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Road race cornering

Old 08-04-14, 06:08 PM
  #1  
echappist
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Road race cornering

I normally would consider myself above average when it comes to positioning and cornering. In crits, i don't really have too much issues, and when i really want to, i was also able to gap people as my 165mm cranks allow me pedal through corners.

It seems that the matter is different in a road race, and i often find myself pedalling hard for 5-8 seconds to close a gap. I wasnt too concerned about this previously as people around me are usually doing the same, but i have to wonder f there's something i could do to minimize the gap. This is especially concerning when there's quite a bit of breaking involved before the turn, usually when on a downhill stretch going 30+ and needing to turn more than 90 degrees.

Part of this may have to do with the cleaniness of the corners, as crit corners seem to be better swept whereas i often see quite a bit of dust on road race corners. I tend to get tentative and end up taking all sort of ugly lines through the turn. Also this isnt as much of an issue when i'm sitting top five. Anyways, perhaps i may not even be doing that much incorrectly, but i would appreciate suggestions.
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Old 08-04-14, 06:14 PM
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Maybe it's a mental thing? Crits being on totally closed circuits, just feel intrinsically a bit safer? Not to mention no worry about crossing the center line. I mention these things because struggling more with corners in road races than in crits is sort of an unusual problem. Could it be a acceleration by gravity thing as well? I'm better than your average Cat 3 in terms of raw cornering skill, but at 125 lbs, I can still end up gapped on a high-speed descent if I don't pay attention. But more corners reduce that problem for me, so that doesn't seem too relevant.
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Old 08-04-14, 06:40 PM
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specific corners or all? since we have done several of the same races, I would suspect it's more of an issue limited to specific corners in certain races rather than a bigger picture issue.

for instance, the turn at the bottom of the hill at Coppi, I did a front flip through that one a few years ago, I'm told it looked spectacular, but i've definitely taken it more cautiously since. at PV, if you're talking about the one on the descent after the finishing hill, that one is an off camber downhill, decreasing radius turn with gravel all over it. the other ones at PV are largely the same.

also, in a crit, you have like 30 + chances to get it down, in a RR you only have a few ... and a higher prob of a car/tractor/other vehicle staring you in the face when you get through it.
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Old 08-04-14, 07:21 PM
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sounds like mostly a mental thing. fear.

if these corners are taken at higher speeds then it makes sense. and like u said they may not be as we'll cleaned as a crit corner.

just gotta find that limit, without going past it.. good rule of thumb is if the guys in front of u are taking a line and not crashing, u can take it too. easier said than done at speed, of course..
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Old 08-04-14, 08:11 PM
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Cornering is my biggest problem. I had no confidence this weekend and just stayed at the back.
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Old 08-04-14, 09:10 PM
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in a crit you see the same corners 20+ times in a race. It would be hard to not get more comfortable with them. In a RR you might see them only once, so unless you know the road it's about what you're willing to gamble.
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Old 08-04-14, 09:11 PM
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It's about setting up. Not 100 meters before but as far as 1 km before a critical turn. To me a critical turn in a race is not the turn ( left or right ) that simply changes compass direction but the one that can be a make or break section. The corner coupled with a drastic elevation change or the one that exposes you to a tail or headwind. Or even a combination of all the above.

I think you are getting lagged because you are not reading the race as it evolves. long before a critical turn, there will be jockeying for position by certain riders. In the next few races, find out who they are, forget about racing and placing, spend a couple of races observing who does what and when. Once you have that knowledge with the race's particular terrain, you can then figure out who where and when to follow and more importantly when not to move and cover a move.
Always think of bike racing as a chess game on wheels. figuring out pawns from knights and kings is not always clear, but can be devastating if mistaken. Knowing the course is easy today. a few clicks of the mouse on a satellite view or hybrid view will reveal multiple factors that could not be illustrated correctly from just a printed hardcopy map.

