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This summer I (unfortunately) plan on climbing mountains in the Rockies. I'm scared of having to climb them, but also of coming down.

I've reached the point of my life where the stupid gene seems to have gone away, so I'm not about just going for it. I don't want to ride the brakes, since that will kill them.

There must be some secrets! Please share them!

David.
 

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Have a nice day
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I don't have experience with HUGE hills yet either, but I've come down a few medium hills this spring and one thing I did was to keep myself as non-aero as possible from the beginning of the descent. Sit up, splay out the elbows, etc. Maybe unzip the jersey a bit to get some parachute effect? Your pits probably need airing out after the big climb anyway. :idea:
 

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ok so here are my descending tips

keep your weight on your pedals. keep your pedals flat and drop your heels to really sit down on them. don't lean forward or sit back too much keep your self centered you'll have way more control and stability

if you want to lose speed sit up.

DO NOT
lock your brakes up, clip your pedals during a turn. grip your bars with a death grip.
 

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I regularly descend super steep twisty backroads with bad pavement-that's what the road I live on is like. I've been riding big climbs and going fast on the descents for 20 years. Here's how to ride descents:

1. Keep loose on the bike! Elbows bent. Pedals level on straights. Stand just a bit so your butt 'hovers' off the saddle. This way when you hit a bump at 40 mph it doesn't bounce you off line. It also makes front end 'shimmy' (a tank-slapper in motorcycle terms) less likely. If the pavement is smooth you don't have to hover. Be ready to clamp the top tube with your knees if the front end starts shimmying. If you ride loose it probably won't happen.

2. Brake infrequently but hard. Don't drag your brakes the whole way down! That burns them up. Brake when you need to for a corner or a sketchy bit of pavement, then get off the brakes to let them cool. Studies show that riding at 20 mph down hill puts the maximum amount of heat into the rim. Going faster (assuming the road allows) lets the rim cool more.

3. Look far enough ahead to plan your line. The faster you go the farther ahead you need to plan.

4. If you go into a turn too fast, just lean more. Your bike can corner a lot harder than you think it can. Locking up the brakes and going straight is probably going to get you badly hurt. I've had teamates hit oncoming cars or guardrails when they went in too hot, panicked and stood the bike up. Nothing sucks more than the 'whump' of your teamate behind you impacting a car. (he was ok, just bloody)

5. Proper cornering form is weight on the outside foot, elbows bent, upper body loose.

6. On long non-technical descents, sit up to be less aero and slow down (assuming that you want go slower).

7. Did I mention keeping the elbows loose? If your elbows are locked you go straight. I stil have to remind myself to bend my elbows and relax, so you probably do too.

Relax and enjoy the downhills!
 

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iherald said:
This summer I (unfortunately) plan on climbing mountains in the Rockies. I'm scared of having to climb them, but also of coming down.

I've reached the point of my life where the stupid gene seems to have gone away, so I'm not about just going for it. I don't want to ride the brakes, since that will kill them.

There must be some secrets! Please share them!

David.
Are you riding alone, or with someone else? If you are riding with someone else who is a more experienced descender, try to follow his/her line. One caveat: If the person you are following is going too fast for your comfort level or ability, do not try to keep up. My most significant crash occurred when I was descending at 44.5 mph on a wet road and trying to keep up with a group that was ahead of me. If I were not trying to catch up, I probably would have been going a little slower.

Will you be able to scout the descents in advance? It always is easier to descend on a road if you have some knowledge of it. If a road has a good surface and nothing on it like gravel, I wil be more agressive than if I am on a road that I do not know or one that has bad conditions. For example, a few months ago, I did a climb on a road in California where there had been mudslides during the winter. When I descended, I was a lot more cautious at the points where I knew that the remains of the mudslides still were on the road.

Practice, practice, practice. If you like in a flat part of the country, this advice will not work. But, even if you don't have mountains in your backyard, if you have any significant hills nearby, practice your descending. Like most things in life, you will get better and more confident with experience.

Don't panic. Maybe I am too sanguine after my having survived my wipeout at 44.5 mph with nothing more serious than a broken shoulder and massive road rash, but even if you crash, you probably will live to ride another day.
 

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A lot of the long downhills in the Rockies don't have steep curves. Others will have hairpin turns.

For the straighter descents, just relax and enjoy the breeze. Keep pedaling slowly so that your legs don't stiffen up.

If the downhill has lots of sharp curves, also relax. Bike brakes work well and are able to slow you down in plenty of time.

Have fun on the trip.
 

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Terminal velocity really isn't that fast. On a very steep mountain descent I used to do, I think I'd hit 45-50 mph if I were in a really good tuck. If I sat up, terminal velocity was much slower. You know, I actually felt safer on that road during fast descents. I was going the speed of traffic, so I felt free to take up the entire lane, prohibiting cars from passing me at inopportune or dangerous times.

In the end, though, it's all about fear, and if you're panicky while descending you're more likely to crash, not less. Loosen up. Hitting terminal velocity is a good thing - no matter how long the hill is, you'll never go faster than a certain speed. Maybe you're imagining going faster and faster and faster and faster and... crash. Not going to happen.
 

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iherald said:
This summer I (unfortunately) plan on climbing mountains in the Rockies. I'm scared of having to climb them, but also of coming down.

I've reached the point of my life where the stupid gene seems to have gone away, so I'm not about just going for it. I don't want to ride the brakes, since that will kill them.

There must be some secrets! Please share them!

David.
go that way really fast...if something gets in your way...turn...

--with apologies to Beter Off Dead.
 

