Help: scared going down hills!

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by KatieS, Apr 8, 2007.

  1. KatieS

    KatieS New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2007
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    0
    Anyone got any advice with me? I've always been a bit of a scaredy-cat going down hills, but since I bought my new road bike (much lighter than anything I've ever had before), my fear has become a real problem.

    My nervousness is making my riding much more dangerous than it should be - yesterday I almost wiped out twice cos I jammed the brakes on too hard when I lost my nerve. I now go up hills quicker than I go down them!!

    Any helpful tips?
     
    Tags:


  2. KellyT

    KellyT New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2006
    Messages:
    219
    Likes Received:
    0
    Are you planning on racing? If you aren't going to race then being careful on descents isn't such a bad idea. Other than that it can only be confidence and more riding (usually) means more confidence. So just get out and ride as often as possible and try not to think about whether you are going fast or slow on the descent. At least you're out there enjoying it.

    I usually descend far too fast, and this year I have just realised that since I don't plan to race, there's really no good reason to take the risk of descending flat out.

    (Oh, and avoid watching footage of Jeoseba Beloki coming off in front of Armstrong in the Tour. That would make anyone scared to decend at all.)
     
  3. KatieS

    KatieS New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2007
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks KellyT. I'm not planning to race but I'm taking part in a London to Paris ride this summer and I don't want to get left behind!! I just want to be comfortable on the hills without going mad!

    lol - yeah I've seen that!
     
  4. sogood

    sogood New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2006
    Messages:
    2,148
    Likes Received:
    0
    I agree, there's no value in having a wipe out and having to stay off the bike for weeks.

    I think this is no different to driving and there are a few factors involved,

    - Familiarity with your equipment.
    - Familiarity with the road.
    - Confidence in oncoming traffic condition.
    - Suitability to the weather/road surface condition.

    Ride the same downhill route more and gradually you'll get a feel for all of the above. Pushing for speed on a downhill that you are unfamiliar with will just send you off to the other side of the hairpin curve and destroy both you and your precious bike.

    But on a more positive note, you probably should review your descent technique both in terms of posture, weighing, steering, line, use of brake etc. A useful technique is to try to follow a good descender and follow his/her line and pace.
     
  5. Ergoman

    Ergoman New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2007
    Messages:
    127
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yes. Ride your bike a lot. Don't go down a hill any faster than you want to. As you gain experience your speed will improve. Don't ever push it so hard that you scare yourself.
     
  6. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2005
    Messages:
    4,687
    Likes Received:
    4
    Start on a moderate hill with easy bends and a good road surface and practice until the fear of simply going fast goes away. Then find a slightly bigger or more curvy hill to practice on.

    The road bike will descend faster, but will also carve the corners better and be more stable than whatever else you've been riding. You need to develop a level of trust in your equipment and abilities that comes with familiarity. Trust that the tires will typically hold far beyond what your nerves will take.

    Always do your braking while the bike is still going in a straight line. Drag your brakes down the straights if you need to limit speed, but release them before attempting to turn the corners.
     
  7. vadiver

    vadiver New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2006
    Messages:
    313
    Likes Received:
    0
    Practice.

    Practice on uphill corners, flats, slight decents etc. Working to steeper and steeper decents. Practice in a parking lot.

    Learn to see the line through a corner. This can be done in any vehicle.

    Get your speed down to the speed you think is safest to go through the corner before you get there. That means as frenchyge says brake early.

    As you get comfrotable you will relax more. But never go faster than you are capable of.

    Practice.
     
  8. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2006
    Messages:
    3,857
    Likes Received:
    97
    +1 on this advice. Work your way into it at your own pace to avoid developing any longterm fears.

    From a technique standpoint slide your weight to the back of your saddle for straight descents while riding with your hands on either the brake hoods or in the drops.
    Riding up on the brake hoods places you a bit higher and lets you use air resistance to slow down a bit. Keep hour elbows bent and arms as relaxed as possible, this helps dampen any shimmy on rough roads and if you do have a problem like a front flat it allows you to stay in control. I've had a number of front flats on very fast descents over the years, it aint no fun but it's never resulted in a crash just some jumpy nerves on my part. The key is to stay relaxed.

    If the descent is twisty I rise out of the saddle a bit and put all my weight on the outside pedal with that pedal at the bottom of the stroke. Clipless pedals are worth their weight in gold here. I stand on that pedal and think of it as making a parallel turn on skis. There are other good techniques for real fast twisty descending but if you take the good advice given above and only descend at your own comfort level you shouldn't need countersteering and angulation yet. Try to do all your speed control braking on the straightaways before you enter the turns. If you absolutely must brake in the turns then make it a continuation of the straightaway braking and lighten your grip on the brakes as you go around the corner. It's best not to touch the brakes during turns at all but you definitely don't want to go into the turn too fast and then grab the brakes hard halfway around.

    Good luck and give it time, it'll feel easier as you add up the miles,
    -Dave
     
  9. KatieS

    KatieS New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2007
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for all the replies. I'm doing a ride tomorrow that is quite hilly, so I shall try out some of your advice then! Will let you know how I get on!
     
  10. daveornee

    daveornee New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2003
    Messages:
    2,763
    Likes Received:
    0
    I agree with Dave.
    + Check your wheel hubs for proper adjustment = no slop in the bearings when the QR skewers are tight.
    + Check your headset for proper adjustment = no slop in the bearings.
    + make sure your wheels are true and that spoke tensions are correct.
    + make sure your tires are true and round... and reasonably well balanced.... (no broken belts or beads).

