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  1. #1
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    Fear Of Going Downhill

    I am fairly new to road biking. For some reason I am deathly afraid of riding down hills. I get up to about 18 mph and I start squeezing my brakes to slow down. I'll do this the whole way down the hill. When I am on flat spots or going up hill I can pedal much faster than 18 mph and I have no problem. It's just flying down hill that freaks me out. I have a bike that fits me well and I feel very comfortable on it. I have the same problem when I mountain bike. Does anyone have any suggestions for me? Thanks.

  2. #2
    GIMME MY BIKE!
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    It's just something you have to let go of. I have a teammate that's very timid on the downhills. If you know someone that is not, ask them to go down a few hills with you. It might help if you ride behind them, try to keep up, and watch how they do it. It sounds really stupid, but try screaming "Wheeeeee!" when you descend. Make it fun like it used to be when you were a kid!

    Mostly though, you just have to have some balls and just do it. ;)

    Honestly, hills don't even start to get scary (I mean, fun!) until you pass 40 mph, in my opinion.

  3. #3
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    Good Point

    Quote Originally Posted by bobg
    I am fairly new to road biking. For some reason I am deathly afraid of riding down hills. I get up to about 18 mph and I start squeezing my brakes to slow down. I'll do this the whole way down the hill. When I am on flat spots or going up hill I can pedal much faster than 18 mph and I have no problem. It's just flying down hill that freaks me out. I have a bike that fits me well and I feel very comfortable on it. I have the same problem when I mountain bike. Does anyone have any suggestions for me? Thanks.
    This guy has a real good point. I have the same problem, but it all stems from when I hit about 40 mph downhill. The handlebars started to shimmy quite a bit and the only thought in my mind was what it would feel like jumping out of my car at 40.

    Does anyone have any recommendations on how to avoid this "wobble" effect on the handlebars? Or just any advice on how to gain confidence descending?

  4. #4
    use the crosswind
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    As with anything else, the way to get better is to practice. Also, try to relax. Here is a link with a lot of helpful information.

    http://www.roble.net/marquis/descending
    Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative.
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  5. #5
    GIMME MY BIKE!
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    Press your knee(s) against the top tube.

    It should dampen the shimmy for ya.

    I've never personally experienced a downhill shimmy, but I've been told that'll do it.

  6. #6
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    Don't sweat it

    Quote Originally Posted by bobg
    I am fairly new to road biking. For some reason I am deathly afraid of riding down hills. I get up to about 18 mph and I start squeezing my brakes to slow down. I'll do this the whole way down the hill. When I am on flat spots or going up hill I can pedal much faster than 18 mph and I have no problem. It's just flying down hill that freaks me out. I have a bike that fits me well and I feel very comfortable on it. I have the same problem when I mountain bike. Does anyone have any suggestions for me? Thanks.
    As you ride more and more, you will gain confidence and begin braking on the downhills less, going incrementally faster and faster until you're comfortable and confident in the 40's (maybe faster, but a little braking past 40MPH is nothing to worry about regardless of experience).

    I wouldn't let this worry you too much and certainly don't let it keep you off the bike. My only recommendation is don't plan your routes to avoid hills, take them as they come, brake as you judge nessasary and let time take care of the rest.

    Scot
    Scot Gore, Minneapolis

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by vonteity
    It should dampen the shimmy for ya.

    I've never personally experienced a downhill shimmy, but I've been told that'll do it.
    thanks. i see how that could work.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Long Live Long Rides
    This guy has a real good point. I have the same problem, but it all stems from when I hit about 40 mph downhill. The handlebars started to shimmy quite a bit and the only thought in my mind was what it would feel like jumping out of my car at 40.

    Does anyone have any recommendations on how to avoid this "wobble" effect on the handlebars? Or just any advice on how to gain confidence descending?
    If you are getting a shimmy at 40 mph something is in need of tuning. Are your wheels out of alignment? Out of dish? Bearings too loose? Is your head set loose? Check them all. Alignment is easy - spin the wheels and check for right/left movement referencing the brake pads. Check dish by spinning the wheels and referencing the brake frame mount. Your wheel should track the center, not to the side. Check your bearings by grasping the rim/tire and giving a wiggle - there should be very, very little play. Check headset by stradling your bike and clamping the frame between your legs then pull and push the handlebars-there should be no play.

