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Descending in comfort(6 posts)

Descending in comfortMariowannabe
Jun 16, 2003 6:20 PM
I've started doing some serious hill climbing one a week - riding in the Pyranees this summer. On Sunday, I did a couple of climbs up Mr. Greylock in Mass - a 2600' climb. The climbs were OK, but the descent was torture! The hardest 8 miles I've spent on a bike.

I'd ridden 70 miles to the mountain. It was hot. The road was pretty rough - jarring frost heaves, pot hots, etc. every 50 yds or so. By half way down I was in pain - sore neck, sore arms, sore feet, head ache.

I'm wondering what I can do to make the descents a more enjoyable experience. Before, the way down was the time to recover! No such luck this time. Ideas:

1. Raise my handle bars 1 or 2 cm. I'm not used to that much time inthe drops.

2. Stop half way down to strech.

3. Stop compaining. Be a man.

Any advice would be appreciated.
re: Descending in comforttorquecal
Jun 16, 2003 7:01 PM
A lot of my downhills are rough roads. Basic advice to make them easier: sit up, ride on the hoods and slow down - don't be afraid to brake.

Of course, this doesn't help at all if your training for speed or racing - sorry about that.
re: Descending in comfortStarliner
Jun 16, 2003 7:43 PM
Be sure to relax as you ride down the hill - control the bars but don't strangle them; wiggle your shoulders and jiggle your head around every so often to relieve the neck and upper back muscles. On bumpy spots, lift your butt off your seat an inch or so to allow your legs to absorb the shock rather than having it rattle up your spine.

Despite all these measures attempting to make it a smoother, more pleasant ride down, you still always have to operate at a high concentration level if you and your bike are to successfully make it down the hill without problem. It's never going to be a time to do a lot of sightseeing.
re: Descending in comfortBergMann
Jun 16, 2003 8:01 PM
Some ideas, from least to most involved:

1) Bar height:
Your idea about raising your bars some is what I'd try first - it's easiest and doesn't call for buying much more than a couple of spacers.

2) Bar tape:
You could also do what many pros have traditionally done for races like Paris-Roubaix - add an additional layer of bar tape.

3) Tires.
What size/type of tire are you running? On rough pavement, don't run anything less than 23mm, and make sure you have a good, resilient tire. Also, what pressure are you running? If you're running a real high tire pressure (115psi+), try dropping it 10 psi. You don't want to go below 100psi to avoid the risk of pinch flat on the nasty stuff, but it's worth the minimal tradeoff in rolling resistance to get a bit more deflection out of your casing.

4) Bars
I accidentally discovered a great deal more comfort by upgrading to a new, lightweight set of bars. They're slightly flexier than my old, thick-walled Cinellis, but I was surprised at how much more comfortable riding in the drops was. The newer generation of carbon bars also eat up a good deal of shock.
Also: do you ride deep drop bars? A shallow drop is a good compromise in many cases: you can keep your accustomed bar-top riding position while effectively raising just your drops.

5) Suspension seatpost
Don't laugh. This is actually a cheaper option than getting a new set of bars, and swapping out posts is a lot faster than swapping out bars. Pricepoint.com has the ultra-reliable Rock Shox post for less than $50. I've used this post a good deal offroad, and if I were to spend a lot of time on bad surfaces with the road bike, I wouldn't hesitate to get the road version.

6) Fork.
You on a burly fork like an Alpha Q? Swap it out for something with a more resilient ride.
Suspension seatpostpitt83
Jun 17, 2003 4:48 AM
Not a terrible idea. That was the only way I could ride my Specialized for any length of time beyond 30 miles w/o getting killed. I decided the pedaling effeciency be damned, I wanted to ride without ingesting 8 ibuprophen to avoid pain.

YMMV.
Or a carbon post...BergMann
Jun 17, 2003 8:23 AM
If you are riding a compact, or have at least 4" of post showing above your frame, a good lightweight carbon post (i.e. Easton) will also eat up a lot of shock. It's less than half the comfort for at least double the money of the Rock Shox, but it's still an option.