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  1. #1
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    cornering & geometry

    Seven cat 5 races, and it's clear that all aspects of my riding (of course) need improvement. But the one area where I'm _dramatically_ lacking is cornering skill. Now, I'm sure that at least 80% of the problem lies w/ me, and I've been working on it ... but I'm wondering if this is one place where the bike itself might actually matter. I've been riding a bike w/ a 'touring' geometry; would 3cm shorter wheelbase & a few degree steeper seat&head angle make a significant difference? I've half-convinced myself that a change'd be a magic fix, but suspect this may be delusional. Raced my first (non-technical) crit on sunday, and my corning deficiency was painfully apparent. Is it just a matter of practice, or would a bike w/ a proper racing geometry really help?
    Last edited by brittle; 05-19-08 at 06:10 PM. Reason: tpyo? typo.

  2. #2
    My idea of fun kensuf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brittle View Post
    Seven cat 5 races, and it's clear that while all aspects of my riding (of course) need improvement. But the one area where I'm _dramatically_ lacking is cornering skill. Now, I'm sure that at least 80% of the problem lies w/ me, and I've been working on it ... but I'm wondering if this is one place where the bike itself might actually matter. I've been riding a bike w/ a 'touring' geometry; would 3cm shorter wheelbase & a few degree steeper seat&head angle make a significant difference? I've half-convinced myself that a change'd be a magic fix, but suspect this may be delusional. Raced my first (non-technical) crit on sunday, and my corning deficiency was painfully apparent. Is it just a matter of practice, or would a bike w/ a proper racing geometry really help?
    Sorry to say it, but the bike's not likely to make a heck of a lot of difference in a cat4/5 race. Go practice your cornering in a parking lot and ease off the brakes man.

    Buttttt, if getting a new bike for racing makes you happy, who am I to deny you the inner self-loathing that can only be expressed through new bike schwag.
    Putting the Duh in Floriduh.

  3. #3
    Senior Member BigSean's Avatar
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    It could. Seems like a good reason to get a new bike.

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    Announcer EventServices's Avatar
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    Yes, some bikes corner better than others.
    But there are still skills to work on.

    1. Look farther through the turn. DO NOT look at the ground.

    2. Pick your arc and stick to it. Do not make several small turns to get around one corner.

    3. You can go faster than you think.

    4. Practice

    5. Get off the bike. Put the left pedal at the bottom of the stroke. Lean the bike over and see at what angle the pedal makes contact with the pavement. Avoid this angle at all cost.

    6. Get back on the bike and keep at it.
    Last edited by EventServices; 05-19-08 at 05:03 PM. Reason: spelling

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    B(.)(.)BS badfishgood's Avatar
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    Bend your arms and keep them relaxed... lower your inside elbow a little to engage the lean. Ditto what Event said above...
    Shallow genius, deep idiot.

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    Geosynchronous Falconeer recursive's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EventServices View Post
    5. Get off the bike. Put the left pedal at the bottom of the stroke. Lean the bike over and see at what angle the pedal makes contact with the pavement. Avoid this angle at all cost.
    You mean avoid pedalling at this angle? Right?
    Bring the pain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by badfishgood View Post
    Bend your arms and keep them relaxed... lower your inside elbow a little to engage the lean. Ditto what Event said above...
    I've searched out as much 'cornering technique' text as I could find online, and this is the first time I've seen the lowered inside elbow bit. Thanks much -- I'm trying that tomorrow.

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    go on a ride with someone who is very good at descending/cornering. it will help you see just how fast you can take a corner, and show you what lines to take.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EventServices View Post
    Yes, some bikes corner better than others.
    But there are still skills to work on.

    1. Look farther through the turn. DO NOT look at the ground.

    2. Pick your arc and stick to it. Do not make several small turns to get around one corner.

    3. You can go faster than you think.

    4. Practice

    5. Get off the bike. Put the left pedal at the bottom of the stroke. Lean the bike over and see at what angle the pedal makes contact with the pavement. Avoid this angle at all cost.

    6. Get back on the bike and keep at it.
    Thanks for the list. #3 I understand in theory, but it still hasn't sunk in. I guess it's all down to #4 & 6. I've found this extremely frustrating -- w/ all other aspects of my riding -- general strength, endurance, ability to navigate pack, work w/in group, anticipate race dynamics -- I'm at least minimally capable, have been seeing real improvements, and can anticipate improvement ... my cornering, though, just sucks. I've been semi-actively working on it, and have seen marginal improvements over the last few months, but it's still crappy.

