Corning in a race is a tricky business. Very few riders have a natural ability to take corners like a pro. In my experience, the ones who are best at cornering usually started when they were very young and their prefrontal cortex was halfway developed. For the vast majority of us, being excellent at cornering takes a lot of practice.
This past week was the Move Up Cornering Clinic in Lawrence, and it was my third that I’ve helped instruct. What I’ve learned from running these clinics is that cornering is a lot like riding a bike. Convenient analogy, I know.
Riding a bike is all physics, but you don’t have to have a PhD in physics to ride a bike correctly. Cornering is no different in that what is most important are a few basic techniques. When you nail these techniques, you get an instant feedback where things “just click”. If you’ve ever taught a kid how to ride a bike, or if you can dig back far enough in your memory from when you first learned to ride, you know that this “click” is massively important. Once you get it, there’s no going back to the inexperience from before.
New riders are often unaware of some very important techniques, and so they don’t trust themselves, their equipment, or even other riders around them. A few techniques that are often forgotten or never correctly learned are: keeping the outside foot pressed firm on the pedal, proper body weight distribution, correct line, correct speed, and getting off the breaks through the apex.
Once these techniques and others are executed, things are bound to “click”. And with that “click” comes the all too coveted boost in confidence (which is what I most often hear as being the thing holding a rider back). I’ve seen riders go from being shaky and unsure through turns to railing them like they’re in a Red Bull commercial an hour later. No matter the degree of improvement, practice is always key. After all, Mother Nature did not design us to corner fast on bikes, but that didn’t stop us from designing bikes to corner fast on! Plus, if there were not room to improve, where would the challenge be?
There will be another Move Up Corning Clinic this summer. We will make sure to spread the word when that date is decided. Until then, keep practicing!
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