Sucking Cornering

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I’ve been cornering like shit recently. Bill told me this a couple days ago and I agree with him completely. There are a couple reasons for this and I know them, but that doesn’t change it.

The main reason is that I am pretty spooked about falling on my right shoulder. I’ve invested a good portion of my life into this shoulder repair and don’t want to screw it up by falling down. The 2nd is because there is a fair amount of sand left in the roads from the winter and you can never tell if there is going to be sand there or not. But that is the case every Spring, so it doesn’t really count.

I’m not sure when I’m going to put more effort into corning correctly. I’m turning left pretty good, just not right. It is bugging me, but not bugging me enough that I plan to go and try to corner at race speed training. It just isn’t “worth it”. That is so weird I write that because I hear that statement all the time when people are making excuses for a regret they have in a bike race and I hate it. If they didn’t think it was worth it, then they shouldn’t of started the race in the first place is my usual thought.

Anyway, it will come around when my arm works better. I don’t have the ability to compensate for something that might need a quick correction, so I’m just not messing around with it now.

But, I was thinking about what I’m doing wrong and why I’m cornering so horribly. It is mainly that I’m not putting all my weight on my outside pedal and turning the corner smoothly. I’m leaving some of my weight on my seat, making it nearly impossible to turn a tight corner at the correct angle. It is weird how I would change something that I have done most of my life, just to compensate for a bum shoulder.

I am looking forward to going out when the sand is gone and practice turning. I know that sounds amateurish, and it is, but I think I might do it anyway. It will be a first. I don’t plan on entering a race until I am positive that my shoulder is good and can do everything I want it to do it all circumstances. Right now I’m not even close. I probably could go and enter a tame road race, if it wasn’t windy, and ride alright, but there are way too many times, even in the most tame races where you have to do a quick movement, a jerk that I’m not close to capable of doing.

That is one thing I love about the sport of cycling, mastering something that seems nearly impossible. That is one of the reasons that I’ve switched around so much between road, cyclo-x and MTB racing. Each aspect of the sport has things that are unique to them.

The road is pretty straight forward, but not really. You have to be able to corner on dry cement, wet cement, dry asphalt, wet asphalt and do all these at various speeds. Not counting you have to be able to do it now, day or night, since so many of our races are night time criteriums.

Cross and MTB are so much different. Reading the ground is so important. Being able to identify, as you approach, the different kinds of mud, by sight is mandatory if you want to excel at the sport. Then riding on loose gravel, wet rocks, wet roots, wet leaves, etc. makes the learning curve huge.

Berryman Epic this past year is a good example. I was riding like hell. I was in a super physical slump. But, I got lucky that there was 6 inches of leaves covering the whole course. I got lucky because for one, I’d raced the race 3 times before and knew how rocky it was, but two, I can ride my bike relatively good over rocks covered with leaves. That was the difference there.

It takes years of bike racing to attain most the abilities that you need to be able to handle your bike well. I hate showing up somewhere and not having the exact ability to do what is needed. I hate having to take a chance to keep up, but I usually do. Then I go out and try to learn the skill I was missing, so the next time I don’t have to take a chance. I already have it in my quiver, so I’m at an advantage, thus faster.

This isn't the best example of corning, but it is the only one I could find.  My leg is pretty straight, but obviously, all the weight is off my seat on my left pedal, lowering my center of gravity.

This isn’t the best example of corning, but it is the only one I could find. My leg is pretty straight, but obviously, all the weight is off my seat on my left pedal, lowering my center of gravity.

8 thoughts on “Sucking Cornering

  1. KevinK

    I am sorry but, as a new cyclist, I don’t understand how putting all your weight on your outside pedal lowers your center of gravity. Can anyone explain that for me? Thank you.

  2. Vincent

    @ KevinK
    Technically it does not lower your center of gravity. It does lower the leverage of your center of gravity on the ground. Think about a lever arm being from the ground to the (pivot point) of your bodys center of gravity. 1) Gound to outside pedal 2) Ground to seat. This is also why to should apply weight to your inside hand it is also lower to the ground. The same things apply to motorcycles.
    At least that is my take on it.

  3. The Cyclist

    Try it and you’ll feel it. You can control your bike’s handling by shifting your weight between the saddle and the outer pedal back and forth. No need to put it all in one place. Also try to use your outer leg as suspension unit. Can be very helpful in certain cituations.

  4. Bill K

    It’ll take time. Once you get back in shape, then you can work on cornering. I’ve seen too many guys crank it up on a training ride and manage to find some sand that wasn’t there yesterday.
    In your situation, I would find a nice empty office parking lot, on a Sunday, and sweep the corners myself.

  5. Martin

    IMO you do not lower your COG nor your “leverage”.
    You may bring your weight (COG) more forward (more weight on front wheel , and COG closer between the center of the bike. (axis of the bike).
    Correct me if I’m wrong.

  6. Just Crusty

    Maybe it’s center of gravity, maybe it’s leverage.

    My sense on the bike is that weight on outside pedal with weight off saddle and a little forward allows you to lean the bike a few more degrees, move the bike around more easily, change direction more quickly etc. That’s just a feeling from racing mtb for 10-15 years.

  7. Devin

    Steve, did you ever learn counter-steering during your time coming up through the National Team system? I seem to remember a little blurb about teaching kids how to counter-steer at national team training camps, but almost every single time I ask riders if they do it I get a blank look. I love doing it, but only when I’ve been around the corners within a day or so (or laps if it’s a race,) cause it’s pretty much assured you’ll crash if you try it in a sandy corner. It’s the little things, yeah? Get well soon!


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