    I've piloted a road bike down winding hills in excess of 70 mph. What a rush! I've since moved coastal and the fastest I can get the bike to go is mid 50's down high rise bridges. Not bad, but easily controlable.
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  9. #9
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    Just do it

    Don't coast.... keep pedaling and going up the gears until you get into your biggest gear. If you keep spinning, you should be able to get up to 35-40 mph.
    After all, what's the worst thing that can happen ?........
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Long Live Long Rides
    This guy has a real good point. I have the same problem, but it all stems from when I hit about 40 mph downhill. The handlebars started to shimmy quite a bit and the only thought in my mind was what it would feel like jumping out of my car at 40.

    Does anyone have any recommendations on how to avoid this "wobble" effect on the handlebars? Or just any advice on how to gain confidence descending?
    My theory is that shimmy is rider induced- that being tense loads the BB and tightly grabbing the bars- that the rider actually starts shaking the bike. I simply cannot believe there is some weird resonant frequency that causes this. The reason the the knee on the TT works is that it unloads some of the weight on the pedals. There is no way holding your knee could actually stop the tube from "oscilating."

    Try pedaling while you descend. By pedaling, you will also be unweighting the BB, which reduces shimmy.

    Terminal velocity on a bicycle isn't that fast if you aren't coming down a mountain in an aero tuck. Psychologically, it might feel like you are going faster and faster and faster- but in reality, it doesn't take long before accelerating stops, or you run out of hill.

  11. #11
    BrooklynVelo
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    Quote Originally Posted by vonteity
    Honestly, hills don't even start to get scary (I mean, fun!) until you pass 40 mph, in my opinion.

    I don't know, 30 with a 20 mph gusting crosswind is pretty fun.
    Damn the Man, Save the Empire
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by filtersweep
    My theory is that shimmy is rider induced- that being tense loads the BB and tightly grabbing the bars- that the rider actually starts shaking the bike. I simply cannot believe there is some weird resonant frequency that causes this. The reason the the knee on the TT works is that it unloads some of the weight on the pedals. There is no way holding your knee could actually stop the tube from "oscilating."
    There are some real physics issues with any 2-wheeled singletrack vehicle that cause shimmy/shake. Every bike has a speed which it will do it at. There are various causes that will kick it off.

    But you are totally right, just staying loose greatly reduces your chances of it happening. It is especially important to keep a relaxed grip on the bars.

    I've never seen it happen to anyone near me but I know several riders who claim to have had it. I've also never seen a video of it happening to a racer but there are plenty of famous ones of motorcycles doing it, and I've experienced it on a motorcycle.

    Here is a very famous video clip:

    http://senna.bikepics.com/wmv-416-96...pper-19sec.wmv

  13. #13
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    learn to let go of the brakes....

    It's natural to have fear of fast descending if you are new to the sport. It's better to lay back and gradually let the speed go, than to go balls out and end up going down (which I have done). The main thing is cornering technique, coming in high, hitting the apex and coming out low. You want to come out of the curve faster than you went into it. Learn to 'fan' your brakes and do most of your braking with your front brake. Another thing is having absolute confidence in your equipment, such as tires. Nothing will put you down faster than a blown or fattened front tire. I used to try to make up time by being a fast descender to make up for being a so-so climber, but now I'm going the other way around. I have guys that blow by me on descents, but when we start climbing I can gradually reel then in. Practice makes perfect, it all comes with time....I've seen some very experienced riders go 50MPH + down mountain roads not knowing what lays ahead (such as a rock slide). Being fast on descents is one thing, but riding smart is another......you want to be halfway in between..the idea is to make it back home...

    Dino

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by filtersweep
    My theory is that shimmy is rider induced- that being tense loads the BB and tightly grabbing the bars- that the rider actually starts shaking the bike. I simply cannot believe there is some weird resonant frequency that causes this. The reason the the knee on the TT works is that it unloads some of the weight on the pedals. There is no way holding your knee could actually stop the tube from "oscilating."
    My bike shimmies on longer downhills at any speed above 35. I have been on other bikes at that speed and it never happened so it seems like the bike to me. I will be getting another frame soon with a larger top tube to see if that cures it. It does stop when I touch the knee to the top tube.

