I thought I would follow up with yesterday's post about descending, and go over one of the most critical elements of cycling at speed - Cornering on a bike, and how to handle it.
Just like descending, cornering is really fun, but it's a bit of an advanced maneuver, and it definitely takes some practice. You might start at slow speed, and in a closed parking lot, just to get more comfortable with your bike.
Begin by setting up a slalom-like obstacle course. Set the cones probably 20' apart, and instead of running them along one line, walk the cones out maybe 5' from the centerline in an alternating pattern, so you are forced to turn a bit more when you're slaloming. Place a cone at the end, a ways out, that is more prominent. You'll be staring at that cone the entire time.
Cornering is about swinging your bike out a bit from underneath you, in a lean. You may be concerned about slipping, so try this. Stand facing your bike from the side, and put a hand on the brake, and another hand on the saddle. Then, step back, and keep the bike where it is. The bike will tilt. Then press against the bike, and see if it slips. No? Take another step back. The bike will tilt even more. Press against it, and see if it slips. Most bikes and tires can go well beyond 45 degrees, before they slip, as long as the outside pedal is down.
Now, look at this photo:
As these cyclists make their corner, notice that all of them have their heads up, and vertical, while their outside legs are down. They're looking INTO the turn. Most of them are in their drops, which is my preferred position, and where I ask cyclists to be when learning. The bikes are steering themselves through the corner, as the riders pick the point where they're going to place themselves in the turn.
Back to the drill: Practice the slalom course you've built by riding to the outside of each cone, and leaning your bike in to the corner. ALWAYS keep your head swiveled towards the far cone at the end. As you approach each cone, give yourself a 1/2 pedal rotation so that the outside leg is again at the bottom. Don't stare at the cone you are approaching. Instead, already anticipate the NEXT cone, which you'll set up for momentarily.
The key is, like I've said many times before this month, Keep your CHIN UP, and your CHEST OUT, and look DOWN THE ROAD toward the end. With practice, your confidence and competence will improve, and you'll have a LOT more fun out there, while riding more safely as well.
This drill and others are taught through our Bicycle Driving course, which is hosted by www.cyclingsavvydfw.org. Every cyclist, no matter how much experience they have, can learn something from this course.
Register today for our Autumn class!