How Do I Manage Downhills

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by BobCochran, Aug 4, 2015.

  1. BobCochran

    BobCochran Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2015
    Messages:
    424
    Likes Received:
    119
    I think I must be doing my urban downhill traveling wrong. I huff and puff my way to the top of the hill. This is usually on a city street loaded with cars parallel parked, often on both sides of the street. Then at the top of the hill I attempt to shift into my highest gear (cassette cog with the fewest teeth and chainring with the most teeth) and I try to pedal downhill, but soon the bike is going so fast that the chain and gears have no "bite" on the road. I'm freewheeling, in other words.

    Trying to stop, as for a stop sign at the bottom of the hill, fills me with dread. Yes I can and do stop. But how do I control my speed so it is an easier stop -- e.g. I go more slowly down the hill?

    Am I supposed to just coast down the hill without pedaling? Or am I supposed to pedal down the hill?

    Advice, thoughts, suggestions all very welcome.

    Thanks a ton

    Bob
     
    Tags:


  2. Corzhens

    Corzhens Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2015
    Messages:
    1,287
    Likes Received:
    122
    I don't know if this is a good advice but I normally don't pedal downhill. I just let the bike glide along with the gravity while the bike is in low gear. And don't forget the brakes, your finger should be quick on the trigger. That has been my problem before when I first went to that place called Antipolo. It was a hard climb with the winding and steep road. I thought that going downhill is heaven but it's not because the danger is there and not in the climb.
     
    BobCochran likes this.
  3. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2005
    Messages:
    6,723
    Likes Received:
    126
    HMmmm ...

    Well, with the understanding that I'm a big fan of coasting-when-I-can, too ...

    If YOU are worried about stopping at the bottom of hills (are there Stop Signs or Stop Lights which you need to contend with at the bottom of the hills?), then you may simply want to gauge your top speed and limit it to whatever you feel you can comfortably bring to a stop when there isn't a long run out (i.e., FLAT section) ...

    As far as "going so fast that the chain and gears have no 'bite' on the road", (because I don't recall what type of bike you have or how it is geared ... if you mentioned it in the past) THAT begs the question "What gearing does your bike currently have?"

    For example, does your bike have:

    53t Chainring with a 12t Cog?

    48t Chainring with a 13t Cog?

    46t Chainring with an 11t Cog?

    Other?

    If your bike's crankset has a 53t chainring, then either replace the 12t-or-larger Cog with an 11t Cog OR install a larger (!?!) chainring ...

    If you're riding a MTB-or-Hybrid with a MTB crank, then either put a larger (e.g., 48t) chainring on the crank or put a Road crank on the bike ...

    IMO, if you're not riding on mountain-or-hilly-open-country roads then a 4:1 ratio is probably a high enough ratio for most people ... but, THAT's certainly a personal choice.
     
    BobCochran likes this.
  4. AtlantaSports

    AtlantaSports New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2015
    Messages:
    195
    Likes Received:
    2
    I agree with everything on this post. this is wise advice.
     
    BobCochran likes this.
  5. BobCochran

    BobCochran Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2015
    Messages:
    424
    Likes Received:
    119
    Thanks everyone. I'm riding a Giant FCR Alliance, bought new in 2009. It has caliper brakes.

    I can just coast downhill if I want, except on one street where there is a stop sign and a sometimes busy cross street. I am under the impression that I'm supposed to keep pedaling at a comfortable cadence. I have thought this means pedal all the time, uphill and downhill and on the flats, at a comfortable cadence. Except when stopped of course. Perhaps I'm mistaken.

    I ride almost daily now to and from my place of work. The chainring has "Shimano SG-X 10S 105" stamped on the drive (right pedal) side of the chainring. There are two chainrings. The smaller one has a reference to "34-S" stamped on the left side and I can see a reference to "50-" where whatever follows the hyphen is not visible to me. So the chainrings are both pinned and ramped and it is a 10 speed chainring? The larger one is 50 teeth and the smaller one 34 teeth? Yes, I checked on Bikepedia: Shimano R600 crankset, 34/50T.

    The rear cogs are 10 speed, 12-27 teeth.

    I'm probably going to move on and get a new bike once I've put a few thousand more miles on this one. Say another year. I want to learn how to manage different bits of terrain (such as downhills) sensibly. I want to bike, bike, bike as much as I can too.

    Thanks a ton

    Bob
     
  6. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2005
    Messages:
    11,945
    Likes Received:
    1,036
    "But how do I control my speed so it is an easier stop -- e.g. I go more slowly down the hill?"


    Sitting bolt-upright or standing on the pedals (ass up out of the saddle) to increase aero drag will slow you marginally. Grabbing a fist full of brake prior to absolutely needing it after scanning the road for what kind of bite your tires are going to have works for me.

    Under hard downhill braking keep you ass back on the saddle or kick off behind the saddle.



    "Am I supposed to just coast down the hill without pedaling? Or am I supposed to pedal down the hill?"

    Dealer's choice. Spin it out and then coast or just coast off or something in between. Whatever works.

    Safety first...forward vision, blind curves, gravel, cars coming across side streets. Downhill speed is temporary. Cracked bones predict the weather forever.
     
    BobCochran likes this.
  7. BobCochran

    BobCochran Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2015
    Messages:
    424
    Likes Received:
    119
    Thanks, CampyBob! You are correct, I know this from unpleasant experience. A few years ago, I dumped my (older, cheaper, now departed) bicycle while riding at speed on sidewalk -- the kind of sidewalk that needs resurfacing. I think my front tire got locked into a wide crack on the sidewalk and pow, the bike dumped and I went down like a ship being torpedoed. I broke my left thumb at one of the joints. The pain was stunning but I thought it wasn't broken at first and I didn't run to an orthopedic surgeon when I should have.

    So yes, the formerly broken thumb now predicts stuff for me. And constantly reminds me to improve my riding downhill.

    It seems like most Maryland localities have more roads than they have the budget to repair or resurface. So my downhills can bring me to some pretty bumpy street -- usually frost heaves and rubble left by snow plows ripping off some of the pavement along with the snow.

    Safety first, as you say.

    Bob
     
  8. Volnix

    Volnix Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2011
    Messages:
    2,883
    Likes Received:
    139
    50 t by 12 rear with more then 90rpm cadence is more then 50kmh...

    You ever thought why they don't go over 40kmh on the Tour De France that much anymore? ;)

    A guy told me to keep the rear brake constantly rubbing on the rim.

    Dont get me wrong, I like a dodgy decent as much as anybody but I also don't like these rotten milliseconds when you know that you are gonna crash and have no time to do anything about it. :D

    Those are some [email protected]' long milliseconds. :D

    Btw I had a similar accident with my right finger lately. Snapped backwards and I just put it back. Still swollen almost 3 weeks later. I did not bother to go to a doctor.

    What happened with yours???
     
Loading...
Loading...