You can't just go to every race and race it unprepared as to the road layout. As far as sand, suicidal squirrels, or any other thousand possibilities. don't think about it, it's irrelevant because it isn't a high percentage risk. Sort of like worrying about crashing all the time. Focusing on what could happen is a paradox, it will probably happen, simply because instead of staying in the moment of the race and responding to current changes, you are focusing on a possibility that probably will not occur. This will cause you to make mistakes, attempt to correct them in panic mode which then very likely results in crashing.
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Old 08-05-14, 05:07 AM
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Originally Posted by echappist View Post
I normally would consider myself above average when it comes to positioning and cornering. In crits, i don't really have too much issues, and when i really want to, i was also able to gap people as my 165mm cranks allow me pedal through corners.

It seems that the matter is different in a road race, and i often find myself pedalling hard for 5-8 seconds to close a gap. I wasnt too concerned about this previously as people around me are usually doing the same, but i have to wonder f there's something i could do to minimize the gap. This is especially concerning when there's quite a bit of braking involved before the turn, usually when on a downhill stretch going 30+ and needing to turn more than 90 degrees.

Part of this may have to do with the cleaniness of the corners, as crit corners seem to be better swept whereas i often see quite a bit of dust on road race corners. I tend to get tentative and end up taking all sort of ugly lines through the turn. Also this isnt as much of an issue when i'm sitting top five. Anyways, perhaps i may not even be doing that much incorrectly, but i would appreciate suggestions.
It may be that you're not doing anything wrong.

By definition it takes longer to get through a sharp, slow turn. For example in a typical crit corner, 90 degree, flat, you might have a maximum speed that's very similar to straightaway speed (28 vs 30 mph).

On a downhill, with a lot of braking (implying low cornering speed), more than 90 degrees, your maximum cornering speed might be 15 mph. However, on the following straight, with riders accelerating with gravity's assistance, the normal speed might be 40 mph. Even with gravity's help it'll take you some effort to get up to their speed. I'm thinking of my own experiences with switchbacks here. One of my former teammates, former leadout man, best man at wedding, and host of my many year SoCal training camp, followed me down Palomar. I waited for a minute after the first mile of descending. Yes, he was taking it a bit easier (I felt more comfortable pushing on unknown roads) but I could see in the rear cam (testing a GoPro) that he dropped back a substantial amount out of each turn. I was sprinting out of them, he wasn't.

I'm actually most tentative when leading through turns. When following others I feel most secure. The whole lemmings/penguin thing.
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Old 08-05-14, 05:12 AM
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I think just in general road race corners are much slower, because everyone is unfamiliar with them, and the pace itself is slower in road races. However, for whatever reason, it's always a full out sprint after each corner. One way I deal with it is always being on the outside of the corner as much as possible, they hold way more speed than the inside. But really if the speed of the group is slow, other than backing off a bit before the corner and going a bit faster through the corner (same thing you should do in a crit), you just kinda have the deal with the sprint after. Or get on the front and go the pace you want.
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Old 08-05-14, 05:52 AM
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Everybody thinks they're above average in this skill or that skill. Maybe they are, maybe they aren't. I think the comments so far have been pertinent. Cornering in crits is about maintaining momentum with a lot of real estate to play with. Cornering in road races is about finding momentum in tight quarters without causing a ruckus. That usually means anticipating and positioning early. Tight courses are a lot less forgiving.
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Old 08-05-14, 06:33 AM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by Moyene Corniche View Post
It's about setting up. Not 100 meters before but as far as 1 km before a critical turn. To me a critical turn in a race is not the turn ( left or right ) that simply changes compass direction but the one that can be a make or break section. The corner coupled with a drastic elevation change or the one that exposes you to a tail or headwind. Or even a combination of all the above.

I think you are getting lagged because you are not reading the race as it evolves. long before a critical turn, there will be jockeying for position by certain riders. In the next few races, find out who they are, forget about racing and placing, spend a couple of races observing who does what and when. Once you have that knowledge with the race's particular terrain, you can then figure out who where and when to follow and more importantly when not to move and cover a move.
Always think of bike racing as a chess game on wheels. figuring out pawns from knights and kings is not always clear, but can be devastating if mistaken. Knowing the course is easy today. a few clicks of the mouse on a satellite view or hybrid view will reveal multiple factors that could not be illustrated correctly from just a printed hardcopy map.

