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  1. #1
    Arschgaudi Mayonnaise's Avatar
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    Cross Technique: Turning

    Seems I'm slowing too much in the turns.

    During a race or cross practice I'll ride steadily with a given rider, as we enter into a series of turns (around 2 or 3 trees turning 180 degrees, for instance) he'll gain ground on me that causes me to sprint after we exit the turn to catch back up. In this case I don't think it's an issue of power but one of technique.

    I generally enter the turn just right, not too hot but not so slow either. I can get to the apex of the turn reasonably well and with confidence.

    It's the second half of the turn, the exit, where I slow too much and see the rider ahead gaining ground.

    During the second half of the turn I feel the front tire begin to washout just a bit so I will counter then brake a bit to keep from going down. Generally the ground is loose which causes fear which causes braking.

    I know fear plays a certain part but I've got enough experience and gone down enough that I'm not afraid to push it as close to going down as I have to in order to go fast.

    I think my technique needs improvement. I may be braking at the wrong time or not have my center of gravity in the right place. Not sure what slows me down and hate burning a match just to stay with the guy right in front of me, or worse get passed because someone negotiated the turns better than I did.

    Any advice would be welcomed.
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  2. #2
    bf is my facebook. ljrichar's Avatar
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    The person you are following is most likely pedaling out of the turn if not during it.

  3. #3
    Team Beer Cynikal's Avatar
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    Upon reading your post my first thought was to ask if you are pedaling through the turn or coasting. You also didn't mention the type of surface, grass or dirt. Both require unique methods of turning. With grass there is more traction so you can lean the bike more but on dirt, especially loose dirt, you turn more with the the bars and stay upright.

    Also, try riding on the tops of the bars through the turns. This will keep your hands off the brakes thus removing the temptation.

    If you can, do some test laps when the A racers are testing out the course and watch them.
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  4. #4
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    I've got trouble with this too. I think my problem is mostly lack of confidence. I'll tell you what I know and see if any of it helps you. Some of this might be elementary. Some of it might be wrong. Anyone who knows, please speak up for or against.

    1. ljrichar is definitely right about pedaling through turns. It helps a lot with traction.

    2. Look where you want to go. Here's what seems to work best for me. As I approach the turn, I focus squarely on the apex. Just as my front tire is passing the apex, I shift my focus to the center of the exit.

    3. Lean with your body. If traction is good, of course, you can lean the bike and make a nice, tight turn, but if traction is sketchy you can achieve a similar effect by leaning your body and keeping the bike more upright. This reduces lateral force on the tires and helps avoid a wash-out. (Hat tip to icebike.com on this one.) I've been experimenting with pointing my inside shoulder at the apex, and that seems to help.

    4. Don't even think about using the front brake. (You probably already know that.)

    5. It's not always a bad thing to have the back tire lose traction. A properly timed handful of rear brake (right around the apex) can get the rear tire to break loose and slide around the turn. Couple this with a good burst of power when the bike is facing the right direction and Bob's your uncle.


    Number 4 is my big weakness. I've actually thought about racing with my front brake completely disconnected because I have such a hard time forcing myself not to hit the front brake when I feel like I'm going too fast in a turn. Of course, that would make entering the turn at a good speed a lot more tricky. I've managed to do number 5 accidentally a few times but haven't got it to the point of being able to do it on purpose.

    Beyond that, practice, practice, practice:


  5. #5
    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    Beyond what has already been said:

    - Get used to falling so that you're not scared any more. The ground is soft. Wear a skate style helmet - the type that can take multiple impacts - and pick your ground. BMX pin pedals instead of clipless might help a lot. Then when the fear is gone you can experiment.

    - Maybe your bike needs more grip - better tyres or the same ones run at lower pressure.

    During the second half of the turn I feel the front tire begin to washout just a bit so I will counter then brake a bit to keep from going down.
    Braking uses up grip. If you were really on the edge of losing traction then braking would probably wash you out. A better solution might be to add some extra steer, a bit of lean, and even some gas at this point. Using the back brake to deliberately skid the rear wheel might help you into the right line.

    Generally the ground is loose which causes fear which causes braking.
    "Fear leads to braking. Braking leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering..."
    Last edited by meanwhile; 09-24-10 at 03:20 PM.

  6. #6
    Team Beer Cynikal's Avatar
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    "Fear leads to braking. Braking leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering..."

    I'm going to tape this to my stem for the next race.
    I'm not one for fawning over bicycles, but I do believe that our bikes communicate with us, and what this bike is saying is, "You're an idiot." BikeSnobNYC

  7. #7
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    the best way to work on not braking in a turn is to be sure you're speed is properly under control before entering the turn. once your handlebars begin the turn you should be pedaling like crazy, no brakes. when you get comfortable with that you can brake later and use some rear brakes to rotate the back end if needed

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    i found that not having enough weight forward over the bars hurt me and made me wash out on corners. I moved my seat down and back a little bit while adjusting fit, found that i was washing out on corners... dropped the bars 0.5 to 1 cm, and made an improvement.

    YMMV

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    Find a park or someplace that you can make a small course just to practice tight cornering. If there are multiple surfaces (dirt, gravel, grass), that's even better. Find and get familiar with how much speed, leaning of the bike, etc is TOO much by allowing yourself to wash out at least a few times. Once you know what it really feels like to lose all traction, you'll have a better idea of how you want to enter and exit a particular corner.

