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Apr 3, 2002 7:55 AM
There is a hill near my place that has a very steep portion. I think I heard it was like 12% or something like that and it gains about 400 feet (next time ill measure it). Anyway, I get going about 40mph while lightly on the brakes!!! I'm sure i could get near 50 if i actually pedaled. If it's important, i weigh about 185.

How do you guys do, going downhill? I still have less than a year experience riding and if it matters i'm riding on Conti sport tires($10.00). Though they are cheap they seem to ride fine but ill be upgrading since they are wearing quick.

Should I not fear going faster, do you have any tips on safety at high speeds? How fast do you guys get going. The hills (there are a few) are not straight, they have soft turns so that adds to the mix. I'm fine up to 35mph but thats about it.
What do you guys think
Wuss! ;-0 Seriously though...Brooks
Apr 3, 2002 8:32 AM
going fast downhill, like riding through corners or climbing well is a learned skill. Get comfortable at 35 and soon you will be ok at 40, then 45, etc. I usually grip the top tube with my knees for added stability and have my hands in the drops for access to the brake levers, if neded. You will see pros and others in full aero tuck with hands close together near the handlebar stem. That is a little shaky for me over 30-35 mph. Always ride with good tires, a blowout is always dangerous on the downhills.

don't go faster than you feel is safeRideLots
Apr 3, 2002 8:36 AM
Wus or not, you don't want to exceed your abilities.

I live in an area with big mountains, and regularly top 50 mph, almost every ride. Any more, 40 doesn't even feel fast. I've topped 60 several times, and that feels pretty fast to me.

You don't need to fear speed by itself. It depends upon the conditions. The conditions that concern me are traffic, road smoothness, road hazards, turns, water, wind, bike condition (mainly tires), my fatigue level, daylight, familiarity with the route, and other riders around. You sort of have to factor all that in, combined with your confidence, and judge for yourself.

I never brake purely to keep speed down to an arbitrary level. Braking, for me, is only to keep from running off the road or into something ahead of me.

Here are some suggestions:

*Stay loose on the bike, especially on rougher roads and turns. Use your arms and legs as shock absorbers. It's hard to control a bike that is not firmly incontact with the road.

*Be very careful around other inexperienced riders.

*Use a small mirror to see behind you. With that, you can usually use most of the lane and know whether a car is approaching from the rear.

*Don't cross the center line, and be aware of cars coming up the hill that might do so, especially on sharp turns.

*If you flat, don't panic. Ease on the brake on the other wheel. Practice this, and make sure you instictively know which brake goes with which wheel. If you flat with a clincher at speed it is possible that the tire will come off the rim and get stuck, locking up that wheel, so it is important to get slowed down before that happens. Don't try turning sharply with a flat tire. You'll go down.

*If you have to ditch, look for a good place. Remember Jan? Bushes and grass are much softer than pavement, cars, and guardrails.

*Watch the pavement ahead like a fighter pilot. Don't hit anything, no matter how innocuous it appears. Jump it or go around. Things that are merely annoying at 15 mph can cause a blowout at 50. Practice jumping stuff at slower speeds.

*Wear glasses.

*Stay out in the good, clean pavement as much as you can. It's a lot less likely that there will be hazards there.

*Practice your turns and braking. Follow some good riders down hills, and watch what they do and learn. My turning speed down hills increased substantially one day when I followed a good racer who was 20 pounds heavier than I am, and I realized that I certainly should be able to corner just as fast. I then kept up, and was suprised just how fast I could corner.

*Don't brake while turning if you can help it. Try to get the braking done before turning. The tires only have so much traction available, and it's usually better to use it for braking or turning, not both at once.
Ditto the good advice-rideslikeagirl
Apr 3, 2002 9:00 AM
I'm typically disappointed if my computer tells me my max speed on a ride was only 35 mph. I do think my max, max was 48, and I think that's about as fast as I need to go.

I never fly over pavement I'm not familiar with. I know every dip and pothole on my rides. But I don't take for granted that those won't have changed from one ride to the next.

A little fear is a healthy thing. So, take wing - but sanely! :)
ride a fixieAndante
Apr 3, 2002 9:00 AM
I can never get my fixed gear over 40 mph. The high 30s feel plenty fast to me!!
Epic crashes require high speeds.grzy
Apr 3, 2002 10:30 AM
It's a tradeoff between the rush of speed and the room for error and it's determined by your personality. Know your limits and only exceed them if and when you feel comfortable. Having gone down at an honest 50 mph I can tell you that some innocence was lost and it was quite a while before I put my demons back in their little box. Being able to eventually descend in tight formation coming out of the mountains with seven friends in excess of 52 mph was a hoot - except for that sudden stop sign at the end. I've seen people pass trucks in excess of 60 mph and I can't say I'm ready for that.

