You’re out with the local training bunch and hanging fine on the rolling hills and windy sections. But every time the group goes around a corner, you get gapped by 20 or 30 feet.
Cyclists tend to go hard out of corners. Cynics would say it’s mob mentality. Some riders are fit enough to sprint away and so they do, simply to torture their peers.
Well, maybe. But the real reason is to conserve momentum, which is at risk every time you come to a turn. Cornering scrubs speed. Standing and accelerating quickly is the way to limit the loss.
So, the key is to be ready to invest a burst of energy. Here are four techniques. You can work on some by going to a lightly trafficked road with 90-degree turns.
—Shift before the turn. If you’re going to lose significant speed in a turn, remember to shift into a somewhat lower gear before you stop pedaling to lean the bike over. In an overly large gear or one that’s too low, it’s hard to get up to speed again no matter if you’re standing or sitting.
—Stand. Besides faster acceleration, a good reason to get out of the saddle after corners is to remove saddle pressure and stretch your legs and back. If you get in the habit of standing for a few strokes after most turns, you’ll ride more comfortably and ingrain the habit of picking up speed quickly.
—Don’t sprint all-out. The leaders will go hard right after the turn but usually settle down in a few seconds. You want to limit your losses, but not at the expense of wasting energy that you’ll need for the rest of the ride. Sprint at about 90%, stay in the group’s slipstream, then cruise up as the pace makers back off.
—Don’t be the caboose. When you know a corner is coming, move up in the group. Some riders with more speed or technique may pass, but you’ll still be in contact. If you sit timidly at the back and get gapped out of every turn, soon you’ll be gone.