Whether on- or off-road, you can gain time by being prepared for tight corners. The idea is to carry more speed into, through, and out of the corner.
The less you have to slow down, the less energy you lose bringing the bike back up to speed.
Here are 4 key points to work on:
- Keep your head up and look farther down the road. This will give you more time to react and set up.
- Set up on the outside of the turn (far left if turning right, for example). This will make the corner wider and allow you to carve a smooth, large radius so that you can carry more speed through the turn.
- Complete all braking while traveling in a straight line. You can brake more effectively when the bike is level and going straight. Tires have a limited amount of traction available. All the traction can be applied to braking when you're traveling in a straight line. Once you lean the bike over to turn, the tires will have to maintain traction for cornering and will have less available for braking.
- Keep your weight back while braking. When you apply the brakes it shifts the weight forward and puts a greater load on the front wheel while un-weighting the rear. This can cause the rear wheel to skid, and/or the rider to be abruptly launched over the handlebars. Try hanging your butt off the back of the saddle and lightly squeezing the saddle with your thighs.
How well you set up for a corner will determine how fast you exit it.
Thomas Chapple is a licensed Elite Level USA Cycling coach, certified USA Triathlon coach, and Ultrafit Associates coach. He coaches regional and nationally competitive athletes and has competed at the national level in downhill mountain bike racing. Learn more about him at coachthomas.com.