  10. #10
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    I've got to work on this too. I've noticed two big issues on my end. One is braking - I just don't have any feel for it yet and I'm still getting my brakes adjusted for cross. I don't have as much braking power as I'm accustomed to on my road bikes, and I'm just not getting the timing down so I'm done braking before entering the turn.

    Second is leaning and weight distribution. I'm not carrying the type of speed I'm used to on the road so I'm still not getting my weight and center of gravity in the right spots.

    Had my first race this past weekend on a course with lots of tight turns. It became very clear to me that both my technique and my confidence need some work.

  11. #11
    Senior Member sabazel's Avatar
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    This thread is awesome, because i just did my first practice race/race/practice session tonight and WOW did I wipe out. A lot. The course had everything: tight singletrack with roots (and logs right around a tight corner), sand, uphill tight turns and downhill tight turns, barriers... I did two laps before deciding I need more solo experience before doing something that technical. Namely some local singletrack (that was my first ever singletrack experience) and just letting myself fall down over and over and over. These cornering tips are going to help!
    "What is a Tiagra? Is that like a Liger?"

  12. #12
    Riding like its 1990 thenomad's Avatar
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    toe overlap was hurting me in my first race with some tight hairpins. I was trying to get the power down through and exiting the turn but they were tight so I'd pop my toe into the tire. I never went down but it causes a hesitation and upsets the balance momentarily. Should i have just coasted through and pedaled after the wheel can straighten a little?

    Also, looking ahead, further ahead, was important. If you're looking at the sand patch or caution tape you are trying to avoid you'll go right to it. Gotta look around the corner and down the straight where you want to be. Your body will follow your head.
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  13. #13
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    Toe overlaps happens. At least, it happens to me. It doesn't seem to be a huge problem, though. I'm not really sure what I do about it. I think my mind makes sub-conscious adjustments. Don't let it stop you from pedalling through. The little hesistation when your toe hits the tire won't slow you down as much as coasting through the turn would, I don't think.

  14. #14
    3 seconds ColorChange's Avatar
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    OP, just be sure you aren't early apexing. This will cause you to feel fast at the apex but unable to finish the turn as you get spit out too wide at the end of the turn. This is extremely common in CX. If anything, late apex so that you can get back on the power early, rather than having to get off the power or even brake to finish the turn because you're being thrown too wide on the exit.

    It also helps if you can initiate the turn strongly, this way you have much of the turn done early. Many riders just ease into the turn wasting valuable turning radius. If you are able to turn in strong, you should finish slightly inside the "racing line" near and after the apex as most riders early apex (and therefore go wide). This means you get better traction at the apex and on exit.

  15. #15
    Overacting because I can SpongeDad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ColorChange View Post
    OP, just be sure you aren't early apexing. This will cause you to feel fast at the apex but unable to finish the turn as you get spit out too wide at the end of the turn. This is extremely common in CX. If anything, late apex so that you can get back on the power early, rather than having to get off the power or even brake to finish the turn because you're being thrown too wide on the exit.

    It also helps if you can initiate the turn strongly, this way you have much of the turn done early. Many riders just ease into the turn wasting valuable turning radius. If you are able to turn in strong, you should finish slightly inside the "racing line" near and after the apex as most riders early apex (and therefore go wide). This means you get better traction at the apex and on exit.
    Could you explain this a bit more - this sounds like me, but I'm not quite sure what you mean by early apex.
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  16. #16
    Riding like its 1990 thenomad's Avatar
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    I've done a good bit of SCCA autocross racing so the apex issue is cemented in my mind. I don't have good apex in cross racing yet because I have not gotten a feel for the amount of grip available on loose surfaces (ie need more experience offroad).

    Here's a pic I found with all three apex options:
    (IGNORE the naming of the "correct" apex; it is only "correct" in a few instances. They should be named early, geometric and late apex points.)



    As you can see, the early apex leaves you scrambling to stay on track on the following straight.
    The geometric apex can be used a lot, but IF you go in too fast you end up in the same spot as the early apex.
    The late apex makes you slow earlier but you've effectively made the straight much longer, allowing you to apply power earlier and therefore pass the opponent who is still turning and therefore not applying power.

    Caveat: If you have a single speed or are not so strong in a straight line, you need to maintain momentum so use the geometric apex if you have a feel for grip. If you are really strong in a straight line then get your turning done early to maximize your straight sprint out of the corner.

    I have such weak skills that I'm still just trying to ride around the corners any way I can.
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  17. #17
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    I saw that picture. I'm just not sure I know how to translate the concept into a 180 degree turn.

  18. #18
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    A method that I find to work quite well is to countersteer just before the turn. For instance, if you are entering a right turn, line up in the center, steer to your left, then immediately steer right to enter the turn at a sharper angle. This is the technique used by criterium racers, it allows to set up for the corner late, and gives you more options for choosing your line after you apex, rather then just spitting you out wide. Just make sure to check over your shoulder so you don't countersteer directly into another rider.
    The best example of countersteering is to watch how a moto GP racer approaches a turn, you'll see what I mean

  19. #19
    Riding like its 1990 thenomad's Avatar
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    a 180 leading into a straight looks the same, you just stay on the outside till you can late apex at about 1 o'clock on the dial. If it leads out into another turn then you need to choose whatever apex sets you up for the best line into the last turn.
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  20. #20
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    In motorcycle racing, a late apex is used to go in a straight line longer. The corner is sharper, but more importantly, shorter. When you are going in a straight line, you can brake harder and accelerate harder, which ultimately saves time. I don't race bicycles, but I imagine the same logic is behind the later apex suggestion.

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