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Hello,

Yesterday I did a race with about 7000 feet of climbing. I could climb with the pack but as soon as it was time to go down they would fly right by me. This made me loose several positions at the end.

I am 5'6" at 140#. My technical skills are great so is it my small size causing me to descend so slowly.

At this point if my size is the problem then I am going to gain weight.

Thanks!
 

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descending

Gall said:
Hello,

Yesterday I did a race with about 7000 feet of climbing. I could climb with the pack but as soon as it was time to go down they would fly right by me. This made me loose several positions at the end.

I am 5'6" at 140#. My technical skills are great so is it my small size causing me to descend so slowly.

At this point if my size is the problem then I am going to gain weight.

Thanks!

Then they will pass you on the way up! Just tuck in close behind a wheel and ride the draft down. No reason you should lose any places if you are positioned right.
 

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It's called...

Gall said:
Hello,

Yesterday I did a race with about 7000 feet of climbing. I could climb with the pack but as soon as it was time to go down they would fly right by me. This made me loose several positions at the end.

I am 5'6" at 140#. My technical skills are great so is it my small size causing me to descend so slowly.

At this point if my size is the problem then I am going to gain weight.

Thanks!
It's called aerodynamics. I've seen guys who were your size, fly past guys that were my size (180) on downhills simply because they were tucked in better than me. Get low, get aero, you'll be fine.

And it's "lose" not "loose". I know, internet spelling police and all, it's just that using the word "loose" when you meant to use "lose" is one of my all time pet peeves. Stupid OCD.
 

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It has nothing to do with mass. Actually smaller size riders have a smaller surface area, therefore in theory should have less drag. You need to make yourself small. Pull in your knees, get in the drops, flatten your back.. and draft the faster guys.

Is your number flapping around like crazy? How is your cornering? It takes time to develop a high degree of confidence in high-speed cornering. Do you have a place where you can climb and descend regularly?
 

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It's all ball bearings
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bullet tuck

There's always the bullet tuck to use on the downhill straightaways... knees pulled in tight, chin/neck about an inch above your stem, and your croch pretty much resting on your toptube with the small of your back tucked under the nose of your saddle, with hands in drops (or close-gripped next to stem if you are really ballsy). It's a ballsy position to be in for sure, but it's also the fastest one. The sketchy part is getting into and out of it smoothly.

Other than that, work on your cornering skills/confidence for the sharper corners.

Those two scenarios are where you will save the most time.
 

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BenWA said:
There's always the bullet tuck to use on the downhill straightaways... knees pulled in tight, chin/neck about an inch above your stem, and your croch pretty much resting on your toptube with the small of your back tucked under the nose of your saddle, with hands in drops (or close-gripped next to stem if you are really ballsy). It's a ballsy position to be in for sure, but it's also the fastest one. The sketchy part is getting into and out of it smoothly.

Other than that, work on your cornering skills/confidence for the sharper corners.

Those two scenarios are where you will save the most time.
And practice alone...

These positions are second nature ONCE YOU PRACTICE THEM ON YOUR OWN.
If you don't do them except for race day, it will be bad.
 

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estone2 said:
And practice alone...

These positions are second nature ONCE YOU PRACTICE THEM ON YOUR OWN.
If you don't do them except for race day, it will be bad.
Yes, an important disclaimer.

It is a difficult position to become comfortable with and it carries with it a significantly greater risk to you and other cyclists in close proximity to you. It's not advisable to use the bullet tuck when riding in proximity to others. Use at your own risk, on straightaways, during solo/isolated descent efforts.
 

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What kind of wheels and tires are you using? I hesitate to mention this because I realize
your bike is almost certainly well equipped, but you shouldn't be losing that much time
on a downhill, all other factors being equal.
 

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No Crybabies
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black art

There is a bit of black art, as well as science, to descending.

I assume you don't mean cornering fast, but just going fast downhill in a straight line? The cornering thing is a whole different topic.

Even at 155 pounds, I beat everyone downhill. It's about the only gift I have ever had. I can't climb with the leaders, so I know I must descend fast. This was true even back in college when I was 135 pounds. On longer rides, when several solos are pacing behind a tandem, at the end of a long descent, I'll be the only on remaining with the tandem. Not sure I really know why, actually.

It seems natural, but here is what I think is involved. First, my handlebars are very low. No spacers, level stem. Second, I keep my knees up against the top tube, feet level. Third, while coasting, I keep my butt back off the seat, and my abdomen is on top of the saddle, not resting on it, but sort of floating over it. Forth, keep arms in, head low. Holding this position for long descents is not easy, and after the first few times, your neck will likely ache for a while. If you are drafting, or there are corners, keep your hands in the drops so you can brake; if you are solo, you may try hands on the top tube, but narrow against the stem, with both elbows together. When you really get used to this, and it's safe, you can then rest your chin or cheek on top of the back of your hand. Makes you pretty fast.

