Descending on steep hills, how to approach when cars ahead?

Joe86
Joe86 Posts: 180
edited October 2009 in Road beginners
Hey folks. I have been expanding my routes, and I have been venturing into the hilly areas of Eastbourne. It has been tough, but enjoyable. Anyway, there is a hill that is about 10% and 1 km, I descended this hill for the first time recently. I was literally going at 35-40 mph within 1 second of releasing the brakes and freewheeling. Only problem I has was that the cars were going slow at about 35 mph that I was only able to roll for 2-3 seconds before I had to slam on the brakes, or risk going into the back of them. And I was literally on the brakes the whole way down. Is this usually what you have to do when descending on those roads which have regular traffic? Beachy Head was pretty clear when I went down there, so I didn't have that problem on those smaller hills.

Problem is that many of these cars are the ones that overtake you 10 meters before a descent, and then literally block you on the way down. How is it best to handle descending when you have cars in front of you? I was quite nervous on the way down :( as when I had reached those speeds before I had a clear run down.

Cheers

Comments

  • m8 I just bite the bullet! I have a few hills like that rounds mine, as you know the drive going up is the rush going down and I get chined off when as you say, 10m from the decent some car / wagon overtakes and slows down infront of you. Sh17 happens!
  • hopper1
    hopper1 Posts: 4,389
    If I can pass, I'll pass... Simple :wink:
    Start with a budget, finish with a mortgage!
  • Joe86
    Joe86 Posts: 180
    hopper1 wrote:
    If I can pass, I'll pass... Simple :wink:

    Something I had wondered but couldn't find the answer to :D Is it 'legal' to overtake a car, if you overtake on the left side of the lane? Mind you, descending at 50 mph, I'm not sure I would like to risk brushing past a car :oops:
  • freebs
    freebs Posts: 199
    Be careful sunshine.
  • desweller
    desweller Posts: 5,175
    Joe86 wrote:
    hopper1 wrote:
    If I can pass, I'll pass... Simple :wink:

    Something I had wondered but couldn't find the answer to :D Is it 'legal' to overtake a car, if you overtake on the left side of the lane? Mind you, descending at 50 mph, I'm not sure I would like to risk brushing past a car :oops:

    Shoulder check, pull out, pass on the right. Don't even think about skimming up the inside at that speed!
    - - - - - - - - - -
    On Strava.{/url}
  • cougie
    cougie Posts: 22,512
    Sweet baby jesus ! Not on the left !!

    If you are safe to overtake - do it on the right.

    I think you could do with reading a book on safe cycling - richards bicycle book was good when I was beginning.
  • Stellite
    Stellite Posts: 544
    Just follow Cancellaras decent on the Tour this year 8)
  • Joe86
    Joe86 Posts: 180
    cougie wrote:
    Sweet baby jesus ! Not on the left !!

    If you are safe to overtake - do it on the right.

    I think you could do with reading a book on safe cycling - richards bicycle book was good when I was beginning.

    I wouldn't consider overtaking on the left, I was just unsure if that was illegal or something that was just reckless behaviour as I haven't considered overtaking before. Most of the hills I'm worried about are curvy anyway, so overtaking on the right would also be dangerous as there isn't much clear room to spot traffic from the opposite direction.
  • Be extremely careful. As stated above, only overtake on the right and bear in mind that a car wont expect to be overtaken by a bike and if they're behind someone else, they may pull out themselves if it's a long straight.

    About the only place I do it is coming down Box Hill where there are speedbumps. You can sit on the right rear of the car, wait for them to brake for the speedbump, then get past quickly. And then realise you're going far too fast for the next hairpin.
  • Joe86
    Joe86 Posts: 180
    Be extremely careful. As stated above, only overtake on the right and bear in mind that a car wont expect to be overtaken by a bike and if they're behind someone else, they may pull out themselves if it's a long straight.

    About the only place I do it is coming down Box Hill where there are speedbumps. You can sit on the right rear of the car, wait for them to brake for the speedbump, then get past quickly. And then realise you're going far too fast for the next hairpin.

    Thats why I would be reluctant to overtake, as I would be surprised if a car driver would expect or even dislike you for coming past. Also often cars will be piled behind the slow driver, so it eliminates the possibility of overtaking. Thanks for the advice on overtaking though, I will bare it in mind if there is a safe opportunity.
  • cougie
    cougie Posts: 22,512
    To even contemplate asking the question shows me that you need a bit of guidance on the road. Riding with a club would teach you lots too.
  • hopper1
    hopper1 Posts: 4,389
    Overtake on the right, only when you can see far enough ahead to know it is safe.
    But, if you are a little apprehensive/uncertain, join a club, and enjoy gaining confidence by following example.
    Start with a budget, finish with a mortgage!
  • Garz
    Garz Posts: 1,155
    Only added danger when overtaking on the right is you a then exposed to oncoming traffic. Something which I rather not risk so I either slow down behind the car or if lots of room pick the better side, try to catch the drivers gaze in his mirrors if possible.
  • sherer
    sherer Posts: 2,460
    my tip of descending is if you are going at that speed, at the top of the hill signal and then take the middle of the road. At those sort of speeds I don't like being stuck in the gutter on the poorest part of the road.

    If you aren't sure if it is safe to pull out or overtake then don't
  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 42,132
    If it's safe to overtake then overtake, it is unlikely that anyone driving at a low speed will be the sort of person to take exception to you passing them.
  • Mossrider
    Mossrider Posts: 226
    I once managed to pass four cars at once descending the Snake Pass. Best abroad though. In the Alps cars often slow down to let you pass. Would never occur to anyone to do that here
  • Joe86
    Joe86 Posts: 180
    Thanks for all the advice guys. Today I took some of it into action, and overtook a car for the first time. Was going down a hill at about 25 mph and gave the car plenty of time to speed up and he didn't, and the car was holding me up so I was all clear from behind, and no cars coming the other way. It was very wide roads, enough for 2 cars in one lane. I come out and as I'm overtaking, the guy speeds and revs up, at this point I was doing 35 mph. Anyway, I managed to get past, but I guess cars really don't like being overtaken by a bike. Once I had passed he slowed down again. The guy who was behind me also caught me up about 1 mile down the road and hooted me :lol: Guess he was jealous that I had a free road for 1 mile, and no one in front or behind me. Mind you, he had about 1 mile of clear road to overtake too, so I don't know why he had a problem. Guess it is something I will endure, even doing safe overtaking, assessing traffic from all directions.
  • I had to pull to the right today, going down a bigger hill near Huddersfield, can get easily 40-45 out of it, was going today at 49.2 (pb!) as had a small tail wind, due to the wet I wouldnt have been able to break quickly enough for the learner driver that was going at about 35 mph as I came around the corner, so had to pull onto the right and fly past the 3 cars..

    Very scary when not expecting to do it!!
  • I had to pull to the right today, going down a bigger hill near Huddersfield, can get easily 40-45 out of it, was going today at 49.2 (pb!) as had a small tail wind, due to the wet I wouldnt have been able to break quickly enough for the learner driver that was going at about 35 mph as I came around the corner, so had to pull onto the right and fly past the 3 cars..

    Very scary when not expecting to do it!!

    Seriously good speed there
    but, and it's a big But

    margin for manoeuvre = virtually nil.

    I know you know that but let's not make PB stand for Post Bicyclist!
  • I know, only ever managed just over 45 before, then Im spinning like a spastic as currently run a compact. So tail wind was very welcome..Roll the the new chainset in summer, 50 is the big goal!

    But after today, will be making sure its on a big, open, safe road!