Unless you’ve been cycling for some time or had some expert training, cornering on a road bike is a skill that you need to master for safety and to improve your speed.
You’re pedaling downhill at a reasonable speed and see a corner approach. Your instinct is to apply the brakes and slow down through the corner. Your bike sits up and you end up over the center line or worse still in the rough on the other side of the road. Sound familiar? This is a common mistake with new cyclists make. So what should you do to improve your cornering skills?
Confidence and Ability
Cornering is about confidence in your ability .This comes with practice and has a lot to do with your position on the bike and the line you follow through the corner.
When approaching the corner if you need to slow down do your braking before reaching the corner, if you brake in the corner the bike will sit up and you will find it harder to control. Move as far to the outside of the lane as you can, this makes the angle of your corner less hence a smoother turn.
Lower your body towards the handlebars. Move your knees slightly towards the outside of the corner. Keep your inside knee up while pushing down on the outside pedal. Lean the bike into the turn controlling the handlebars with the inside arm.
As you approach the apex of the corner, a slight turning away from your line then back will increase the lean on the bike and ensure a smoother and faster cornering.
At the apex of the corner keep your eyes on your exit line. Your bike will follow where your eyes are focused.
Once through the apex of the corner start pedaling and straighten the bike out of the lean.
Position yourself in the Bunch
If you are riding in a bunch and haven’t mastered your cornering, try to position yourself on the outside of the bunch. If you don’t get the corner right you are less likely to come underneath another riders line and cut him off.
A position in the front section of the bunch is the best place to be when approaching a corner. The front riders will slow as they go through the corner then speed out of the turn. If you are at the back of the bunch you will have to ride harder to overcome this concertina effect.
Cornering on your road bike whether it’s down a hill or around a fast circuit or velodrome, is a skill that you acquire the more you practice it.
For tips on better pedaling technique check this post.