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Old 10-25-16, 08:58 AM   #1
JeffOYB
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Any cornering tricks?

I think I'm braking too much going in to nice dry grassy tight turns (180's, etc). It also feels like I often still run out of room. Even so sometimes my front washes out.

I want to fix this!

Any tricks or tips?

I wonder if I try going in to turns in my drops if that might help.

Does the front generally wash out from NOT ENOUGH weight on it? Maybe Intermediates like me worry too much about weight-forward and end up weight-back and that causes wash-out?

Sometimes I also feel like I "stub" my front wheel. Not good.

I did try looking at the exit -- that seemed to help.

I'm wondering if as a test I could somehow push it to the point where my REAR is washing out. If I could get my front solid enough that I have to worry about the rear, that would be good, it seems. Who knows.

The Pro-Am winner of last weekend's race looked so smooth! He wasn't a skeletal roadie who looked extreme in any way. Just a medium build medium tall even semi-stocky dude w fairly high close bars. He hardly seemed to be trying!
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Old 10-25-16, 10:44 AM   #2
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Your front wheel is your rudder. Traction is limited on cyclocross tires. More weight is more traction. The mistake a lot of people make is trying to stay off the front wheel. A lot of the time, you need to be leaning hard on that front wheel. You want it to dig in. This can be scary if conditions are loose or slippery, because if you're going fast your front wheel is going to be doing things. But that's something you have to learn how to deal with. But more weight doesn't make losing your front wheel more likely, it makes it LESS likely.

That doesn't mean you should just always be on your front wheel all the time, but when traction in turns is the problem, that's part of the answer. On the other hand, traction can also be a problem for power. This is an issue in mud. You're going to be back and forth between not enough traction on the front, when turning, and not enough traction on the rear, powering up a greasy hill.

All of this informs other decisions you make to improve your control and handling. Take pulling out a tripod, for example. The number one mistake I see people make when unclipping a foot on a tricky turn or off-camber is dangling it somewhere behind them. This is basically useless. Your unclipped foot needs to be held FORWARD, at the very least in front of your knee. The faster you're moving, generally, the further forward you need to be. Two reasons for this. First, as we've covered, more weight on your front wheel gives you more control. Swinging your leg forward means you're weighting your front wheel more. This is key on a fast, downhill off-camber turn, for example. Second, if you DO slip, having your foot forward means you're in position to catch yourself and push off instead of just crashing. If your foot is dangling somewhere around where your hip is, or even behind it, you can't do this. People instinctively sense the lack of security when doing this, and end up not really gaining any speed from the tripod when they do it incorrectly in this fashion. Which is contrary to the entire point of unclipping.

Other things to consider: it's not just about traction and weight balance. And it's not just about picking the geometric best line, either. You've probably heard of the concept of turning tape-to-tape (to tape), or outside-inside-outside. I'm here to tell you that this is Cornering 101. It's important to understand this concept of finding the geometric best line, but it's only the beginning. Remember, traction is your limiting factor in cyclocross. Cornering 101 assumes relatively equal amounts of traction on all available lines. This assumption is frequently violated, especially on loose or muddy courses and especially if the most popular line has been blown out by the sheer number of racers taking it. Sometimes it's still the best option. Sometimes it's faster to think outside the box a bit and go somewhere else. If it's a muddy day, finding the grass around the outside of the turn might well be the fastest option, even though it's by far the longest line. Why? Because you get way better traction on grass than on the mud that's replaced that grass on the line most people are taking. So you can maintain most of the speed you would on a dry day, instead of tiptoeing around the corner. You also avoid turning your front wheel as much. And the more you turn your front wheel, the more you have to slow down, because a turned front wheel is more challenged for traction. Which is your most limiting factor.

So there's no special trick. There's no secret sauce. It's not like there's this one thing you can start doing that will flip the switch. Good bike driving happens basically 100% in your brain. The number one thing you can do is stop looking for an algorithm that will help you become a better CorneringBot. What separates the good bike drivers from the mediocre ones is the good ones are constantly analyzing the track, into a corner or feature and out of a corner or feature, every single second of every single lap. Where can I find traction? How can I approach this corner to minimize or eliminate the amount of turning I have to do on the sand/mud/dust in the apex of this turn? Maybe I should ride the outside line on these turns, there's more grass there. The inside of this fast turn is really bouncy, even though it's theoretically the fastest line to cut the inside maybe I should see if there's room on the exit of this turn to apex more in the middle of the track and carry more speed that way. And so on. This is a major element of what course inspection is for, but you need to stay on top of it as conditions change through the race. The more naturally-talented bike handlers do this more or less instinctively, but anyone can learn to do it better.
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Old 10-25-16, 12:14 PM   #3
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are you pedaling through the tight turns? You should be braking and pedaling at the same time. Pedaling adds traction.
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Old 10-25-16, 02:18 PM   #4
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Thanks for the thoughts, GROLBY. I'll give em a try! ...Weight the front.
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Old 10-25-16, 05:46 PM   #5
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I drill with a bunch of people who range from UCI pro's all the way down. Everyone drops knowledge. Here are a few things that have clicked with me. One of the first things is you need to find your limits. Continue to drill turns in the field until you're rubber up. Even though it sounds like your tires are starting to cut loose, it may not be the case. Let that grass ripping sound become normal. When someone in our group goes down the comment that everyone makes is "THAT's finding your limits!". That positive reinforcement makes it easier to go down repeatedly.

It was once demonstrated that you can corner a turn with only your inside hand on the bar and only your outside foot clipped and under your body (not tri-podding) AND at speed. It seems that when turning correctly, your front wheel wants to turn in. HARD. If you're pushing forward with your inside hand keeping the front wheel from folding in, it's easier to guide your steering through the turn. So, weight on the outside pedal, pushing forward on your inside hand while guiding and leaning into the turn.

There is also the concept of counter-steer. It's best if I leave this to JPow:

http://www.cxhairs.com/wp-content/up...eCornering.pdf

Unlike road riding your weight is not always anchored to the saddle. There are many times that it's preferable to float over the saddle. This happens a lot in turns. If you let the bike float under your body while in the turn it tracks better, especially in off camber turns, but I find it pretty impressive in flat sections as well. Here's a guy who took it to the next level:


I try to doing speed checking while I set up the turn and going brake free through the turn. It took more than a few pre-laps to understand the course, but the turns are solid. This works well in off-cambers. Often the bike will wash out because of braking in the turn. Trust in your technique and gear makes for a more solid turn.
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Old 10-26-16, 06:45 AM   #6
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Thanks!
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Old 10-26-16, 12:57 PM   #7
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Good stuff in this thread.
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