Also, helps to wear tight clothing, and zip up that jersey when you crest the hill.

Aero wheels help, too. Low spoke count, deeper rims are certainly faster on descents.

Think about pedaling to catch up or keep up, too. Learn to spin fast.

Drafting at 50 mph can be a bit spooky at first, but if you are around guys you can trust, you'll learn to do it and stay with them. You don't need to draft quite as closely as on the flats, but close enough to take advantage of the hole they punch in the air. If you need to, either very lightly touch the brakes to maintain position, or pedal a bit. Stay smooth and don't swerve. Know what's going on around you, too.

Here is an example of fast descending: http://www.midcalracing.com/downhill/downhill_bike.htm -- even if not very practical ;-)
 

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I was at the TDF last year, and rode the Col De L'iseran on a rest day. the col is just above Val D'Isere. I had climbed up and during the descent the pro teams were scouting teh climb for the next day's race. at the bottom of the climb as you back into town, it is downhill but straight as an arrow for a couple miles. I had stopped at the last switchback to watch some pro's ascend. coming down was Astana. they pass me so I figure "wouldn't it be cool to descend the straight section with them". i'm not an idiot, so I gave them minimum of 25meters, before I started down. I figured its straight and downhill, I can keep up with them. I was 187lbs riding a carbon Brouchard. they dusted me like I was on a beach cruiser and we were all *coasting*, and not even racing. I tried to tuck like them, etc. I simply could not keep up coasting. granted they had 50mm arrows rims(zipp404, etc) +tubuluars. I had normal rims and normal tires. i think this made a diff, plus their superior riding position(even when non-chalantly coasting). it was pretty amazing
 

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You wrote:
I am 5'6" at 140#. My technical skills are great so is it my small size causing me to descend so slowly.

Sorry, not being a smart-ass here, but you aren't right in saying your "technical skills are great" if you get dusted like you're saying when going downhill. You need work on your descending skills.

Wish I had your problem rather than my problem: Climbing-- I lag, climbing at 165lbs/6'1" and there isn't much I haven't tried to improve on the climbs. So, I've worked really hard, on my bike handling skills, to become faster descending, but it still doesn't equate to being fast climbing when a race is mountainous..

If you want to see, borrow some full water bottles and go climb then descend a mountain with about 10 extra ones in your jersey. Ugg! You will certainly be slower going up.

Don Hanson
 

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Last summer. On the same hill.. I hit 49.5 mph which is my personal best.. my friend who is much smaller than I hit 50.1 mph. Him being smaller and weighing much less certainly didn't hurt him. Of course our cycling computers are perfectly accurate too. haha. Close enough right?
 

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speedy

Man if that was only my problem. Getting up is always my achilles heel.
Things I really like on descent; pinching the top tube with your knees. It buffers a lot of the road vibrations and keeps the bike stable. hands right on top of the bar with thumbs next to the stem. Arms out in the wind cause mucho drag, tuck those elbows under you. Chest on top of your hands with your head over your front wheel. Shut your mouth and keep your jersey zipped up. Deep dish wheels really seem to make a big difference going down.
The position is not that comfortable, but it will make a difference.
I forget all my old physics but I certainly remember as a boy scout part of making your balsa wood race car go faster was to add weight. The drag coeffecients for bigger riders are generally not that much greater than for smaller considering the differences in power and mass. One reason bigger riders generally can go faster into the wind and often excel at time trialing. That being said the more experienced and bolder racer will generally win the day.
 

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mprevost said:
Then they will pass you on the way up! Just tuck in close behind a wheel and ride the draft down. No reason you should lose any places if you are positioned right.
Not the best advise, Drafting will get you disqualified!

Work on your tuck, Weight is part of it, but also check that your bike setup isn't causing you to loose speed too. Bearings in good shape, repacked recently, too tight, etc.
 

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Lower weight works against you on descents, the lower drag won't overcome your lower weight. If you are really bored or interested do some searching on the physics of cycling (or downhill skiing) for more insight.

If you are doing easy/straight descents you need to tuck and draft, stay out of the wind as much as possible. I am small, 125 lbs, and always look to tuck onto a wheel in these situations.

On winding/twisty descents your cornering skills will make or break you. If others are passing you or coming out of corners with more speed you need to work on these aspects. There is some good info on the internet, sorry I can't remember the links and too lazy to look them up.
 
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