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A beginner’s guide to cornering

How to fly through the curves

Are you thinking of trying some races in 2022? Maybe you didn’t get a chance to compete much these past few years, so your cornering might be rusty. If you’ve been sticking to Zwifting, or riding alone outside, it might be time to practice carving some corners at full speed again.

There’s a two aspects to focus on when you’re cornering. First, there’s the set-up as you approach, and then the actual execution as you enter the corner.

Set-up

When you’re getting ready to go through a corner, you’ll want to consider a few things. Irrespective of the sharpness of the corner, you still want to make the turn as straight as you can and keep as much speed as you can.
That means when you are about to enter the corner, you should stay as wide as you can. By starting the corner on the outside, you can dart right through the apex.

Timothy Rugg of Team Lowestrates.ca getting low through a corner on his ride to the top step of the podium. Photo: Tyler D’Arcy

Stay loose

It’s key to stay relaxed. If you’re tense or stressed, you may find yourself overturning and unable to correct if you’ve taken the wrong line. Take a deep breath and stay loose. If you’re clutching the bars as if you’re going to fall off a cliff, you’re not going to flow through the corner well.

Felt FR

Look ahead

In a race, you want to look ahead of you. Don’t stare at the wheel you’re following. Focus on where you want to go. By looking through the corner, you’ll be able to follow the optimal line.

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Speed

If it’s the first time you’re going through this corner, you’ll have to guess what speed is the best. That means feathering the brakes before the corner, never during. Slamming your brakes on in the corner of an apex will result in either a botched corner, or worse, a crash.

Outside pedal down, inside pedal up

Although you may be able to pedal through the corner, it’s often safest to presume you can’t. Put your weight on your outside pedal, and lift your inside pedal up. If you have your inside pedal down, you may clip your pedal on the road.

Christina Gokey-Smith
Christina Gokey-Smith rounds the hairpin corner midway in the race. Photo: Scott Robarts

Keep the speed going

As you exit the corner, head to the outside of the road so you don’t slow down. Once you’re clear, you can stand up and step on the pedals if you’ve lost any speed.

Watch: Mathieu van der Poel puts cyclocross skills to use cutting corner in road race