    Descending never used to bother me. The first time I got this bike on a fast descent I was going 42 to 45 and the rear end seemed to be fishtailing. I had never experienced that before either and was not tense since I had no fear at speed. Now when I get up there I am waiting for it to happen.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobg
    I am fairly new to road biking. For some reason I am deathly afraid of riding down hills. I get up to about 18 mph and I start squeezing my brakes to slow down. I'll do this the whole way down the hill. When I am on flat spots or going up hill I can pedal much faster than 18 mph and I have no problem. It's just flying down hill that freaks me out. I have a bike that fits me well and I feel very comfortable on it. I have the same problem when I mountain bike. Does anyone have any suggestions for me? Thanks.
    As others have said practice, practice, practice.

    Another suggestion would be to pick a hill you know real well. Ride it a 18mph a few times paying attention to any holes, reflectors, or other possible obstructions. Once you know where the potential problems are to be avoided, ride the hill increasing your speed a couple of MPH at a time. 20mph is not that much faster. Once you're comfortable at 20, increase to 22, etc.......

    I've been riding a long time and I'm still hesitant when it comes to hills I've never ridden. Once I'm familar with the hill, watch out. I'll try to squeeze every MPH out of my bike.

    I'm in California on business and there is a 1/2 mile long hill I ride every day(Grand Ave in El Segundo). There is no traffic or curves on the hill but unfortunately there is a stop light at the bottom. The cross traffic is very busy. Since I've ridden this hill probably 50 times, my goal is to see how fast and far I can go and still stop at the bottom....My record so far is 38.5mph. It's a lot of fun until the one day I don't stop in time ;)
    Dave Hickey/ Fort Worth

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  16. #16
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    Ditto what dinosaur said. It's much better to ride smart and push your limits little by little. You do this and you'll be pushing for every MPH in no time. Some pointers that work for me are stay relaxed, really low on the bike, head up and always looking way ahead. On twisty roads I try to limit my breaking to the straights and keep off them the best I can in the corners. (Tires work best when you only ask them to do one thing at a time, brake, accelerate or change direction) Knowing how to corner well makes a big difference and if I find myself getting in over my head I try to relax and ride it out the best I can.

  17. #17
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    All good points.

    But I gotta admit I had ft. tire (F word)*, not a blow out just a rapid (F word)*. I was doing 45 down hill, down on my aerobars adn a long away from the brakes. I seemed to clip a big enough rock while in the bike lane** & caused a pinch (F word) I think***.

    The upshot is that I was able to come to a rapid, controlled stop without going down. I think my disc brakes had a bit to do with the even stopping. Ft. tire (F word)s* at speed are survivable and without pucker factor.

    I did not panic as I realized that I had a (F word) for some reason it was just a matter of course to come up out of the aerobars & find the brake levers. & FWIW I haven't had a (F word), on the road in a very long time. So (F word)ing experience was not a factor, probably just blissfull ignorance.

    * The word we dare not speak aloud or even write in full for fear that it will bring more of the same to self and others.

    ** Painted bike lanes are a verifiable bane to bike tires (& bike safety). There is no sweeping action from cars to help keep debris at bay.

    *** I say I think because my ft. tire pressure was a bit sub-par I noticed halfway through my ride and all of the 6, yes 6 tube hole sites were paired for 12 total holes. Most were probably from running (F word) for many meters while braking.

    P.S. My Kenda koncept that I think so highly of showed no damage at all from the impact or the running (F word). I am still running it today and it has 900 miles on it, Go Kenda!
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  18. #18
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    Hey is that the IOM TT footage? Looks like it. Great course, only been around it on four wheels.

    Quote Originally Posted by benInMA
    There are some real physics issues with any 2-wheeled singletrack vehicle that cause shimmy/shake. Every bike has a speed which it will do it at. There are various causes that will kick it off.