You can't just go to every race and race it unprepared as to the road layout. As far as sand, suicidal squirrels, or any other thousand possibilities. don't think about it, it's irrelevant because it isn't a high percentage risk. Sort of like worrying about crashing all the time. Focusing on what could happen is a paradox, it will probably happen, simply because instead of staying in the moment of the race and responding to current changes, you are focusing on a possibility that probably will not occur. This will cause you to make mistakes, attempt to correct them in panic mode which then very likely results in crashing.

I think this is key as well. If it is a major turn in the course, plan to be in the front! Like you said, if you are top 5 than the turn really isn't bad. Plus, while you might burn a match getting to the front, it is quite enjoyable to take a good line leading the pack knowing that the rest of the pack will be tailgunning to close the gap.

Generally, I also like taking the outside line if i am in the pack for momentum and an escape route if stuff goes down. Usually dirt,gravel is found right on the inside of the turn anyway. If stuck inside and midpack/towards back than I just draft the guy in front of me and pray

Same thing goes for descending. I used to HATE them in road races but once I moved to the front of the pack and generally OTF I found them much more enjoyable and again, I didn't mind burning a match because the pack was doing the same closing the gap.
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Old 08-05-14, 06:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
in a crit you see the same corners 20+ times in a race. It would be hard to not get more comfortable with them. In a RR you might see them only once, so unless you know the road it's about what you're willing to gamble.

This is why I always claim crits are safer than RRs.

I have had the experience of totally botching a turn on a 2-lap RR and having to make an effort afterwards, then finding the magic line the 2nd time around while everybody else was burning gas, just because I was ready for it and set up right. A friend who knew the course even told me beforehand to set up for that particular turn, but first time through it just came up too quick.

I think we do a lot of little, even subconscious things to set up for a familiar turn or feature, that you just can't do when it's all coming at you for the first time. Rock climbers make a distinction between on-sighting (getting it right the first time with no prior information), flashing (getting it right the first time, after somebody describes the route), and redpointing (getting it right after a bunch of roped practice). On-sighting takes a lot of concentration, skill, and cojones.
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Old 08-05-14, 07:03 AM
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chappy, more i think of it the more i think you're overanalyzing. good input in this thread, but specifically to you, i'm betting it's a combo of my and CDR's responses.
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Old 08-05-14, 07:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
in a crit you see the same corners 20+ times in a race. It would be hard to not get more comfortable with them. In a RR you might see them only once, so unless you know the road it's about what you're willing to gamble.
I think it's this, unless you're really familiar with the course at-speed.

Originally Posted by MDcatV View Post
at PV, if you're talking about the one on the descent after the finishing hill, that one is an off camber downhill, decreasing radius turn with gravel all over it. the other ones at PV are largely the same.
also the left before the final stair-step climb if you're really moving. I had the opportunity to take that solo a bunch, but tight left hand turns in road races sometimes make me nervous since cars appear occasionally if the marshals are not attentive or if there is a determined driver. my teammate almost ended up in the bucket of a front-loader on the exit of that sharp down hill right hander you were referring to having to go into the driveway to avoid him.

BTW - it was nice meeting you (echappist) at Page Valley. I had to help some teammates out with feeding and race prep for the noon races after mine was done, but i'll swing by for beers next time.

Last edited by sijray21; 08-05-14 at 07:19 AM.
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Old 08-05-14, 07:45 AM
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I agree with most of the points already made about crits giving you more practice at the turns compared to RRs. But something else to consider is the effect of the Yellow Line rule.

The Yellow Line rule in RRs often keeps people tighter together until very close to the turn. I've even seen some people try to not cross the yellow line going into a turn, or in lower category races, some racers don't know to cross the yellow line at a turn. As a result, racers in a RR often cannot take the fastest line around a turn, whereas on a closed crit course, they can. That can really slow down and elongate a field.

Also, around here at least, RR fields tend to be larger than crit fields.
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Old 08-05-14, 08:03 AM
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Originally Posted by topflightpro View Post
I agree with most of the points already made about crits giving you more practice at the turns compared to RRs. But something else to consider is the effect of the Yellow Line rule.

