Take Cor­ners Quickly

Tips to get you in, and out, of turns with the most speed

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - TECHNIQUE - By Andrew Ran­dell and Steve Neal of The Cy­cling Gym

Cor­ner­ing skills are some of the ba­sics that can make your rid­ing smoother and more en­joy­able. If you are rid­ing in a group and can roll through the cor­ners smoothly, you will save lots of en­ergy by not hav­ing to ac­cel­er­ate out of ev­ery turn just to hold the wheel ahead.

Many rid­ers think of the path around a cor­ner as an arc. It isn’t. In fact you are ac­tu­ally try­ing to make a straight line, as best you can, through the cor­ner. You en­ter the cor­ner by ini­ti­at­ing your turn, then try to ride a straight line through the apex, and then head out the other side of the cor­ner to fin­ish and straighten up again.

Ini­ti­at­ing your turn prop­erly is the most chal­leng­ing part of the tech­nique. Get this right and you will breeze through the apex and out the other side of the cor­ner. Let’s start by looking at what hap­pens to the bike. Ini­ti­at­ing the turn means lean­ing the bike into the cor­ner, but we get the bike to do this in an un­ex­pected way, and it doesn’t in­volve turn­ing the bars.

Let’s take a right-hand turn as an ex­am­ple. The bike has a ten­dency to want to carry on in a straight line. To get the bike to break away from this straight line, we lean our weight on the inside of the han­dle bars (the right side of the bar in this case). This lean gets the bike “div­ing” into the cor­ner. The tim­ing of the turn’s initiation is im­por­tant. You want to start the turn at the point where you can line your­self up to take a straight path through the apex, the deep­est part of the cor­ner. Out the other side is less com­pli­cated and is re­ally a case of straight­en­ing up the bike again as the forces push­ing on you dis­si­pate. An im­por­tant tip here: keep your out­side pedal down through the cor­ner. When cor­ner­ing, you want to use as much of the road as safely pos­si­ble – “out­side to inside to out­side” should be your cor­ner­ing mantra. On the road, think “yel­low line to apex to yel­low line.” Fol­low­ing this path will re­duce the forces work­ing against you in the turn, and help you line up bet­ter with the apex. Try tak­ing a turn quickly from the inside of the cor­ner, along the curb; you’ll find it doesn’t work.

Now let’s talk about po­si­tion­ing your body in a turn. It is im­por­tant to lower your cen­tre of grav­ity as much as pos­si­ble. There­fore, be­fore you ini­ti­ate the turn, you want to lower your chest to­ward the bar, keep­ing your weight dis­trib­uted evenly be­tween the front and rear wheels. Now push on the inside of the han­dle­bar and “dive” into the cor­ner. As you dive, you also want to drop your knee into the cor­ner, just like a Mo­togp racer. Drop­ping the knee can make a big dif­fer­ence.

Your out­side leg, which is al­ways at the bot­tom of the pedal stroke as we men­tioned, and out­side hand also play a cru­cial role. They should both be press­ing the bike down ag­gres­sively into the ground to help main­tain your tire contact. And as we’ve noted, you want to keep some weight on the front wheel. Make it too light and it will wash out from un­der­neath you.

Fi­nally, take a look at the qual­ity of your tires and their pres­sure. Re­search has shown that lower pres­sure is faster and will in­crease the per­for­mance of your tire. We are run­ning 25c tires at 65 to 70 p.s.i. front and rear. Try it: you might be sur­prised.

Ini­ti­ate your turn lean­ing your weight into it. Keep your body low. Try to make the cor­ner as straight as pos­si­ble. Prac­tise while rid­ing down a shal­low grade and start to feel how the bike falls away from be­neath you, and then take it into a cor­ner and set your­self up right to blast the apex.

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