The main cornering mistake most riders make is not using their eyes. Instead of looking at the turn carefully, well in advance of approaching it, they stare too near their front wheel. Scanning the corner early helps you choose the correct speed and best line.
- Approach the corner as wide as traffic and other conditions allow.
- Cut through the corner on nearly a straight line.
- Exit wide, again using as much of the road as you can safely inhabit.
Keep an eye out for potholes, gravel, oil slicks, and errant pedestrians. These obstacles are easy to avoid by adjusting your line slightly. But you can do so safely only if you see them well in advance. Whenever you ride, and especially when coming to a turn, remember the advice from your old linebacker coach: “Keep your head on a swivel!”
Staring at the front wheel while riding is also dangerous. Your vision gets locked onto the road by your front tire and your peripheral vision narrows down to a small spot preventing you from seeing hazards ahead, like a car at an intersection getting ready to pull out in front of you, something big lying in the street, etc; we should be looking up the street at least a block ahead on city streets and a lot further on an open road, and be constantly scanning with our eyes.
JOHN JAUSS says
Exactly….I agree with the comment..After almost 30 years of riding I’ve finally learned/perfected my turning ability! When you approach a turn, your brain instinctively makes you concentrate/ look at the corner instead of looking thru it. You have to really concentrate to look thru it, drawing a line with your eyes on the exact path ya want to take. This makes taking turns safer and faster, and there’s a lot to be said for holding your line and unnecessarily taking up the whole road especially when in a group. When you don’t look down the road is the scary part, the universal fear of the unknown. The common advise of starting inside and finishing outside and using every bit of the road is great if nothing goes wrong( unexpected pothole , too much speed, sand etc etc.) I’m in much better control and can tighten the turn if necessary. Much safer if you have a margin of error figured in, a plan B.(BTW I brake less and corner faster than most in my group) JJ..,77 Saint Louis
Rick O says
I’ve found the old adage of “look where you want to go because you’ll go where you look” to be absolutely true – not only in cycling but in skiing and other things also.
Russell Marx says
Brake early, accelerate out of the corner; learned that racing a TR-4 in SCCA.
David Olmsted says
Russell is right on. In my law enforcement training we took regular courses in “pursuit driving”. Instructors drilled three points into us: break before, not in the middle of, a turn, take the shortest line through it and accelerate out of it. When a student hesitated on the acceleration, the instructor would literally press his foot on top of the driver’s.
The same advice applies to cycling. When you break, the weight of the bike is shifted forward, negatively impacting steering, a lot. When you take the outside line of a turn, the weight is forced further outside rather than in the direction you want to go. When you accelerate out of the turn it pushes your momentum in the direction you want to go. Basic physics.
Obviously, traffic can change these calculations. A couple years ago I road in the Dolomites where you can often see several switchbacks ahead. What a gas it was to be able to apply the descending rules without worrying about traffic and blind corners.