The Yellow Line rule in RRs often keeps people tighter together until very close to the turn. I've even seen some people try to not cross the yellow line going into a turn, or in lower category races, some racers don't know to cross the yellow line at a turn. As a result, racers in a RR often cannot take the fastest line around a turn, whereas on a closed crit course, they can. That can really slow down and elongate a field.

Also, around here at least, RR fields tend to be larger than crit fields.

I've been chastised for crossing the yellow line in a turn at a road race. My understanding is the rule is still enforced even in a sharp turn? It would make sense from a safety stand point with cars as well but maybe this motopacer was incorrect?
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Old 08-05-14, 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by thechemist View Post
I've been chastised for crossing the yellow line in a turn at a road race. My understanding is the rule is still enforced even in a sharp turn? It would make sense from a safety stand point with cars as well but maybe this motopacer was incorrect?
In some races they'll say "50 meters on either end you can go over the yellow line" or they'll put a cone on the yellow line to delineate where you can cross it (and where you need to get back over). If they don't say that then the implied rule is that the yellow line rule always applies.

Of course I haven't done a proper RR in ages so I have no idea if this happens anymore.

Motorefs do have the right to exercise judgment. For example if you swing out to avoid a crash and don't cause any problems in doing so then you had a legitimate excuse to cross the yellow line. On the other hand if you take every corner on the left side of the road, cross the yellow line, and improve position, then the motoref may/will call you on it.
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Old 08-05-14, 08:34 AM
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i dont think i've ever done a RR where we didnt use both lanes in the turns. although like sjray mentions, on Saturday on a turn there was a guy in my race (maybe his teammate) that was staring the bucket of a john deer front end loader in the face on the exit of the turn and had to go cyclocross to avoid it. funny enough, at that point of the race, it was ON with a significant attack going out of that turn and into the next one, the 4 of us at the front sat up for the guy to get back on. sort of.
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Old 08-05-14, 09:44 AM
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Good points above.

If you're not near the front of the pack, but approaching a crowded corner, you can gap the riders in front of you about 100m from the corner (depends) and then flow through it at a normal speed. You'll catch back up on the exit, without burning the acceleration energy.

This is a good demonstration of what's happening with the crowding (magenta lines represent speed):
Queuing steering behavior

Originally Posted by mattm View Post
good rule of thumb is if the guys in front of u are taking a line and not crashing, u can take it too
Very true, I use that line of thinking often. Racer Ex has a good story about following Eddie Lawson through a corner on this premise
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Old 08-05-14, 12:36 PM
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The yellow line rule applies everywhere unless instructed otherwise. If you advance over the line you can be relegated or DSQ. Remember the blue shirts are in the cars for a reason and this is reason #1 .
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Old 08-05-14, 01:26 PM
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There's a possibility your braking isn't optimal. If you start braking too soon the gap will open up and even if your final speed through the corner and that of the person ahead of you wind up being the same the fact that you started scrubbing speed sooner will let those ahead get even further ahead.

Find somewhere to practice late braking. Wait as long as possible before applying the brakes and then hit them as hard as possible without losing control of your bike and try to have most of your deceleration done before turning in. Staying on the brakes while turning tends to make the bike want to stand up and also mkes the tires do more work than if they just have to hold you through the turn.

Theres a big difference between most crits where you can pedal through at full speed or near it and slow corners which have been approached at high speed. Both are acquired skills and any weakness can be addressed with practice.

Last edited by CharlyAlfaRomeo; 08-05-14 at 02:18 PM.
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Old 08-05-14, 02:07 PM
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Thanks to all for the suggestions. Definitely something for me to ponder for next year.

