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cornering hesitation nearly got my ass killed.

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cornering hesitation nearly got my ass killed.

Old 04-16-07, 11:00 AM
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thrip_jackson
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cornering hesitation nearly got my ass killed.

as often as i can i've been doing a saturday group training ride that consists mostly of cat 4s. these guys are typically faster, stronger and more experienced than i, but i've been able to mostly keep up without embarrassing myself. when i make a dumb newbie mistake (e.g. miss the memo that we're forming a rotating paceline), the guys are usually polite about setting me straight, but my mishap on saturday really took the cake (and nearly my life). we were in the midst of a howling descent that's followed by a hard right. everybody in the pack went way wide on the descent (into the oncoming traffic lane) in order to take it at max speed. i've been working on cornering at high speed alone and know enough to take the inside line as close to the apex as is reasonable, but at the last second i hesitated thinking that i was going to be cutting off someone behind me. that hesitation had me taking the turn wide and landing in the wrong lane, face to face with an oncoming car (a bmw no less). still have no idea how i stopped without wrecking (when i came to a halt my hand was on the car's hood). so, i successfully mortified the rest of the group, had my life flash before my eyes, looked like a ******bag and then had to get myself together and jump back on the pack before they disappeared (they did slow down, but not much). so, there's a question here, i swear:

when cornering in general, any rider behind me should be expecting me to cut in towards the apex of the corner and adjust accordingly, right? if so my fear of cutting off the guys behind me was unfounded, right? or am i just fundamentally thinking about all this the wrong way? should i take up running instead? have done this ride a bunch of times with no trouble, but now i'm really rattled...
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Old 04-16-07, 11:34 AM
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You come inches from a head on collision with a car while going down a huge descent and your 'group' barely slowed down for you?....hmmmm

The rider behind you ought to expect to take the same line as you. If you go into the turn wide (so you can hit the apex harder) and he sneaks up the inside...that'd be bad but he ought to take the same line as you i'd think.
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Old 04-16-07, 11:35 AM
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In a group I try to hold my line unless I'm sure I'm clear. That means allowing for some overlap by a guy inside and outside. Trailing into a corner I make sure to announce any overlap.

IMO it's incumbent on the trailing man to either stay clear or make his presence known, so for all intents and purposes, unless you do something radically different that the others, you're free to take it as you want. Might not be the best practice, though.

[I] know enough to take the inside line as close to the apex as is reasonable,
True, but where is that apex? There is no fixed apex on a corner - it can be early or late, or right in the middle. Where you turn in, where you hit the apex, and your exit line are all heavily influenced by your braking, and that is heavily influenced by how fast you think you can take the corner, and by the actions of the guys in front of you. You will find a lot more about cornering automobiles than bikes, but the theories are the same.

Where there is traffic, corner more conservatively. Don't look for the fastest way through. (You can and should, however, practice cornering technique at even a slow speed. Muscle memory will beat conscious thought most days of the week.)
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Old 04-16-07, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by thrip_jackson
when cornering in general, any rider behind me should be expecting me to cut in towards the apex of the corner and adjust accordingly, right? if so my fear of cutting off the guys behind me was unfounded, right? or am i just fundamentally thinking about all this the wrong way? should i take up running instead? have done this ride a bunch of times with no trouble, but now i'm really rattled...
The guy behind you is responsible for his own riding and watching out for himself and YOU. As in not running into you. So he does this by keeping an eye on you, the riders ahead and the road and riding within his reaction time. You just have to ride in a predictable way, which means you need to be keeping an eye on the guys ahead of you and the road and following them around the corners. If the guy ahead of you made it around the corner, so can you on his path, so follow him precisely. That's the best thing you can do for the guys behind you, be predictable. Don't worry about it too much, you learned something new. Have fun the next time.

BTW - I usually take a quick look back when setting up for a corner to see where people are behind me. If there are guys coming up on you fast, you can signal that you're slowing down, so they can adjust accordingly so you won't find them running you over in mid-corner.

Last edited by DannoXYZ; 04-16-07 at 11:44 AM.
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Old 04-16-07, 11:47 AM
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Very well put DannoXYZ.

Follow the guy in front of you but keep an eye ahead of him so you can see what's coming up and don't blindly follow him. He can make a dumb move and you could follow right along behind him. The guy behind you should protect his wheel and not overlap if he can help it.

When descending at speed I sometimes take a quick peek behind me just to see how close and where the other riders are.

