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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently started road biking again (been mostly MTB for the last 15 yrs). Yesterday I started up Berthoud Pass just out side of Winter Park, Co. and after a few switchbacks up I decided to head down.

FAST FAST FAST... well it felt that way.. I was doing about 32mph and was somewhat nervous. The grade was about 7% and there was traffic with a sandy shoulder (not suitable for riding on) so I was on the traffic side of the white line.

questions, is 32mph fast (felt fast, but I hear stories of folks doing 50!!!) also, I began to really "ride my brakes"... can this cause the brake to fail?

and not to add on to another recent thread... how do you turn around to look at traffic coming? Everytime I attempted to look behind me the front end wobbled and swayed...

felt great after I came off the pass, I was cruising around 22 mph and not having to pedal much to maintain that rate.

How fast do you ride on the flats? How fast do you decend? why am I more scared on my new Giant OCR C3 then my purdy Titus Motolite that I can easily hit 30mph on sweet Colorado singletrack?

I am guessing it is because I'm a wimp... but maybe you could provide better insight and tips that are less damaging to my sensitive ego......
 

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Adorable Furry Hombre
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Some bikes love to fly fast and will be stable all the way. My 'olde faithful '04 Talon has felt stable all the way up to ~50mph (fastest I've recorded in a downhill.), granted it isn't the most manueverable steed slow-but it loves to go fast.

Safety is of course the problem--flying down hills, you need to know the road, because there's no time to react between seeing a pothole and hitting it. Also, once you get going fast enough-cars stop passing you anyway :)
 

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I'm a fairly cautious descender...

...which is kind of ironic, because my winter sport is Masters Alpine ski racing. My best ski racing event is downhill, and I've been clocked at 74 mph. When you fall on snow, it ain't fun, but at least it's snow, and you're wearing some clothes. Think about how much it hurts to take a trip to McDonald's on asphalt at say, only 10 mph, with all of about two microns of spandex between you and the road. Not a pretty thought, is it? So I generally keep the volume down on descents, where it's not so much the absolute speed as the speed vs. the surface (smooth, potholes, sandy, etc.) vs. the road (windy, straight) vs. the traffic (lots/none) vs. the bailout options (none, nice wide shoulder)...you get the picture. If you don't have a good feeling that you have options if things get hairy, then slow down before they do get hairy...
 

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I feel waaay more confident and safe doing 47mph (my highest so far) on my MTB than I do at 40 on my road bike. More relaxed handling and big fat tires to smooth out bumps.

Funny thing is, that I get nervous donwhilling the road bike sometimes at 35 mph but I can sprint that fast without feeling nervous at all.
 

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Decending Fast

Lots of us brag about how fast we go down hills but almost every year in Colorado someone is badly injured or killed doing this improperly. Decending mountain passes safely and with speed takes training and experience.

If I were you, I'd start by getting a rearview mirror. Then ride the less crowded passes like Squaw, or one of my favorites Ute, first. You should also search this web site for threads on decending but avoid the "How Fast Have You Been On Your Bike" threads because speed is not important. Getting down to ride another day is!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
What about brakes?
I remember in the late 70's and 80's seeing road signs on passes that read "Hot Brakes Fail"

This was due to brakes heating up and forming a melted liquid goo between the brake pads and the rotors. Does this happen on Road bikes... because if so, i may have gotton lucky yesterday because I was all over my brakes......
 

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Shirtcocker
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WP Local said:
questions, is 32mph fast (felt fast, but I hear stories of folks doing 50!!!) also, I began to really "ride my brakes"... can this cause the brake to fail?
No...I can get over 30 on flat ground. Never go faster than you're comfortable though. Anytime you tense up bad things can happen.
 

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Shirtcocker
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WP Local said:
What about brakes?
I remember in the late 70's and 80's seeing road signs on passes that read "Hot Brakes Fail"

This was due to brakes heating up and forming a melted liquid goo between the brake pads and the rotors. Does this happen on Road bikes... because if so, i may have gotton lucky yesterday because I was all over my brakes......
pump your brakes..never ride them. this lets the rims cool.
 

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WP Local said:
I recently started road biking again (been mostly MTB for the last 15 yrs). Yesterday I started up Berthoud Pass just out side of Winter Park, Co. and after a few switchbacks up I decided to head down.

FAST FAST FAST... well it felt that way.. I was doing about 32mph and was somewhat nervous. The grade was about 7% and there was traffic with a sandy shoulder (not suitable for riding on) so I was on the traffic side of the white line.

questions, is 32mph fast (felt fast, but I hear stories of folks doing 50!!!) also, I began to really "ride my brakes"... can this cause the brake to fail?

and not to add on to another recent thread... how do you turn around to look at traffic coming? Every time I attempted to look behind me the front end wobbled and swayed...

felt great after I came off the pass, I was cruising around 22 mph and not having to pedal much to maintain that rate.

How fast do you ride on the flats? How fast do you descend? why am I more scared on my new Giant OCR C3 then my purdy Titus Motolite that I can easily hit 30mph on sweet Colorado singletrack?

I am guessing it is because I'm a wimp... but maybe you could provide better insight and tips that are less damaging to my sensitive ego......

Fast is relative to the rider...what's fast for one is slow for another.

You felt 32 mph was fast on a downhill. In our Team Time Trial we were hitting 33.5 mph down the finishing straight on a flat (averaged 27.55 mph for 27.3 miles)...so our average on a flat was near what you would consider fast on a downhill.

On downhills it's not uncommon for me to hit 50 mph and have hit nearly 60 mph before. On downhills anything slower than 40 mph doesn't feel fast for me and it really only starts to "feel" fast above 45 mph.