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Burnum Upus Quadricepus
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And when it doesn't cause a safety issue, remember to take your feet off the pedals and say "Wheeeee!" Won't get you any style points--and will possibly get some strange looks--but you know, I'm pushing 50 and it's still fun every now and again.
 

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Just to add- I recommend using the entire lane- or at least much of it--- or at the very, least, don't feel like you need to hug the shoulder.

ericm979 said:
I regularly descend super steep twisty backroads with bad pavement-that's what the road I live on is like. I've been riding big climbs and going fast on the descents for 20 years. Here's how to ride descents:

1. Keep loose on the bike! Elbows bent. Pedals level on straights. Stand just a bit so your butt 'hovers' off the saddle. This way when you hit a bump at 40 mph it doesn't bounce you off line. It also makes front end 'shimmy' (a tank-slapper in motorcycle terms) less likely. If the pavement is smooth you don't have to hover. Be ready to clamp the top tube with your knees if the front end starts shimmying. If you ride loose it probably won't happen.

2. Brake infrequently but hard. Don't drag your brakes the whole way down! That burns them up. Brake when you need to for a corner or a sketchy bit of pavement, then get off the brakes to let them cool. Studies show that riding at 20 mph down hill puts the maximum amount of heat into the rim. Going faster (assuming the road allows) lets the rim cool more.

3. Look far enough ahead to plan your line. The faster you go the farther ahead you need to plan.

4. If you go into a turn too fast, just lean more. Your bike can corner a lot harder than you think it can. Locking up the brakes and going straight is probably going to get you badly hurt. I've had teamates hit oncoming cars or guardrails when they went in too hot, panicked and stood the bike up. Nothing sucks more than the 'whump' of your teamate behind you impacting a car. (he was ok, just bloody)

5. Proper cornering form is weight on the outside foot, elbows bent, upper body loose.

6. On long non-technical descents, sit up to be less aero and slow down (assuming that you want go slower).

7. Did I mention keeping the elbows loose? If your elbows are locked you go straight. I stil have to remind myself to bend my elbows and relax, so you probably do too.

Relax and enjoy the downhills!
 

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Also you will tend to go where you are looking and this is especially true when descending so make sure you are looking at where you want to go and not over the side of the road or at the cliff face on the other side of the road.
 

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Sitting up never slowed ME down much....

That's all good advice (says the world's most chicken downhiller, regularly passed by kids on BMX bikes), but I have to say that on a STEEP hill, sitting up is like waving a finger. It may keep you at 49mph instead of 53, but it never gets me down to a level where I'm comfortable. Braking hard but infrequently is probably sound advice, but it won't work on a couple of hills I ride semi-regularly, where you absolutely rocket to 48-50mph between corners that I, at least, can't take faster than 25. I brake a lot, and I don't let my speed build up on the straights to a point where I need a lot of slowdown to make a tricky turn. I'm way too old to be going into the trees.
I'm often the last "serious" rider down the hill, but so far I've always arrived at the bottom with the bike underneath me. I suspect you'll get used to the speed and the feel and do fine, but don't get cocky. On two occasions, once on a mountain bike and once on a road bike near Tahoe, I've seen guys go off and die because they were too macho to slow down. I mean DIE die.
 

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Lizzie will ride free
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Don't even think about the wear on your brake pads! A couple of rides through the rockies isn't going to wear down your pads. Go whatever speed you feel comfortable. If the cost is really an issue, skip a week's worth of starbucks. You should be thrilled about riding those sections.
 

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jplatzner said:
Don't even think about the wear on your brake pads! A couple of rides through the rockies isn't going to wear down your pads. Go whatever speed you feel comfortable. If the cost is really an issue, skip a week's worth of starbucks. You should be thrilled about riding those sections.
The worry isn't about the wear on the brake pads -- the worry is about how hot your rims are going to get. If you ride your brakes for mile after mile after mile, you will have some extremely hot rims. Not sure if the rims temperatures could cause a tire to pop off, but it probably doesn't help your braking ability either. Having nice cool rims certainly helps put your mind at ease that your wheels aren't going to do "something bad" at high speed.

The thing I remember while riding in the big mountains out west... A lot of the big passes are on major roads. If trucks can get down these roads and through the turns without flying off into the abyss, you can get a bike through them, no problems. I've come across some steep mountain roads that there is absolutely no way you can get a truck through and you're left wondering how this road was even built -- now those make me nervous.
 

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kfurrow said:
The worry isn't about the wear on the brake pads -- the worry is about how hot your rims are going to get. If you ride your brakes for mile after mile after mile, you will have some extremely hot rims. Not sure if the rims temperatures could cause a tire to pop off, but it probably doesn't help your braking ability either. Having nice cool rims certainly helps put your mind at ease that your wheels aren't going to do "something bad" at high speed.
Ya think? I'm hoping some others who live in big mountains can jump in on this one. I've never expereinced any real brake fade, but I also don't ride my brakes that much. Can a modern bike with good Kool Stops ever get so hot as to feel any fade? Heck, I've done all sorts of passes -- some even fully loaded -- and I've never felt anything but confidence. I mean a 700c wheel is a pretty big heat sink with all that air rushing over it.

Not saying it doesn't happen -- just that I've never felt it.

What say you mountain folk?
 

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I've never personally experienced what happens when you overheat your rims, and I don't want to. I've heard the stories, some painful and some fatal, and I don't want to be another one. As I descend the mountains, I am constantly aware of the risk, and I don't use my brakes any more than necessary to safely negotiate the road. I have no idea how close I am to the tipping point, but I hope I'm a long ways from it.
 
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