    I suspect this is largely a failure of nerve, but I'd like to imagine there's some basic concept which hasn't clicked for me yet. Or that there's a magic hardware solution.

    Poor/timid cornering hasn't been too much of a hindrance in the circuit races that I've done, but it's gunna be debilitating in any crits I do. Meh. I guess I just have to approach the problem more deliberately. And probably get a new bike as well, though that clearly isn't the root problem.
    Last edited by brittle; 05-19-08 at 06:51 PM. Reason: oops

  10. #10
    Making a kilometer blurry waterrockets's Avatar
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    Don't forget the countersteering! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C848R9xWrjc

    Until you learn to corner well on your current bike, I think a twitchy crit bike would likely cause more problems that it would solve.

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    Having raced on a "touring" geometry front ends, I can tell you that such a bike is just as stable mid-turn but does not want to turn in quite as quickly.

    First race I ever did I was off the back, my teammate yelled at me to corner like I was trying to fall over. I did, I didn't fall, and I went faster.

    Do corners in the drops. If you aren't comfy in the drops (can't brake, shift, etc) then your bike is not set up right.

    Weight the front of the bike.

    Lean the bike and your body the same amount. There are reasons to lean one more than the other but for now, the same is better. This lets you get into a hard cornering "groove" where the bike is extremely stable while at a very hard cornering angle. Leaning bike or body more makes it a little less easy to get into that groove.

    Inside pedal up, at least to start. Then start pedaling out of the turn sooner and sooner.

    You can practice cornering lines at sub-25 mph speeds but to practice cornering where you actually "set" the bike at an angle, I think you have to go 28-30+ mph (entry speed). Remember, start on a clean dry surface. Then not clean but dry. Then wet but clean. Then wet and not clean.

    Cornering lines, short discussion:
    http://sprinterdellacasa.blogspot.co...ing-lines.html

    Setting up bars and why you should set them up correctly:
    http://sprinterdellacasa.blogspot.co...for-crits.html
    Note how it's easy to shift and/or brake from the drops. If you can't corner from the drops, you're simply not weighting the front of the bike enough. Much easier to wash out the front wheel. Exception is if you do a LOT of long descents (i.e. 20-30 minutes or more, avg say 30-40 mph with switchbacks - for me that means 15 miles of descending non-stop). For short 1-2 mile descents, no need to have a slightly higher position.

    Why setting up your bike for riding on the hoods may not be the best thing.
    http://sprinterdellacasa.blogspot.co...hy-i-hate.html

    Practice cornering on clean, dry pavement. Then progress to not so clean, not dry pavement. Don't do it like I did (as a kid) but you'll get the idea here:
    http://sprinterdellacasa.blogspot.co...hen-youre.html

    hope this helps,
    cdr

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    What someone who corners like a pro told me:

    1-hands in the drops
    2-light grip on the bars
    3-head low
    4-eyes focused through the turn - like driving
    5-slight weighting on inside hand - this pushes the front so that it "sticks"
    6-outside foot down, weighted to the point that your "floating" above the saddle
    7-saddle nose in your inside groin area
    8-inside elbow and inside knee nearly touch each other
    9-exhale as you initiate the turn to loosen up your torso

    Other information here that I'm sure is better than the advice you're getting from me otherwise, http://www.truesport.com/rzone/artic....asp?recid=320

    1,2,3 are pretty natural; 4,5, and 6 are what keep you upright; 7, 8 are position checks and might vary from person to person; 9 is for me to keep me from getting too skerd.
    Last edited by MDcatV; 05-19-08 at 08:08 PM. Reason: add link

  13. #13
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    Rereading your post - I think I know why you're having problems cornering, esp in a non-technical crit. Could it be discomfort cornering in a pack? Meaning, on a straight you have no problems sitting in the group, but in a turn, with everyone taking slightly different lines, it can be extremely unsettling. I used to "wait" until I felt good cornering in a field - it used to take me till June/July, but each year it came earlier, until one year, first race I did I felt good. Now, even though I may not do a group ride between July and March, I feel totally at home in a 70-90 rider field in March.

    Cornering in a pack is totally different than cornering alone. So with that in mind:
    1. Corner in (imaginary) "lanes". If you start off on the inside line, you hold the inside line the whole corner. Say it's a right turn. If you start on the right side of the field, that's your spot! Stay on the right side. No drifting out. If it's a right turn and there is ONE guy to your right (i.e. you're in "lane 2") then that's your lane. Stay one guy from the inside the whole corner.