As for the safety aspect....anything crash over 10 mph or so is going to hurt (unless it's on grass and even then....). So going beyond that you are risking at a minimum some serious road rash.

So basically....go as fast as you feel comfortable. When you tense up bikes tend to get squirrelly, so the more relaxed you are the more stable the ride will likely be. Also remember, the faster you go the more gyroscopic action your wheels create and the more likely they are going to want to stay upright...so speed many times breeds stability....just something to think about.
 

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Depends

on the rider's skill and confidence, and the conditions (road surface, turns, traffic, etc.). I've been over 50 once or twice, and commonly get to over 45. But there are roads where I'll try to keep it below 40. I only let it really roll where I know the road conditions are good. It also helps that I do my own maintenance. I know my wheels and tires (especially the front) are in good shape, and I know the whole front end of the bike is behaving right.

The professional riders who are the best descenders (guys like Paolo "Il Falco" Savoldelli) have been clocked at 70 mph in races.

As for riding the brakes, the danger on very long hills is not of the brakes failing, but overheating the rims and causing the tire to blow off from the increased pressure. I have only heard of that happening on tandems, but it could theoretically happen on a normal bike, though it would take a very long hill indeed.

Second the mirror advice. I like these guys:

https://www.chicagolandbicycle.com/cycle_rearview_mirror.htm
 

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Spicy Dumpling
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I regularly hit 40, even on small hills here in Va, and I've hit 50 many times. If you need to modulate your speed and brake constantly without really getting on the brakes hard you can alternate between front and rear to keep them from overheating. Of course heavy braking on the front only can have consequences!
 

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Well here in northern california there are all kinds of hills that im not used to riding in because im from Las Vegas. I had to get a feel for the speed, hills, and curves that were previously foreign to me.

A couple of bits of advice I can lend are this:
First NEVER look where you don't want to go, because you will go there. If you are coming around a tight turn just look through the turn, not the scary cliff you think you might go off of.

Second learn how to lean and get comfortable in how far you can lean your bike. You would be surprised how well those skinny tires hold in a savage lean.

Third if you absolutely have to stop(or even slow down) in the middle of a turn make sure your bike is as upright as possible or else you will lay it down.

Those were just some things I learned recently. You may already know them and they may seem obvious but just a couple quick tips none the less.


http://cyclinginfo.co.uk/blog/cycling/10-tips-for-fast-cornering-on-a-bike/
http://cuttersja.blogspot.com/2006/08/bicycle-descending-skills-cutters-tips.html

A couple pages with more help than I could offer in a couple lines. Good luck and enjoy the hills in CO.
 

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On a curvy road with a poor surface, cross winds and side roads, even 25 can feel too fast. On a straight, clean, smooth surface without side roads, animals or wind, 55 can feel quite comfortable.

Don't ride your brakes. I have no ideal how much braking it takes to cause a tire to fail, and I don't really want to personally find out. However, somebody recently suggested to me that this might be a good thing for MythBusters to check into.
 

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Per what some other people have said...

WP Local said:
55;
Thanks that is great advice, but how fast do you go? Also where do you Race?
...it depends. For example, I rode in Elephant Rock two weekends ago, a ride that is all up and down. On a couple of the steep shots, there were dudes winging by me at 40 plus, and I kept it to around 22. At the end of the ride, coming off the last steep shot, it went into a series of rollers where there was plenty of space fore, aft, and sideways, and more important, the terrain wasn't trying to accelerate you beyond what felt comfortable. Here I was pedaling some/cruising along at around 35. If I'd have crashed at that point, I'm sure it would have hurt like hell. I just felt more in control in that terrain at 35 than I would have at, say, 30, up in the steep sections.

Where do I race...skiing you mean? With Rocky Mountain Masters, all over Colorado, including at WP. I've also raced in the Masters Nationals and Internationals, without distinction...but it was always a great experience. In 2001, I raced in the Masters Internationals at Park City, UT, site of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. We got to race GS on the same hill used for the Men's GS in the Olympics (CB's Run), and raced against and partied with over 300 of the best Chronologically Challenged Ski Racers in the world. And for an account of that, and other racing adventures, see the following:


http://www.rmmskiracing.org/articles/RMalm-2001-10-DayJob.pdf
 

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I'm from the Houston flat lands, so the only time I get to descend is on a trip. The hardest part for me is getting in the drops and keeping my head up to see where I am going. The next hardest thing is when and how much to brake at a turn. I have a colnago and custom steel frame, both of which love to descend. I sometimes will get above 40 mph, but only on really straight parts of the road, which are fairly uncommon in the mountains.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Great advice thank you!
BikeLV702, I printed those articles, great info.

but no more about this crashing business and "what speed hurts most".

Just recently I clipped in to test ride the bike before buying and when I stopped couldn't clip out and fell over on my side in the bike shop parking lot. Nothing hurt as bad as my ego (well my hip didn't exactly tickle)
 

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Good advice above;

I would urge you to distinguish between "Racing" and "just riding along (JRA)"

JRA there's few reasons to really push the limits. I always ask myself, if something nasty appeared suddenly from around a bend or blind spot, could I react in time? That keeps my speed down on the twisty stuff.

On the straight downhills you can let 'er rip more. The bike stability will come with practice as you learn that a little bouncing around is to be expected and you can absorb it properly.
 

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Like Creeky said, if I’m JRA I like to keep it 30 or under on most downhill’s for the sole purpose of self preservation. If you go off the road here in AZ you can find yourself smashing into a 1000lb boulder or wrapped around a 2000lb saguaro cactus that has 4” long needles.
 
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