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Help me with drills to corner better

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Help me with drills to corner better

Old 10-15-15, 11:32 AM
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Scotia_Cyclist
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Help me with drills to corner better

I raced last weekend got it handed to me pretty bad even with a 2nd row start there were a number of factors that made it unsuccessful

first being I am way out of shape

2nd I'm not sue to starts that are that fast... it was a long straight away and we were flying into the first corner then it compressed hard

third I don't think I was cornering well.

I can't really fix number 1 right now but I want to get better at cornering... and I think I will get better at the starts after a few races.

but tips can you recommend for twisty courses... we were doing several turns back to back and I was not carrying my speed well.

should I be "sprinting out of every" turn ?
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Old 10-15-15, 11:02 PM
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In terms of picking lines, maybe google some stuff about the racing line for cars. Early apex--never good, late apex--safe/conservative, "normal" apex--great if you can grab it.

"Slow in, fast out" works great in a car, but it might be trickier on a bike.

Just some thoughts. I'm not a fast enough CX'er to have much concrete advice for you.
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Old 10-16-15, 07:12 AM
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Originally Posted by gamby View Post
In terms of picking lines, maybe google some stuff about the racing line for cars. Early apex--never good, late apex--safe/conservative, "normal" apex--great if you can grab it.

"Slow in, fast out" works great in a car, but it might be trickier on a bike.

Just some thoughts. I'm not a fast enough CX'er to have much concrete advice for you.
The principles of picking lines in a car vs. on a bike are essentially the same, but the application will necessarily be different. Cars have huge amounts of power available on demand. You, on a bike, do not. Which is why a late apex is a common approach in a car - you can get on the gas sooner on the way out of the corner. On a bike, though, exit speed is key, and the more speed you scrub on the way in, the slower you're going to go through the corner. Which is why a "normal" apex is, theoretically, the fastest.

Okay, that said, the reality is that it is very hard to get better at cornering by reading about it, especially off-road on a bike. If you ask around, you are sure to hear the standard wisdom of cyclocross cornering: "tape to tape." What that means is, the fastest line through a turn is to start on the outside, clip off the apex, and take your exit as wide as possible. And that's a good starting point if you didn't already know that, but I know plenty of people who can recite "tape to tape" who are nonetheless not very fast through corners. Hmmm. It's like there's more to it than that.

I can give a few bits of advice that may or may not be helpful. As far as my own experience/ability, going around corners fast is my "thing." Most of the other fast Cat 3s in New England have more raw power than I do, and a lot of how I hang with them or beat them is by cornering faster. So hopefully that makes me reasonably qualified to make a few points.

First, tire selection and tire pressure matter a LOT. The lower you can get your tire pressure, the better your traction, and you will feel the difference. This is why tubulars have such an edge in performance, but you can go lower than you might expect with clinchers or tubeless. If you're nervous or not as confident in your bike handling skill, start by just reducing pressure in the front tire, it's the most important one for traction and easier to unweight for roots or rocks so you don't pinch flat.

Second, don't corner like a robot. Just because the conventional wisdom is "tape to tape" and because there's a line burned in by previous race doesn't mean those are the best ways through a turn. Riding off-road adds a lot of variables to line choice. The "best" line might be really soft, or slippery, and there may be more traction on the outside line, for example. Or a corner might decrease in radius as you go around, and the fast line might require some experimentation. So experiment during your pre-race course inspection and pre-ride! The goal of pre-riding the track is not (just) to warm up, and not to zoom past everyone else, it's to try all the different corners and features and if you aren't sure that you know the best way through one of them, duck under the tape, go back and ride it again with a different line or approach until you think you know how you want to race it. Don't be afraid to change your approach during the race, either, if what you've been doing doesn't seem to be working.

Third, your front wheel is what holds you to the ground on fast corners and so you want to be sure that it is planted. This is essential for railing fast off-camber turns, down a hillside. To really fly through turns like this, you need to commit to digging your front wheel into the ground. This can be scary, because it means you are leaning down the hill rather than back away from it. But it actually gives you much better control. If you want to use a tripod here, which I often do, you should feel like you are swinging that leg forward to get more weight on that front wheel.

Fourth, there are so many more things to consider, this doesn't even scratch the surface. Part of the challenge here is that there is an element of natural talent involved. Anyone can get better at going through turns, even a lot better. Just as anyone can get stronger and faster. But some people naturally just have greater aerobic potential, and some people just have brains that are good at going through turns fast. In both cases, it is wise to know that you have some limitations, and wise not to fear them or convince yourself that you cannot improve.

I think my strongest recommendation is to ride with people who are better at cornering than you, watch what they do and ride behind them in corners. Try to see what they are doing differently and try to stick with them when they're going fast. And just keep doing that. The other way in which cornering ability is like aerobic fitness is that you can't improve it by reading about it. You have to put in the work. Lots of work. Just like anything else.

I hope this was helpful.
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Old 10-16-15, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by grolby View Post
I hope this was helpful.
Jeez--it was more helpful than me!

Yeah, the front wheel dictates a lot of it. While I was learning to handle my cross bike, the times I ate it were when I turned in too abruptly and the front wheel washed out. Smooth is your friend--especially on grass.

Also, like a car, get used to the idea of "setting into" the corner. Turn in, establish your lean and traction, then gun it. Usually, the "gun it" part coincides with the apex.
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Old 10-16-15, 03:02 PM
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thanks for all the suggestions

I decided to race at casco this weekend so hopefully I can get on a few faster wheels during the warm up and watch

during my warm up last week I wasn't on wheels that were faster so it was tougher to see how stronger racers were corners.

hopefully I can get a lap in with the upper categories if allowed early.
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Old 10-16-15, 08:37 PM
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Originally Posted by gamby View Post
Jeez--it was more helpful than me!

Yeah, the front wheel dictates a lot of it. While I was learning to handle my cross bike, the times I ate it were when I turned in too abruptly and the front wheel washed out. Smooth is your friend--especially on grass.

Also, like a car, get used to the idea of "setting into" the corner. Turn in, establish your lean and traction, then gun it. Usually, the "gun it" part coincides with the apex.
Yeah. I should note, there are always exceptions - for example, on sand or soft stuff, too much front wheel pressure can cause it to dig in and that can cause really weird behavior or even crash you. It's a complex environment and you need to consider different approaches for different situations.
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