    Sometimes newer bicycles give a significantly different feel because they are more flexible and position the rider differently.
     
  11. KellyT

    KellyT New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2006
    Messages:
    219
    Likes Received:
    0
    Have you done any other cyclo sportives? Maybe doing a few shorter sportives first would help you to guage how you are going to be on pace downhill?
     
  12. mikesbytes

    mikesbytes New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Messages:
    1,717
    Likes Received:
    2
    The others have given you some good advice.

    If you can start out by practicing on the same hill, as you become more and more familar with the hill, your confidence will improve. When you think you have mastered that hill, go find a new hill to practice on.

    Why do you think you lack confidence on down hills ?
     
  13. Felt_Rider

    Felt_Rider Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2004
    Messages:
    3,257
    Likes Received:
    27
    The quality of tire also helped my confidence.
    I had a bad crash when I started riding and it was on a pair of slick Hutchinson tires.
    Those same tires came stock on my purchase last summer and I have yet to swap to something like Michelins Pro2's. When I have that wheelset on my bike I get real nervous on fast descents and ride with caution.

    (Note to self: get rid of those Hutchinsons :))
     
  14. Alex Simmons

    Alex Simmons Member

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2006
    Messages:
    2,471
    Likes Received:
    20
    As Dave said - put outside pedal down when cornering, don't have the feet level on each side. You need to be able to put some weight onto the outside pedal.

    Look up and ahead to where you want to go as that's where you'll end up. Keep moving your line of vision ahead to the point on the road that you want to eventually ride over, that might be 30, 40 or more metres ahead (much longer if going fast). If you look to the side of the road, or at a tree or a rock, that's where you will end up going!!

    Also (and I know Dave said riding on the brake hoods was OK, which in general it is) but I consider riding in the drops the safest option, especially as you build up speed and/or the surface is less than perfect. Hands are less likely to slip when in the drops and brake control is best there - both for maximal leverage but also for feather like control.

    However, some riders, esp women find it difficult to:

    a. ride comfortably in the drops (i.e. the bike doesn't fit properly and quite possibly doesn't handle as well as a result)

    b. reach the brake levers easily from the drops, esp if your hands are small (in which case some adjustment might be required so the levers are within reach or a different shape handlebar might help)

    Keep at it, decending well is one of the great pleasures of cycling. The suggestion to find a good rider to follow down a hill is good one.
     
  15. KatieS

    KatieS New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2007
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    0
    Well I've never been great on hills, but since I got my new bike, I seem to have got a lot worse. I think it's probably a combination of factors on top of that; I'm back riding after a two year break following a bout of pleurisy and the only cycling I've done in the interim has mainly been with my daughter (9), so I think I've got used to the slower pace. Added to this, the roads round my way are in a shocking state at the moment (massive potholes) and I've already had a couple of scary moments:eek:

    I just seem unable to relax and enjoy the ride - it's white knuckles and tense shoulders all the way down! The only time I get any speed up is going up the hills - can blow most of my friends away going up!

    Thanks for the advice - I will certainly keep trying!
     
  16. KatieS

    KatieS New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2007
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    0
    Well, I did a ride to Brighton yesterday (about 35 miles and lots of windy, hilly roads). I made it, but really worried by my loss of nerve - I was even getting jumpy on the nice straight and flat bits that I usually love! Situation not helped by some b****ard taking his wing mirror off on my elbow! I think it was probably a tough route to choose given my problem - it's either steep uphill or downhill for a good part of the way.

    I was starting to feel a bit better towards the end of the journey, so I do think I just need to relax and stop worrying about pace and just concentrate on enjoying the great outdoors for a bit! Trouble is, knowing it and doing it are two different things...

    Thanks for all the great advice though - I really tried to keep it all in mind
     
  17. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2006
    Messages:
    3,857
    Likes Received:
    97
    Keep it up and maybe chose some quieter roads and it should get better. Any chance of finding a friendly bike club in the area? I'd call shops and ask about bike handling clinics and fun(not competitive or high end) group rides. I used to do a lot of work with my club/team which included bike handling clinics. We'd go to big empty parking lots and help folks get used to cornering, descending, jumping obstacles, bumping elbows, riding close in groups, etc. We got a lot of really positive feedback over the years and folks really appreciated learning in a safe and structured way. See if you can find some folks like that to get out and learn from it'll save a lot of trial and error.

    -Dave
     
  18. KatieS

    KatieS New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2007
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    0
    That's a good idea - the two local clubs to me are at both ends of the spectrum and I've never seen any mention of anything like this, but I will definitely ask.
     
  19. Archibald

    Archibald New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2006
    Messages:
    221
    Likes Received:
    1
    "I had a bad crash when I started riding "
    this was did it for me. came round a corner and went for a nice slide across the road into oncoming traffic. i'll never forget the look on the face of the truck driver that managed to stop his truck just before i went under it.
    trusting my tyres regardless of their make is probably closer to my issue.
    going straight is fine, but any curvature in the road...
     
  20. strummer_fan

    strummer_fan New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2004
    Messages:
    239
    Likes Received:
    0
    The advice everyone posts here is excellent... It's really a matter of becoming comfortable on the bike, through time. When I first started riding a road bike again, I found that I was scared at even 30 kph downhill speeds. The more time I spent riding, the more comfortable I got on the bike, I just started riding faster and faster and being comfortable without noticing it. Just spend time on your bike, riding confidently, and it will come to you... My fastest descents of late have been in the 75 kph range.

    I'll see you on the L2P ride as well! Day 1 definitely looks like a day with many downhills to practice on...
    Cheers!
     
Loading...
Loading...