I've been reading a number of newbie roadie threads about handlebars positions, aching hands, fear of the drops, and so on. It got me thinking about the way I use my drops, and I decided to try and share this with you. It is in no way the right or wrong way to use them, and I'm sure there are other ways. I hope my post might help you.
Firstly, being a veteran, and a bit stiff, I use very shallow drops (like a lot of the TDF riders do).
I use 8 different hand positions as follows......
Right on the tops - For long seated climbs, or sitting up in the buch. For easy riding. Though I sometimes ride hard in this position, especially with a tailwind.
On the tops - A sort of 'ready' position where I can relax but quickly and easily more to a more serious position.
On the corners - I use this postion a lot in a bunch. When riding close. It's easy to 'touch' other riders from this position. They like it! Slide forward and you're on the hoods.
Touching the hoods - I use this position a lot when training. It's a little lower and a good 'working' postion. Can be used standing.
On the hoods - Fully on the hoods. I can brake from here. A good position if you are riding with riders you are not sure of. Or communting in heavy traffic. Low enough to go fast, high enough to see ahead. Can be used standing.
On the hoods top - when the pace is high I'll ride here. It allows you to get down and suffer.
On the drops/brakes - Going fast and needing to brake. Voila! Can be used standing.
On the drops - Going fast on my own, or in a small group, or if it's raining and windy. On the drops. Bend elbows and grimmace for better effect. Also used for 'commited' sprinting. Can be used standing.
FWIW - I've been riding on the road since the early 80s. I was schooled in road riding by scousers, mostly from the Liverpool Cantury Road Club. Happy days!