Ask Bi­cy­cling

Bicycling (South Africa) - - INSIDE -

How to cor­ner like a chee­tah, buy a qual­ity MTB, and splash the cash even if you’re on a bud­get.

Get Low

You’ll feel more se­cure steer­ing through sharp turns if you keep your cen­tre of grav­ity low. That means us­ing the drops (the low­est part of the han­dle­bars on a road bike); or on a flat- barred bike, sim­ply bend­ing your el­bows and dip­ping your torso a bit.

Loosen Up

Since you’re cor­ner­ing with your whole body, you need to keep your hips, feet, hands and torso free to move. So you have to keep loose! If you tense up your arms will straighten and you’ll end up fight­ing your bike through the turn. As you ap­proach a turn, con­sciously re­lax your hands and arms, so you have a firm – but not white- knuckle- tight – grip on the bars, and your up­per body feels loose. Your el­bows should be bent.

Feather Your Brakes

Hit­ting the brakes causes your bike to straighten out. That’s not the po­si­tion you want to be in go­ing into a turn. You want to get most (if not all) of your brak­ing out of the way be­fore you cor­ner, so you can coast through the turn. To do this, feather your brakes as you ap­proach the turn. If your weight shifts for­ward, you’re squeez­ing too hard. Let go once you’re in the turn, and only feather again if you need to ad­just.

Press Into Your Pedal

For sharp turns, you want to keep your wheels planted firmly on the ground (and avoid skid­ding) by weigh­ing your wheels. Ex­tend your out­side leg and push very heav­ily into the pedal, as you lightly press down on the han­dle­bar with your in­side hand. This will help you main­tain trac­tion as you sweep through the curve.

Look Where You Want To Go

Your bike fol­lows your eyes, like your body fol­lows your eyes. So, look through the cor­ner to where you want to go. Pay at­ten­tion to what some pros call the ‘ third eye’ ( your navel). That too should be ‘ look­ing’ (pointed) in the di­rec­tion you want to go, as it en­sures your hips and torso are car­ry­ing you through the turn. Al­ways re­mem­ber that you’re steer­ing with your whole body. So point your eyes, chin and shoul­ders in the di­rec­tion you want to go, and the rest will fol­low. First, don’t un­der­es­ti­mate the im­por­tance of a qual­ity hel­met. In a sport where crashes are in­evitable, it’s im­por­tant to en­sure that your head is pro­tected by the best hel­met pos­si­ble. The se­cond thing about your head­gear – par­tic­u­larly dur­ing warmer days – is to splurge on a lighter hel­met. It’ll be more com­fort­able, be­cause not only is there less weight on your head, it will also typ­i­cally of­fer bet­ter ven­ti­la­tion than cheaper al­ter­na­tives. Another thing you want to splash the cash on is prop­erly fit­ted cy­cling shoes. Sav­ing a grand on a pair of hand- me- downs that squeeze your big toe won’t only be un­com­fort­able; it could cause you nerve dam­age, in the long run. There is also the prospect of hot foot, another prod­uct of shoes be­ing too tight. Also as you get fit­ter you’ll spend more time on the bike, and it’s no fun push­ing ped­als for hours while your feel feel like they’re boil­ing in oil. Proper chamois is another big deal. Cheaper ones may of­fer some pad­ding, but won’t last as long, and of­ten don’t of­fer the same kind of mois­ture wick­ing abil­i­ties more ex­pen­sive ones do. Low- qual­ity chamois can lead to sad­dle sores, and the more com­fort­able your are in the sad­dle, the more likely you are to keep rid­ing your bike.

I’M ON A TIGHT BUD­GET, BUT I KNOW I CAN’T GO CHEAP ON EV­ERY­THING – WHAT SHOULD I DEF­I­NITELY BREAK THE BANK ON?

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