Friday, March 4, 2011

Robert asked ...

Before starting this post, I was surfing through the previous posts looking for the prior "Robert asked ..." posts -- then it hit me -- I put that "Google-Search" function at the top of the right-hand side-bar for exactly this kind of situation -- to find similar prior posts.  Sheesh!
Ricochet Robert is joining about 5 other Irregulars tomorrow, Mar-05, for a trip to Hanging Rock (HR) State Park north of Winston-Salem, NC.  Once at HR, they will ride down the 2-mile 600-foot descent and then ride 19 miles across to Pilot Mt., go up and down it, then ride a dozen miles to the bottom of the Sauartown Mtn climb, go up and down it, then ride another dozen miles to the bottom of the HR climb, and climb back up to the parking lot.  (Click here for a map.)

That will be Robert's first mountain ride.

Robert's adult riding career began Apr-24th last year at 61-years-young.  He admits to being 62 now, and he rode a 300 km brevet recently (most of it solo).  He is rapidly becoming a veteran, but he likes to try to be COMPLETELY prepared before undertaking a new challenge (how boring).  As such, he sent me an e-mail earlier today and I took a few minutes to share my limited advice (mostly developed en route the Blue Ridge Parkway last September).  Robert e-mailed back suggesting I use the e-mails to create another "Robert asked ..." post.  I think he gets a kick out of it; maybe he figures it is a cheap way to keep advice handy.  Anyway, enough justification:
Martin, ... [h]opefully the guys will give me a few pointers on [mountain] riding on the way there tomorrow.  ...  .
I couldn't resist (even though I know, and everyone that rides with me ought to know, I don't really know what I'm writing about):
advice - descending is where advice is most likely to be useful
if you can't see the bottom and the road is not straight, scrub speed.
if you can't see around the curve, scrub speed.
if you can't see where the road is going, scrub speed.
if the road has a lot of loose gravel, pea-gravel or sand, carefully scrub speed.
Lee apparently carried too much speed into the curve.  
to scrub some speed, SIT UP, make your chest as big as you can, spread your shoulders wide, and catch air ... but keep your hands near the hoods and brake levers.
 _(even a small body such as yours can create a significant air-brake.)
to scrub a lot of speed, squeeze the brakes pretty hard (not toooo hard), significantly reduce speed, then get off the brakes.
 _(if you regain too much speed, repeat the "get-in-get-out" ... you MUST allow the rims time to cool)
 _ _("Paul of Norwood" probably over-heated his rims.) 
try to alternate using front and rear brakes (to give the rims time to cool down).
use the front brake to slow when the road is straight.
use the rear brake to slow when going around a curve. 
if it feels too fast, slow down. 
do NOT constantly apply "just a little brake" -- that will heat up your rims. 
if you smell your brake pads, you have probably been applying the brakes inappropriately,
if you smell your brake pads, your rims are over-heating. 
knee up on the inside of the turn.
you don't have to steer the bike to turn when descending,
you don't really have to consciously lean the bike to turn when descending.
a little extra pressure on one side of the handlebar is enough make the bike to turn in that direction. 
Sometimes the guys tease Iva about being sooo careful, but that seems a good approach to me.
On the first descent (down Hanging Rock), stay behind Iva, and practice alternating the use of your brakes.
But do NOT overdo the brake testing and overheat your pads or rims. 
If, on that first two miles going down from Hanging Rock, you have butterflies in your stomach ... welcome to the club.
You'll get over them, but ALWAYS remain highly alert on the downhills. 
Btw, I have successfully climbed Sauartown (and Hanging Rock).


  1. Robert handled all the descents safely, he handled all of the climbs like he has been riding the mountains for a while. Made me look sick on the climbs...


  2. Robert weighs nothing, but has decent power. That should mean that he can climb like no tomorrow.

    Robert weighs nothing, so doesn't build up nearly as much momentum as some (e.g., me) on descents. That means he likely doesn't have to "manage" his speed and braking issues as much as some (e.g., me).


  3. Martin, thank you for the good advice on was very welcomed especially since all the roads were wet and yes there were butterflies in the cold and rain. It all worked well but one time I smelled my brakes so I stopped to feel them but they were not hot.... I guess the rain had a cooling effect on them. It was kinda of funny... when I could not see the bottom, it was brake, brake, brake and then I could so it immediately turned to pedal, pedal, pedal. Robert