14 AM
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i used to do alot of longboarding, i would go down hill at around 65km/h (40ish) and sometimes faster. its all about confidence and trusting yourself.
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Old 08-13-14, 10:14 AM
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63kph (39mph) on my Bullittt (cargo) bike. More than that on more "sporty" rides (in the past).

Relax, and put the weight towards the rear.
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Old 08-13-14, 10:17 AM
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As previously stated the best thing you can do on a fast descent is relax. That being said, it gets hard for me to relax at around 35mph. Visions of hospital bills and recovery time start flashing through my mind. Personally, my top speed is 45-46mph, IIRC. That was plenty fast for me.
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Old 08-13-14, 10:18 AM
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I start getting nervous at 35. I did 50 once. I was relaxed and hyper alert the whole time. It was fairly straight, wide, and had two traffic lanes in addition to a bike lane. I got out into the right hand traffic lane, and felt safer out there. There were also no side streets on the long downhill. That is an important confidence booster to me since evading cars coming from the side is a huge concern at that speed.
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Old 08-13-14, 10:36 AM
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I'm getting old and cautious, these days. But on a straight downhill with good visibility I'd be happy to exceed 50 mph. I've never been thrown off the bike by a "road imperfection" in my life - if you can see clearly where you're going, any pothole or ridge sufficient to do that to you will be clearly visible - and if the road is in really poor condition, I'm not going to be hammering down it anyway.

Not many hills like that round here, though, so it's a while since I went past 50. I'm more careful than I used to be on more technical descents, I tend to back off before the corners instead of arcing through them. Still comfortable in the high thirties, low forties, though, where road conditions permit.

Get in the drops, pick a line - wide in, wide out, hit the apex - and don't go careering into the oncoming traffic. It comes with practice, and when you get it, it's exhilarating.
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Old 08-13-14, 10:38 AM
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Strava shows my top speed ever as being 55mph, but that seems much higher than I remember on that ride. I seem to remember my Garmin showing something like 48mph or so. I'd say I start to get a little tense above about 40, but it really all depends on the descent. If it's wide and open, no problem...but if it's a bit more technical, I'm probably going to try and scrub some speed even if I'm not at the road/bike limits, my bike handling limits and confidence likely are lower. Anything under 35 doesn't really bother me at all unless conditions are pretty sketchy.
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Old 08-13-14, 10:42 AM
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I got an excellent tip this past weekend that has helped me visualize what to do with my body in turns...when you turn into the apex drop your shoulder into it... Fastest I've been on my Garmin is 47mph.. Know the road, have good rubber.
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Old 08-13-14, 11:15 AM
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Once many years ago I hit 50mph. Was staying and riding in Mt. Lassen NP. On the 4th or 5th day of doing the same out and back from the Manzanita CG is coming down one of the long straight sections and just let the bike run without braking until the next curve. I'd been over this same stretch several times and knew the road was good and there were no side roads for traffic to enter.

Now anything over sustained 35mph makes me nervous. I've had a couple of scares over the years. One time coming off of Tioga Pass a gust of wind almost brought me down at close to 40mph and then in Colorado a couple of years back I was descending in the road and looked back to see a car approaching so I moved over to the shoulder and didn't see the the rumble strip. That still makes me pucker thinkin abut it.
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Old 08-13-14, 11:18 AM
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My best is 92kph.
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Old 08-13-14, 11:21 AM
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Both Strava and Cateye have registered speeds in the low 50s for me, but that's been very much found out after the fact as I'd never be looking at my computer or phone at that speed. There's one particular descent near me that has a mile of double digit gradient, and pool-table smooth asphalt with sweeping bends and no gates or side roads. Even with the perfect surface and well defined centre-stripe, it's still a shock to be going down there and see a car coming the other way.

I'm not a hell-for-leather descender; my policy is that my braking distance has to be less than my line of sight, so on some winding roads with a lot of trees I'll take a corner a lot slower than I could. I'm pretty confident in open sweeping bends, and can get a good tuck going when I spin out my 50x12; I've freewheeled past people who were pedalling on more than one occasion.
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Old 08-13-14, 11:21 AM
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49.7 on a fully loaded touring bike. These days, I don't go much above 30 mph on a downhill descent. I take blood thinners. Me and injuries don't play well together. Slower on uphill descents.
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Old 08-13-14, 11:45 AM
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My top speed is 35. I am also still nervous on the downhills. Most of the really steep ones that I ride where you can get much higher speeds are winding mountain roads and I'm afraid of cars/trucks around the bends not to mention being afraid of flying off the side of a mountain
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Old 08-13-14, 12:04 PM
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I saw 77 km/h (47 m/h) once on a downhill.
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Old 08-13-14, 12:09 PM
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My fastest ever was 55 mph descending Mt. Mitchell. I passed a car that was going too slow on the descent!

My wife was following me in our car, and she witnessed me experience the second biggest pucker moment of my cycling experience. I entered a blind curve at said 55 mph, and right in the apex of the turn was a bunch of gravel that had been kicked onto the asphalt by cars running off the road on the inside apex. I was going so fast I couldn't swerve to avoid, so I came out of my tuck, hit the brakes as hard as I could prior to hitting the gravel, then released the brakes just prior to the gravel and focused on my exit point (as well as prayed). I felt the bike skip around underneath me, but it caught traction and I recovered and exited the turn just fine. I went considerably slower for the remainder of the descent. My wife said that she could literally see my bike bounce sideways a couple of feet at a time, and she thought I was going down. She wasn't happy with me.

Stay safe by scanning as far down the road as you possibly can so you can plan ahead -- I didn't do this when I went into that blind turn. I kept myself psyched by constantly thinking about just how much skin would be peeled from my body if I were to go down at 55 mph with nothing but a thin layer of spandex/polyester between the asphalt and my skin. At the time I had a motorcycle and always rode with protective gear . . . I found it ironic that I was doing the same speed on my bicycle with significantly less protective gear.
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Old 08-13-14, 12:14 PM
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Highest was 44 mph according to Garmin. Quite a few between 40 and 42. It's fun going that fast.
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Old 08-13-14, 12:18 PM
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If I recall correctly, 46MPH is about the fastest I've gone and I have to push pretty hard on the hardest gear to get to that pace! Got some pretty steep hills at my place, but they are all technical descents and none have a long enough straight way to be able to pick up speed.
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Old 08-13-14, 12:19 PM
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Hit 50.6mph on a descent in Idaho this summer. I don't really get 'psyched' anymore.
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Old 08-13-14, 12:21 PM
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51.7 mph on a steep straight descent. I was drafting a semi.

Bike Ride Profile | >Prescott>Red Wing>Prairie Island>Hastings near Hastings | Times and Records | Strava
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Old 08-13-14, 12:26 PM
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53 m/h (85 km/h) for me.

I never consider myself safe at that sort of speed and can't say I stay psyched for very long.
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Old 08-13-14, 12:35 PM
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Just over 40 mph for me, but I live in Florida, so my excuse is "what hills?" :-)
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Old 08-13-14, 12:54 PM
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55mph per Strava:

Bike Ride Profile | Beatty Repeats near El Dorado Hills | Times and Records | Strava
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Old 08-13-14, 01:05 PM
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55 kph according to my friend's computer. The only thing more fun is the climb!

Last edited by JPeters; 08-13-14 at 01:41 PM.
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Old 08-13-14, 01:10 PM
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For the folks referencing Strava... It's quite inaccurate regarding top speeds.
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