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Old January 22nd, 2018, 12:07 AM   #1
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Location: Nashville, TN
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Default Good downhill inline brake - the humble umbrella

So, I have heard of or seen a couple of cases where an umbrella was used to propel an inline skater or ice skater from a standstill. Of course, this only works if you have some wind.

Well, today I carried a fairly large standard umbrella to (instead) use as a brake on tricky downhills on a local greenway.

And...what do you know, it works of course, but is mostly useful when at a high rate of speed on a fairly long and straight downhill path.

Some benefits over standard inline brakes or brake methods on downhills:

-It works in wet conditions where using ones wheels or a rubber brake would simply cause one to slip/skid
-It can be used in a crowded path with other people as you simply hold it above your shoulder with the chute open. I also use the plow technique but you have to spread your legs wide for it to be most effective which is problematic in crowded and narrow bike paths.
-It doesn't wear out or get used up and keeps your wheels from getting degraded.
-You can deploy it at pretty much anytime and collapse it back quickly when not needed holding it in one hand.

Since I have recently started using some powerslide metropolis boots with a megacruiser pro 3x125 setup and rather hard wheels with less than ideal grip, I find that picking up too much speed on downhills can be an issue.

Only real minor downside is that once you get going fast downhill the chute will really kick in and you have to be careful not to let it cause you to lose balance from the increased pullback.

Anybody else tried it?
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Old January 29th, 2018, 03:47 AM   #2
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Default Update

I did some more tests with this and have a few more observations.

First, I would suggest against trying this if there is more than a small amount of wind blowing. Wind causes the umbrella to behave very erratically and can really cause one to lose balance, not to mention it flying out of ones hand/hands.

Second, I wondered what would happen if I used an even larger golf umbrella that I came across at Walmart. Well, it was simply too big and more likely to contort, even becoming inverted in use or rather outroverted(?) It would also be more likely to block ones vision if held outward and in front.

Additionally, I had my original break one of its thinner arms, but again, I believe this had more to do with the gusts of wind blowing.

I guess it also makes a difference if one is in more of an open area like a road versus a more secluded bike path amongst trees. Strong wind gusts seem more likely on open roads.

I now wonder if a steel framed umbrella would be better as I believe mine was just a composite or plastic type.
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Old February 3rd, 2018, 08:48 AM   #3
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Location: Conroe, TX
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Back in the day I remember seeing ads in the back of Inline magazine that showed a waist attached parachute that you could buy for training purposes. I guess the idea was to just skate around with it deployed lol. I always wondered if it could be opened suddenly for braking purposes.
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Old February 8th, 2018, 05:32 PM   #4
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I remember those waist parachutes. Not sure, but I thought they were used to add drag for a better workout. I think you can get a better workout by simply skating uphill.

There are rope-less parachutes that downhill longboarders usefor braking. They look like round tablecloths, about 5 feet in diameter, with one edge tied to your ankle and two edges attached to outstretched hands. I have also seen parachutes on a long, swiveled tether that are used for pulling people on boards/skates.

Wind sails and kites are somewhat related, but are more for accelerating than braking. I have seen them used on the bike trail at Venice Beach. Some sails have a clear “window” in the middle. I don’t know if the window is for visibility while tacking, for side vision, or for front views when braking with the sail in front of you. Actually, I have never seen a sail used for braking, so I kinda doubt that it can be used that way.

A small version of a sail might work. Maybe one that folds up like a hand fan when not in use. It could also be used for accelerating, of course. I have never seen any small sails, except for two people who MacGyvered them out of large pieces of cardboard (hey, it worked). Most sails that I have seen are fairly large, like 6 - 9 feet tall and delta or triangle shaped. If not careful, you could take out other people on the bike trail. Think they would be safer in an empty parking lot or on an open road. A small sail would prolly not go as fast or brake as hard, but would be safer in crowded places and easier to handle. Could be a fun garage project.
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