Keep riding with faster/better guys. It can be intimidating for a bit but you will improve and learn a lot. I speak from experience.
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Old 04-16-07, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
If the guy ahead of you made it around the corner, so can you on his path, so follow him precisely.
This piece of advice is going to help you in several ways: 1) you indicated the guys you're riding with are more expereinced, so you should be able to learn by example following their line, 2) it acomplishes the goal of being predictable; if you're following the same line, you're not likely going to be making a move unexpected by the poeple behind you. 3) it will give you some confidence because they made it ok.

Couple of other points: 1) Spread out on the descent; you don't need to be that close descending to keep up, a lot safer and you won't have to worry about overlapping a guy just behind you, 2) Descend in a manner you can always stay in your lane (particularly exiting turns) a couple of mph faster down the hill is not worth becoming the bug on the windshield. 3) learn how to turn by countersteering and pushing the bike over; that allows you to change your line as needed in the turn, and in this case might have allowed you to tighten your line when you saw the BMW, even after your intial hesitation.
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Old 04-16-07, 11:59 AM
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At the same time, the entire group crossing over into oncoming traffic to set-up for the righthander seems a bit excessive for public roadways. It might work in a group of four riders who all know each other very well, but I don't know if it can successfully scale to twenty-five people, for example. Hopefully nobody else crashed due to this miscommunication. I'm in complete agreement with the notion of predictability being of crucial importance. Live and learn.
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Old 04-16-07, 02:27 PM
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When I'm in a group ride where we're swinging wide, cutting tight, and then back out wide to maintain as much speed as possible, I try to always leave enough space on the inside for someone to come through next to/slightly behind me without running off the road. That way if someone does run up on me even though he shouldn't have, he has space to make it through without hitting a curb or leaving the paved surface. In a race, those tactics may change a bit to prevent people from trying to take the inside line

Glad you survived it, and as everyone else has said, keep riding with more experienced and faster guys. The benefits are immense.
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Old 04-16-07, 03:38 PM
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Here's some cornering lines and typically the late-apex is the safest for any given speed as it gives you the most run-off space on the exit of the corner:



A lot of new riders take the early apex line (red) because they see the corner coming up and they want to turn in to get around it ASAP, but they don't realize that there's more to the corner than what they see. Turning in too early causes you to have too little rotation done by the time you hit the inside kerb and end up flying across the traffic lane and having to jam on the brakes on the exit, potentially running out of room and running into traffic. Also a bike under braking tends to sit up and wants to go in a straight line rather than cornering.

A safer line is the late-apex (blue-line). Staying to the outside as late as possible also gives you a better view of the traffic around the corner before you turn in. But it does require a quicker turn-in and getting to maximum lean at the very last moment. So practice your quick countersteering and leaning over.

I think what happened in your case, was you were set for the late-apex line, but you didn't turn in (green line). So you ended up with the worse of all cases. You had a wide set-up with a lazy turn-in so you missed the apex completely and ended up in on-coming traffic.
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Old 04-16-07, 04:01 PM
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sweet MSpaint skills.
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Old 04-16-07, 04:34 PM
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That's really helpful, thanks danno!
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Old 04-16-07, 07:14 PM
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thanks immensely for these most helpful tips. yes, that "missed apex" line was me all over.

back on that horse...
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Old 04-16-07, 07:33 PM
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You could always try the yellow line...

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Old 04-17-07, 09:37 AM
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Great post, Danno!
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Old 04-18-07, 06:01 AM
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[QUOTE=DannoXYZ]Here's some cornering lines and typically the late-apex is the safest for any given speed as it gives you the most run-off space on the exit of the corner:



I think that the concern of the OP, which is very common, is that if you follow the "late apex" line (blue line), the fear is that someone behind you might be following the "early apex" line (red line), which could spell trouble if both of you simultaneously reach the spot where the red and blue lines intersect.

This is where a combination of the suggestions above should be heeded:

1. a quick glance backwards to see what's developing behind you.
2. allowing the gap in front of you to stretch a little to give you more room to maneuver.
3. following the line of the rider in front (so you aren't the 'red line' guy, if he's the 'blue line' guy or vice-versa).
4. communicating ("hold your line", "watch it", "inside", etc.)

I've seen really, really strong riders who couldn't corner worth crap. If you recognize any such rider on your rides, avoid him/her like the plague. Generally, (without trying to start a flame war) stay away from the tri-guys (recognizable by their handlebars). In my experience they are usually really good when travelling in a straight line, and often really bad when cornering.

Just like anything else in the cycling skills world, the more you practice, the better you will get at it.

Bob
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