    2. If in doubt, find a stable rider. Not necessarily a guy that wins or places well but a guy who doesn't swerve all over the road and seems to be somewhat calm in the chaos of a bike race. Watch him for a bit, and if he confirms your suspicions that he's "stable" then sit on his wheel. Copying someone is a very good way of learning the "cornering lane" thing.

    3. Don't brake unless others brake. Coast.

    4. Practice riding as close as possible to other riders on straights. Sit to one side of them if you're uncomfortable being right behind them. This will help keeping gaps closed on turns. On straights you should be 1-2 feet MAX behind a rider while 0-1 foot to the side (compare tires between you and him).

    5. Practice bumping in turns. I watched Cat 5s corner and there was about 2-4 feet space to their left and right sides. This should be more like 0.5-1.5 feet. Doesn't sound like a major difference but it is. If you end up far away from everyone you get less draft, you have no draft once you exit the turn, and you burn a lot of energy.

    6. If at the back, start coasting before the turn, depending on much the field slows. The idea is to avoid braking and avoid accelerating. For example, if you're coming up to a sharp 90 turn, and you're at the back of the field, normally you'd have to brake hard and then sprint to hang onto the wheels. Instead of doing that you can start coasting or soft pedaling with 30-40 yards to go to the turn. You'll come off the back a bit, but as you coast into the turn at a reasonable 25 mph, you'll find yourself quickly running up the back end of the field who might be going 22 mph. At high speeds (straights are at 35-38 mph) I found myself coasting for a good 5-10 seconds going into 3 of 4 turns in a big East Coast crit - Somerville - especially turn 3, a downhill left hander. I could corner at 30 mph and pass guys while coasting as I came out of the turn (!). (To finish the story, when I tried to move up I killed myself and I got shelled).

    7. Forget optimal cornering lines. That's for solo riding. On a 5 lane highway, you don't corner from outside to inside to outside - you stay in your lane. Same with bike racing except no lane markers. The optimal cornering line when cornering in a field is one that doesn't take you inside the inside curb and doesn't go beyond the outside one. And follows everyone else's wheels, except for the squirrelly riders who insist on taking the "optimal" line regardless of who is around them.

    My brain is somewhat fried right now but that would start the list of "cornering in a field".

    cdr

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
    Why setting up your bike for riding on the hoods may not be the best thing.http://sprinterdellacasa.blogspot.co...hy-i-hate.html
    Great read. Thanks

  15. #15
    Announcer EventServices's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by recursive View Post
    You mean avoid pedalling at this angle? Right?
    Yes. Correct. Obviously you can coast through leaning farther than this, but to pedal is to fly in a manner unbecoming a bike racer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
    Rereading your post - I think I know why you're having problems cornering, esp in a non-technical crit. Could it be discomfort cornering in a pack? Meaning, on a straight you have no problems sitting in the group, but in a turn, with everyone taking slightly different lines, it can be extremely unsettling. I used to "wait" until I felt good cornering in a field - it used to take me till June/July, but each year it came earlier, until one year, first race I did I felt good. Now, even though I may not do a group ride between July and March, I feel totally at home in a 70-90 rider field in March.
    You know what -- I think you hit it. And somehow I didn't realize this was the problem until you said it. I'm not as confident going through hard turns at speed as I'd like to be, but I've been working on it and getting better; it's only when I race, and feel like most other folks are cornering 'better' that it's a pressing issue ... and thinking about it now, the problem isn't that they corner 'better' -- it's that I feel uncomfortable being cornering near them.

    Thinking about it a little more, I think I know what the psychological issue is. All the cornering instruction out there makes me think of proper cornering as something where you don't really have control once it's underway -- before you start, determine your line, enter at the fastest speed you take it at, and then go through it, following the endpoint w/ yr eyes, accelerating out once you hit pass the apex. Which is fine when solo, but when there are other folks on all sides, I worry that I've taken the 'wrong' line, or just a _different_ line from someone else, or entering too fast, and having to decide between braking or hitting the guy in front -- not only do I have to do it 'correctly', I have to trust everyone around to do the same ... and once underway, I either have no further control or am doing it wrong. Which isn't really the case at all.

    I suspect (or rather, hope) that just being aware that this is the problem should go a long way towards solving it. We'll see this weekend, I guess. Many thanks for all the text. A big help, and very much appreciated.

