Skills analysis: road race cornering
10 June 2014
Being able to corner fast, safely and effectively is a key road racing skill that youth riders should master. YCS Training & Development Editor Mark Wyer went to watch the youth events at the popular Ixworth Criteriums in Suffolk during May. He took his video camera along to record the cornering skills of the youth riders taking part – watch the video to see his observations and the key points that a youth rider should work on to improve their road cornering.
The village-centre circuit at Ixworth is a short triangle of less than 1km with three tricky corners. The racing there is always fast and furious, with the high street barriers lined with cheering spectators. On the whole I was impressed with the standard of skills on show – but of course there is always room for improvement!
Two of the corners at Ixworth are tight but with a fast entry and therefore require cornering on the drops. This brings the rider’s centre of gravity lower to help with tyre-grip and allows the rider to sprint out of the corner more effectively. Riders should brake in a straight line and get their speed right before they enter the corner. There was some panic braking in one of the corners which is not a great idea when the bike is leant over with centripetal forces acting upon it.
The more confident riders tended to lean their bike more through the corners. This means they steer far less with the bars and use their body weight to create a smoother curve. However some riders tended to get their weight to the inside of the bike rather than leaning the bike. For a great example of how to shift your body weight in a corner, have a look at the tremendous video at the foot of this article of Fabian Cancellara cornering on a fast descent.
Some riders were turning into the corners too soon which meant they had to adjust their turn to make the exit. Those that left their turning a bit later were able to keep a smoother line using a later apex. In addition, those that made sure their eyes looked ahead for the exit were able to corner better. Looking ahead for the exit helps get your balance set up correctly for the corner as opposed to looking at obstacles or the kerb at the side of the road. To be competitive at Ixworth you have to sprint hard out of the corners. The better riders were straight on the power out of the saddle once they got the bike upright out of the corner.
The fastest riders were comfortable cornering with others, on a wheel and side-by-side. This comes from practice both in races and in club training sessions.