Originally Posted by sijray21 View Post
BTW - it was nice meeting you (echappist) at Page Valley. I had to help some teammates out with feeding and race prep for the noon races after mine was done, but i'll swing by for beers next time.
same here; nice to have met you. I look forward to you tearing it up in the crits next year. Also, MDCatV and I will be going to the masochistic ritual known as a 40k ITT, so if that's up your alley...
Originally Posted by MDcatV View Post
chappy, more i think of it the more i think you're overanalyzing. good input in this thread, but specifically to you, i'm betting it's a combo of my and CDR's responses.
yeah, quite a few good points raised that i need consider
Originally Posted by shovelhd View Post
Everybody thinks they're above average in this skill or that skill. Maybe they are, maybe they aren't. I think the comments so far have been pertinent. Cornering in crits is about maintaining momentum with a lot of real estate to play with. Cornering in road races is about finding momentum in tight quarters without causing a ruckus. That usually means anticipating and positioning early. Tight courses are a lot less forgiving.
yeah. just occurred to me that if i'm doing 350-400W for 20 seconds after a turn, i might as well expend a bit more going in and make others do the 20 seconds of chasing. It also occurred to me that everyone, even the winner of my race, are doing the hard efforts after corners.
Originally Posted by waterrockets View Post
Good points above.

If you're not near the front of the pack, but approaching a crowded corner, you can gap the riders in front of you about 100m from the corner (depends) and then flow through it at a normal speed. You'll catch back up on the exit, without burning the acceleration energy.

This is a good demonstration of what's happening with the crowding (magenta lines represent speed):
Queuing steering behavior



Very true, I use that line of thinking often. Racer Ex has a good story about following Eddie Lawson through a corner on this premise
Never thought of the tail-gunning strategy for road race, but i'll keep this in mind. I definitely do better when i can pedal through a turn.
Originally Posted by Moyene Corniche View Post
It's about setting up. Not 100 meters before but as far as 1 km before a critical turn. To me a critical turn in a race is not the turn ( left or right ) that simply changes compass direction but the one that can be a make or break section. The corner coupled with a drastic elevation change or the one that exposes you to a tail or headwind. Or even a combination of all the above.
I think that's a good takeaway from this. I actually am quite keen on corners, course profiles, and rider backgrounds, so i don't think that's the issue. But the mad dash to get into better position for a corner, that i really haven't paid much attention to in the past, and at the cat-3 level, not many are actually doing it anyway.
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Old 08-05-14, 02:20 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by CharlyAlfaRomeo View Post
There's a possibility your braking isn't optimal. If you start braking too soon the gap will open up and even if your final speed through the corner and that of the person ahead of you wind up being the same the fact that you started scrubbing speed sooner will let those ahead get even further ahead.

Find somewhere to practice late braking. Wait as long as possible before applying the brakes and then hit them as hard as possible without losing control of your bike and try to have most of your deceleration done before turning in. Staying on the brakes while turning tends to make the bike want to stand up and also mkes the tires do more work than if they just have to hold you through the turn.

Theres a big difference between most crit for era where you can pedal through at full speed or near it and slow corners which have been approached at high speed. Both are acquired skills and any weakness can be addressed with practice.
Two points of disagreement here. First, the amount of braking required for a turn in a road race is often not really up to the individual.

Second, as has been discussed many times in the 33, braking during turn-in ("trail braking") is not only acceptable, it is the best technique to maximize speed through a turn.

In any case, I'm not sure that cornering technique per se is really Chappy's problem.
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Old 08-05-14, 02:37 PM
  #24  
CharlyAlfaRomeo
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Originally Posted by grolby View Post
the amount of braking required for a turn in a road race is often not really up to the individual.
The amount of braking is not an option but the distance it's achieved is. All other things being equal if it takes me 50' to brake from 30 mph to 15 and it takes you 75' I should be able to beat you through the turn provided I start braking after you do.

On the topic of trail braking I don't know people here that well and didn't want to complicate things. For someone who thinks they're having trouble with specific types of corners I didn't want to add any more variables to the equation.

I must say that I don't trail brake much on my bicycle but it's the only way to fly when I'm flogging my SV650!
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Old 08-05-14, 02:55 PM
  #25  
mattm
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Never heard of trail braking - if I understand it it means braking coming into the turn, and while turning?

Seems like not braking is the best way to maximize speed through a turn to me...
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