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    See the wheel in front of yours? Thats your line... follow it!
    Please remember that all statements unless quoted, are strictly my opinion of what happened. That there are as many opinions as there are spectators attending. I just choose to publish mine on this forum. And would NEVER intend to purposely hurt or discredit any other cyclist.... With that said... HTFU!

  18. #18
    Senior Member chinotex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
    Note how it's easy to shift and/or brake from the drops. If you can't corner from the drops, you're simply not weighting the front of the bike enough. Much easier to wash out the front wheel. Exception is if you do a LOT of long descents (i.e. 20-30 minutes or more, avg say 30-40 mph with switchbacks - for me that means 15 miles of descending non-stop). For short 1-2 mile descents, no need to have a slightly higher position.
    What are you descending, the Matterhorn?
    2007 Trek 1500; 2008 Raleigh One-Way

    "R[ide] with the swift, in the hopes of one day finishing second." -John J. McCloy

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by wfrogge View Post
    See the wheel in front of yours? Thats your line... follow it!
    I disagree with this! I was told the same thing and in my second CAT5 race I did just that. The problem was that it was a CAT5 race and the guy in front took a line that shot him into the curb. Lucky that the mailbox broke his fall otherwise he would have hit the grass. I hit the brakes hard, bumped the curb with my back tire but somehow stayed up. That was the last time I trusted that the guy in front knew what line to take.

    carpediemracing had a very good post. I'm still new to racing and can relate to the thread. Besides the good advice carpediemracing had, i found that when I start losing my line (getting pushed out by the g-force) I quickly lower my shoulders/chest and it helps to hold my line.

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  21. #21
    My idea of fun kensuf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RJBTrek View Post
    I disagree with this! I was told the same thing and in my second CAT5 race I did just that. The problem was that it was a CAT5 race and the guy in front took a line that shot him into the curb. Lucky that the mailbox broke his fall otherwise he would have hit the grass. I hit the brakes hard, bumped the curb with my back tire but somehow stayed up. That was the last time I trusted that the guy in front knew what line to take.

    carpediemracing had a very good post. I'm still new to racing and can relate to the thread. Besides the good advice carpediemracing had, i found that when I start losing my line (getting pushed out by the g-force) I quickly lower my shoulders/chest and it helps to hold my line.
    Well obviously don't follow an idiot into a ditch, but if you're rubbing elbows in a turn you need to follow the line laid out in front of you or risk being "that guy".
    Putting the Duh in Floriduh.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RJBTrek View Post
    I disagree with this! I was told the same thing and in my second CAT5 race I did just that. The problem was that it was a CAT5 race and the guy in front took a line that shot him into the curb. Lucky that the mailbox broke his fall otherwise he would have hit the grass. I hit the brakes hard, bumped the curb with my back tire but somehow stayed up. That was the last time I trusted that the guy in front knew what line to take.

    carpediemracing had a very good post. I'm still new to racing and can relate to the thread. Besides the good advice carpediemracing had, i found that when I start losing my line (getting pushed out by the g-force) I quickly lower my shoulders/chest and it helps to hold my line.
    you should read rest of CDRs info about finding the "smooth" guy, then "agree" with following said smooth guy, and disregard the dumbass that you followed into a ditch.

  23. #23
    Making a kilometer blurry waterrockets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RJBTrek View Post
    carpediemracing had a very good post. I'm still new to racing and can relate to the thread. Besides the good advice carpediemracing had, i found that when I start losing my line (getting pushed out by the g-force) I quickly lower my shoulders/chest and it helps to hold my line.
    Another technique is to push forward a little harder on your inside handle bar. This will tighten your line up instantly. (countersteering)

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by brittle View Post
    ...I'm not as confident going through hard turns at speed as I'd like to be, but I've been working on it and getting better;...I have to trust everyone around to do the same ... I suspect (or rather, hope) that just being aware that this is the problem should go a long way towards solving it. We'll see this weekend, I guess. Many thanks for all the text. A big help, and very much appreciated.
    +1. Bingo.

    Confidence comes from practice and experience.

    Trust comes from knowing who you can trust and whose wheel to stay away from.

    You'll get it.

    Bob
    Be the Bike

  25. #25
    Geosynchronous Falconeer recursive's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mdnbike View Post
    The pics are interesting, (if enormous) but based on that rant at the end, that dude seriously needs a dose of HTFU. Sounds like junior high drama.
    Bring the pain.

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