There’s nothing more thrilling than leaning into a corner, changing direction, and flying away from the apex. Getting it wrong, however, could have serious consequences. Here we learn how to avoid broken limbs and go for the wins.
Is your bike safe and is it raining?
Before leaving the house, your bike should have a full service. Obviously that’s impractical, so at the very least, check your brakes and that your tyres are correctly pressurized and free of shards.
It may sound obvious, but even a small amount of rain turns a familiar corner into a skid pan. If you’re excited for your ride, the weather is often the last thing you notice.
Brake and get in gear early
The slower you approach a corner, the better you’ll see obstacles and the shape of the turn. Even with the trend of fatter and low pressure tyres, you’ve not got much grip going into a corner. Your braking should be early, and it should be controlled to such extent that you have enough time to drop a few gears ready for Hammer Time (see below).
Choose your line early
Unless you’re a UCI licensed race cyclist who’s made an early break from a peloton, it’s unlikely you’ll be taking wide racing lines into corners. Safety must come first, especially if you’re sharing the road with motor vehicles.
Use the full lane and approach corners as wide as your lane allows. Check no one is undertaking on your inside and signal your intention before hugging the corner towards the apex.
Lower your centre of gravity
Leaning into corners moves your centre of gravity closer to the centre of the bend in the road. Keep your bum in the saddle to improve this dynamic, and keep your hands on the drops rather than the hoods.
Thanks to your early braking, you should already be in the right gear by the time you’ve passed the apex, so as soon as you feel your body lifting to a vertical position out the corner you can drop the hammer.
Rule 64 – experience matters
The more you corner at speed, the better you become at it – but as The Rules point out: “this pattern continues until it falls sharply and suddenly”.
Nothing tells you exactly how much grip your rear tyre has until it flies out from under your body and you’re lying in the road with a broken hip. Cornering is fun, but not as fun as dropping someone on the climb. Brake early, be alert, and save the heroics for when you’ve passed the apex!