Take it slow and think about the tips presented by the previous posters. Take absolutely zero chances with your equipment. Remember that skin grows back, bones usually heal, and bikes can be repaired far quicker than your confidence can be restored.
Near death experience...rtolle
Apr 3, 2002 10:35 AM
I hit 62 mph on a ride out in Utah...problem being I don't live in Utah...I live in Indiana. I thought it was going to be a bit more straight as opposed to the curves that actually lied ahead. Speed like that and curves don't mix least not with me. I did not wreck but someone in our group did and the only thing that saved him from going over a 75ft. cliff was a guard rail. Needless to say I learned my lesson.
What about going fastersmilycook
Apr 3, 2002 11:49 AM
I just got my first road bike in January and we have some serious hills here in Idaho and I am having trouble keeping up with the group on the downhills. I am one of the first to the top of the hill but then on the downhill the group smokes me. I have a trek 2300 with rolf vector comps and factory gearing. If someone has some advice on how to go faster that would be great.
Speed shake on a 2300rtolle
Apr 3, 2002 1:11 PM
If anyone cares...the Trek 2300 gets that speed shake that others have spoke of about 60mph...and it scared the hell out of me. I ride w/Zipp 101's as opposed to the stock Rolf wheels.
Is this commonsmilycook
Apr 3, 2002 2:04 PM
Is this common to have speed shake on a treak 2300, wouldn't speed shake be mostly related to wheels? Or am I totally off.
"fast" is relativeDrD
Apr 3, 2002 11:45 AM
Always try to ride within your abilities (well - it's fun to be on the edge every now and then, but too much of that and sooner or later there could be trouble...) - if it feels fast to you, then it is. Also - some bikes seem to develop a shimmy at high speed (I've been fortunate and haven't had that happen) - make sure you know your equipment before the speed gets way up there!

Myself, I have topped out at 55-56mph around here - can't seem to get much faster (hills too short, and I am probably not getting aero enough) - if the descent has a fair number of turns in it, I usually keep it in the 46-48mph range as a max. I also make sure I can take the lane when going fast - you really don't want a blowout due to road debris, and most of that is on the side/in the shoulder.
better fred than deadtarwheel
Apr 3, 2002 12:00 PM
The best advice on decending is to take it easy on unfamiliar roads. Those corners (as well as potholes, gravel, etc) can really sneak up on you if you haven't ridden a route before. I had this happen to me one time while riding near my inlaws home in Greenville, SC. Coming down from a steep, long climb I got over-confident and rode too fast. Came upon a corner that I quickly realized was too tight to navigate with loose gravel on the pavement as well. I did all the wrong things -- locked up the brakes, went into the opposing lane of traffic -- but fortunately there were no cars coming from the other way. Just managed to keep my bike on the road. I won't repeat that mistake.
It is in the Prarie StatesAlex-in-Evanston
Apr 3, 2002 12:39 PM
Even on hammer rides with the occasional pro, a max speed over 35 is unusual. I'd crap my pants at 50mph.

Come to WisconsinAndy M-S
Apr 3, 2002 3:10 PM
There's a little bluff that I ride up and down for lunch. 35 is easy on the front of the bluff, even with the switchbacks. I've broken 50 going down the backside, which has a nice, long, straight, freshly-paved (last summer--yeah!) stretch.

PS--is it true that the mountain bikers in Chicago ride the steps in Sears Tower on weekends?
Apr 3, 2002 1:04 PM
Casper Mountain, Wyoming - I hit 49.8mph, (with brakes) my highest recorded speed. Loveland Pass, Colorado, going into Keystone on the Triple Bypass ride, my Flight Deck was inoperable, so I have no way of verifying my speed, but I am pretty certain I hit over 50 coming down. Having to slow down for the cars in my lane was ... different.

Speed is intoxicating. I get some and I want some more. I feel more comfortable on my bike than I do in my car. When I let my mind get in the way of my speed, I slow down. When I don't, I feel as though I am a part of the bike and slow only as conditions dictate. Hitting 40 is a regular occurance, but I have only occasional opportunities to get over 50. My Flight Deck works again, so I can verify the Triple Bypass speed this year.

