Cycling like a granny

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by Cathryn, 5 Aug 2007.

  1. Cathryn

    Cathryn California Correspondant

    Okay....question. Is there a knack to going downhill? I know this sounds ridiculous but I realised today I'm not good at going downhill. I get quite scared of speed (like 18mph upwards) so brake all the way. I think it's simply fear of falling off, breaking my neck and getting some interesting scabs on my arms.

    It's partly that in Leeds and the area around it, the surfaces are abysmal and you never know if you're going down a pothole or not. But I also think it's me...I ski like a granny too.

    Bearing in mind I'm planning a trip across Switzerland next year, I need to crack this downhill malarky. Any hints???
  2. Dayvo

    Dayvo Just passin' through

    Don't know if it's any help, but try and find a willing/trustworthy partner to tandem with and have a go at a descent on that!
    If you think the control is in their hands you might be able to relax and enjoy the speed instead of unecessarily fearing it. :rolleyes:
  3. Chuffy

    Chuffy Veteran

    Is it partly a lack of confidence in your bike handling skills? I'm pretty confident on a bike, not because of any inate skill, it's just that I've spent so much time in the saddle. Even so, I reach my personal 'granny point' at about 40mph. Beyond that I get nervous about controlling the bike and getting round bends etc. On something as twisty as Cheddar Gorge I'll be braking the whole way down while more assured riders belt down at well over 40.
    I think it's probably a case of easing your way up (or down!) the learning curve, rather than looking for one magic solution.
    Having said that, you could always try looking for a small hill, on a quiet road nearby. Practice going down that hill, without brakes and gradually build up your confidence.
    Good luck, I'm sure you'll be fine. Just remember to take plenty of spare brake blocks with you to Switzerland....:rolleyes:
  4. OP

    Cathryn California Correspondant

    I think it's partly bike handling skills...I have a new bike with dropped handlebars so am still getting used to that, which I think contributes to it. I wasn't as nervous as I am now on my lovely old hybrid. Good point, Chuffy.

    I also think it's a control thing...I spent a weekend on a tandem with my Dad who I trust completely but noticed I kept telling him to slow down.

    I think you may both be right...just need to get a bit more used to going faster.
  5. Chuffy

    Chuffy Veteran

    Ah, yes, that would make me nervous if I wasn't used to it.
    Forgive me if I'm stating the bleedin' obvious but do you brake from the hoods? Resting your hands on the brake hoods gives you a more upright position which might be more reassuring if you've come from a hybrid. You should still be able to get to the brakes with your index and middle fingers. You probably won't have full power on them, but you should be able to modulate your speed enough to be comforting.

    PS - You'd never get me on the back of a tandem, I don't like the idea of not being in control!
  6. Membrane

    Membrane New Member

    Confidence is affected by how good your observation skills are, reading road surface conditions, traffic, yard exits etc. Knowing what lines to take through a bend, when to brake and when not to also helps a lot. Id recommend buying a good book on cycling. I haven't read it myself, but AFAIK a book called "Cyclecraft" is well regarded.

    Having learned the theory you then still have to put it to practice. Riding with more experienced cyclists can show you what is possible.

    Be careful with braking all the way downhill. Rim brakes can heat up the rims on long descends so much that the tyre will blow off. Better brake more strongly but intermittently, this allows the rims to cool off a bit better.
  7. OP

    Cathryn California Correspondant

    Membrane...please don't take this the wrong way but your username is the most disgusting one I've ever seen!!!!! However I'm enormously grateful for the advice and will hit Borders tomorrow to buy the book. Good point about braking style!

    Chuffy, yes I'm very much a 'hoods' girl and having small hands, this also affects easy I find braking is!!

    Thanks for the advice guys....just hearing some common sense makes me worry less. I think I'll get there in time.
  8. HJ

    HJ Cycling in Scotland

    Auld Reekie
    Look well ahead and try to plan your line, if you are down on the drops try to keep your shoulders loose as it will make it easier to keep you head up.
  9. Being cautious about speed on descents isn't being a 'granny'.

    Last week, I was out riding in the countryside. Descending a huge hill
    at 48kph (fast for me) when I thought "What would happen now if something darted out from a hedgerow?" Nothing did, but the thought still slowed me down! :rolleyes:
  10. frog

    frog Guest

    Might not be you - it could be the bike. My first bike was a mid range off the peg tourer which had a mind of it's own when it came to steering. You really had to think yards ahead.

    The latest is a flat barred tourer and couldn't be more different. Knowing how the thing is going to behave is a huge boost to confidence
  11. P.H

    P.H Über Member

    I had the same feelings when transferring from straight to drop bars.
    I fitted cross top levers which IMO gives the best of both worlds. Creek Crosstop Brake Lever Set

    There are other, cheaper brands, I choose that link because it has the best picture and explanation:smile:

    I know it's only anecdotal but the only serious accident I've had in 10 years was at around 7mph:blush:
  12. Maggot

    Maggot Guest

    I was out for a ride yesterday, and near the Big Green Gathering a guy on a racer caught me up and we plotted a bit of a route together. He also mentioned that he didn't descend very well, and we should meet at the bottom, fairy enough. However when we came to the top of Burrington Combe he seemed to disappear from view, he was so far behind me I thought he must have crashed:ohmy: I was going reasonably quick mind (probably about 45mph or more in places), but the funny thing was when we got to the bottom I waited, and he just waved and turned the opposite way:sad:

    If he had stuck with it, I feel sure he would have seen gravity work on bulk in the opposite fashion:biggrin:

    Anyway, I am sorry if you are from Cranmore and are reading this, I didn't mean to show off, I just get my kicks going downhill on a road-bike really fast. No hard feelings:blush:
  13. there's no knack, it's just confidence. i descended like a granny when i got on a road bike for the first time.

    i've done a descent where i was totally spinning out a 53:11 and still accelerating. i didn't even think about braking, just let the bike go and trusted in it.

    good luck.

  14. OP

    Cathryn California Correspondant

    Guys, thanks for all the encouragement.It's hugely appreciated.

    I took my hybrid out for a spin this evening and noticed I didn't even think about going downhill, although I'm never going to be a speedster. I think it's a case of getting used to the drops and the new bike. If I still ride like my Nan in three months, I'll think harder.

    PH - I LOVE those handlebars, will look into them. They look ideal!!!
  15. Membrane

    Membrane New Member

    I'm not going to ask what sort of association you have with my monicker because I don't think I'd want to read the answer. :blush: You still deserve a virtual slap for having such disgusting thoughts :rolleyes:

    FYI it is derived from a song from the 90's IIRC that contained the line "insane in the membrane", where "membrane" is slang for "brain".
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