    But you are totally right, just staying loose greatly reduces your chances of it happening. It is especially important to keep a relaxed grip on the bars.

    I've never seen it happen to anyone near me but I know several riders who claim to have had it. I've also never seen a video of it happening to a racer but there are plenty of famous ones of motorcycles doing it, and I've experienced it on a motorcycle.

    Here is a very famous video clip:

    http://senna.bikepics.com/wmv-416-96...pper-19sec.wmv
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  19. #19
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    Good point-know your roads.....

    [QUOTE=Dave Hickey]As others have said practice, practice, practice.

    I've been riding a long time and I'm still hesitant when it comes to hills I've never ridden. Once I'm familar with the hill, watch out. I'll try to squeeze every MPH out of my bike.


    Good point about knowing your roads. I'm retired, I ride the same roads day-in-and-day-out. I pick the safe roads and know them in my sleep. I know where all the rough spots and pot holes are located. I know where I have to slow down, and where I can speed up to make up time. I'm also a little bit hesitant about going downhill fast on a road I don't know. Some roads are a little tricky and if you don't know them they can throw you off....

  20. #20
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    One word...

    Quote Originally Posted by benInMA
    YIKES!
    This wheel's on fire/rollin' down the road

  21. #21
    'brifter' is a lame word.
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    there are definitely some bikes

    Quote Originally Posted by vol245
    My bike shimmies on longer downhills at any speed above 35. I have been on other bikes at that speed and it never happened so it seems like the bike to me. I will be getting another frame soon with a larger top tube to see if that cures it. It does stop when I touch the knee to the top tube.

    Descending never used to bother me. The first time I got this bike on a fast descent I was going 42 to 45 and the rear end seemed to be fishtailing. I had never experienced that before either and was not tense since I had no fear at speed. Now when I get up there I am waiting for it to happen.
    that shimmy at speed more than others. in my experience, the carbon fibre ones made in santa cruz are the worst offenders. we've had many customers, more than any other single brand report that these bikes tried to scare the p**s out of them on downhills. i've seen it happen at speeds as low as 20mph. not really sure what causes it to happen, i've never had it happen to me in over 20 years of riding on the road, but it can and does happen.
    from what i understand, serotta has done a lot of studying on this and many other areas of bike handling, and they seem to think it has something to do w/ the stiffness of the front triangle. if i remember correctly. i do know that i have ridden some miles on an ottrott, and that bike hadles wonderfully, as has every other serotta i have ever ridden. they must have something figured out...

  22. #22
    BS the DC
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    You ride up the hill faster than you go down? Yes, I've got a suggestion for you. Quit being a puss and ride down the hill with your hand off the damn brake. There's nothing anyone can tell you. There's no special technique. Just butch up and do it. 18 mph is nothing. I know you might think I'm being mean and sarcastic or I just don't understand, but you're wrong. Sometimes you just have to call it like it is and face it like a man. You'll be much better off for it.
    "The team wasn't just riders. It was the mechanics, masseurs, chefs, soigneurs, and doctors. But the most important man on the team may have been the chiropractor."

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  23. #23
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    Sorry- I'd love to see the physics because I just don't buy it. Gripping the bars very tightly or tensing the legs creates additional forces on the bike that can literally shake it.

    I had a motorcycle with spoked wheels, and yes, it would shimmy at very high speeds- NOT unlike driving a car with a wheel out of balance. The frame was not oscilating, the wheel was.

    Prove me wrong, but I believe riders start to panic, take on a death grip, and trying to (over) control the bike, they literally shake it into a shimmy themselves- (presuming a wheel is not out of balance).

  24. #24
    105 and alum is good enuf
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    I can get up to 44.5 MPH coming down Kolekole pass here on Schofield, Oahu. I imagine i could be doing 47 or so if it weren't for the fact there are a few windy sections at the start and as soon as I'm accelerated to 30 or 32 or so i want to start applying the brakes.

    So I agree cornering seems to be the key skill to acquire for descending. I am terrified I will be in the other lane at least or maybe even off the road!!

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dinosaur
    Some roads are a little tricky and if you don't know them they can throw you off....
    That could lead to extinction and we wouldn't want that.

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