When you get comfortable, not complacent, you'll go faster. And not a moment sooner. When it happens, you'll see. Let fear be your guide to an extent, but at some point you'll want to step into your fears and challenge them. That's exciting and satisfying.

Loveland pass was fun.Pack Meat
Apr 3, 2002 1:19 PM
I did that on the Triple last year. I was trying to keep up with this girl racer I know. We were doing 45 around the curves and passing the cars, it was good fun.
I was riding a Trek...moneyman
Apr 3, 2002 1:22 PM
And it was still fun!

Fast is fun, but not on a Trek.Pack Meat
Apr 3, 2002 1:16 PM
Last weekend I went into the hills, hit 53 on a long curvy downhill. That's when my extra long sleeve jersey that I had tucked into my back pocket started coming out. I was worried about it wrapping around my rear wheel or something so I had to tuck it back in. I was able to slow to about 40 with one hand on the bars going around curves while reaching behind and tucking the jersey in. That was a little scarey. The bad part is the gravel that they put on the roads here, you can slide out pretty quick if you're not careful. I think my favorite descent is Timberline road in Rocky Mt. Nat Park. It's fast, curvey and you can pass cars and there's no guard rails protecting you from the 100 ft drops. Mt. Evans is fun but way to cold.

The thing to remember is to keep your hands in your drops. Don't try and get cute and super aero by putting your hands together by the stem. This guy I know crashed at 45+ coming down Boulder Canyon a few years ago because he was doing that and the guy in front of him made a sudden move and he didn't have time to reach his brakes. I used to put one hand behind my back like a speed skater. Your bike only has to shimmy once before you never do that again.
riding down boulder canyon is dangerous anyway (nm)ColnagoFE
Apr 3, 2002 1:44 PM
At 92 bike shakes a little...any suggestions;) NMmikebikr
Apr 3, 2002 2:23 PM
bummer: get a beemer if 'ya want 2 wheels; a bimmer if 4Slipstream
Apr 3, 2002 3:11 PM
just reading these posts gives me vertigo! Boulder Canyon has too much traffic, otherwise it would be a great ride.

anyone ever hit a patch of ice on canyon rides? scares the s*&t out of me during the spring.
Loosen all the spokes a bit. That should help! nmElefantino
Apr 3, 2002 3:44 PM
Not to be completely off the topic, but also:Leisure
Apr 4, 2002 2:51 AM
Your fork and frame do play a role, and not just in terms of wobble. One fork I tested when shopping around for my current bike started to feel nasty anywhere over 20 (I think it was a Profile). My current fork feels pretty calm at 45, and one day I'll bother pedaling downhill to see how fast I can really go. Would I even bother trying 45 on the Profile? Yeah, but I probably wouldn't stay there more than five seconds at a time. Even if a lot of it is psychological, I wouldn't force the issue. Sometimes I look at the stem and for no reason at all think about what my teeth would feel like cracking on it, and slow down. Can't help it. Forks can certainly get worse; my friend's mtb had an Indy fork that felt nervous at 5 mph!
I crashed while descending...DINOSAUR
Apr 4, 2002 10:04 AM
I had a very nasty crash while descending two years ago. I thought I was a very experienced cyclist but what I didn't foresee was hitting a large piece of gravel with my front tire and then taking a very sharp left turn in which my front tire blew at about 25MPH. My greatest fear are road hazards, and riding in the shadows with dark glasses that are smeared with sweat and you have trouble peaking through them. I live in the foothills and ride nothing but hills. All kinds, up and down, slow and fast. I learned to ride faster my gradually training myself to push a bigger gear while climbing. My descending is controlled by light braking, especially if I'm whipping around curves and I can't see what is around the next bend. The pro's can descend at break neck speeds as they ride on closed courses and can use the entire width of the road to position their bikes. Also the roads are swept clean prior to the race. They probably ride with a new set of tires before each race. Climbing and descending skills come with experience. Just don't ride over your head, like I did, and if you land on your head, hopefully you will be wearing a helmet (like I was)...Don't ride faster than you think is can catch up on the flats or the next climb...
Yep, you're a WUSS! Seriously, though...look271
Apr 4, 2002 5:58 PM
Don't go faster than you are comfortable with. I'm a speed junkie and faster is better with me, be it bike, car, or anything else (I love rollercoasters!). As you gain more riding experience, you'll gradually get more comfortable at speed. Untill then, don't take a chance and do more than you are willing to handle.