When was the last time you set aside time to work on bike handling skills? Today – last week – last month – last year? If you are like most triathletes, the answer is probably “not lately”. But, triathlon bikes with aero bars and front end hydration systems can be tricky to maneuver when you have to do anything other than ride in a straight line. And, in a short event like a sprint race, every second counts. So, to become a faster triathlete it is important to become a better cyclist. Spending some time practicing bike skills like cornering and becoming confident with tight turns, will only make you faster.

Last week Coach Sherri of The Doctrine chatted a bit about cornering at the beginning of the Doctrine Wed night club ride. It was great to be reminded about effective cornering technique.

Cornering Tips:

  • Shed speed by feathering brakes before you enter a corner.
  • Look ahead and assess the road – are there cars, gravel, pot holes, wet patches, other riders? Adjust your speed, and line accordingly.
  • As you corner, inside leg (pedal you are leaning towards) should be “up” (at the top of your pedal stroke i.e. 12 o’clock) so it won’t hit the ground as you go around the corner.
  • Apply counter weight to your outside leg which will be “down” (at the bottom of your pedal stroke i.e. 6 o’clock)
  • Look where you want to go – your bike will head towards the direction your eyes are focused.
  • Resume pedaling as you come out of the corner.

In the photo below from last week’s ride, you can see Marianne W demonstrating great cornering form. Note how she is looking ahead, her hands are feathering her brakes, her inside leg is up, she is leaning towards it, and she is counter weighting her outside leg that is at the bottom of her pedal stroke. Well done Marianne!

At the end of our ride, we spent some time practicing tight corners. This is skill you’ll often need on an out and back race course or during a pathway ride that has tight switchbacks on overpass approaches / descents. A great place to practice this bike skill is in a parking lot with painted parking stall lines.

 An empty parking lot like this is ideal

Tight Corner Practice

  • Use the lines on the ground and begin by turning within two stalls.
  • Practice turning in both directions – one direction will be more comfortable than the other.
  • Progress to continuous figure eights and try to turn with smaller and smaller radii.
  • Like with wider corners, be sure to look where you want to go, and weight your outside leg to maintain balance.

Coach Sherri demonstrating tight cornering technique:

  Pick a starting stall in a parking lot

  Ride to the end of the line and corner

 Start off wide and progress to tighter turns

 Look where you want to go as you turn

 Try one direction at first and then move to figure eights

To get better at these types of bike skills it’s important to know how to practice these skills AND to execute the skills properly when practicing. Then in time, you will perform these skills while riding without having to consciously think about them.

There might not be any races on the horizon but this is still a GREAT time to work on skill development in all three disciplines of triathlon!

Coach Mary