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How to Corner Fast and Safely
By Coach Jerry Jacobs

Competent and safe cornering is essential to be able to ride and enjoy
your bike. This is equally true for recreational riders and competitive racers.

It is not just about being fast. It is also about being safe and handling your
bike well in a variety of situations. That could be on a local group ride, a
race or descending a mountain pass in Europe.
The most common cornering mistake is thinking that the shortest line is
the fastest.
  In reality, the fastest and also the safest line in any corner is
the one that produces the most speed as the cyclist exits the corner.
To do that, you must 'set up' the corner and enter it at the proper angle, typically  using a 
wider line that allows you to carry much more speed.
Criterium racing brings out the most extreme examples of good and bad cornering. These are 
typically short, fast, intense races with multiple laps that have lots of turns.
Cornering skills here are essential. The best racers(men and women)can carry
an amazing amount of speed safely and efficiently tough even technical
corners. Being able to exit each corner with more speed than the cyclist
in front of you makes life a lot easier because if you exit the corner slower than the rider in 
front of you means it means you have to sprint to catch that wheel. 
Mulitply that many times over and you are doing much more work than 
the rider that corners efficiently.
At a recent Crit on a relatively technical corner, I watched and coached
racers in various fields. The less experienced Cat 5’s had numerous
crashes. The Pro and Masters fields had no crashes, yet they were riding 3 to 5 mph faster.
In every case, crashes in the Cat 5’s and less experienced fields were
caused by entering the corner too tight and starting their turn too early.
This line results in the rider being “shot out” of the bottom of the corner.
At best, riders lose a lot of speed to be able to navigate the exit. At worst,
they crashed into the curb or hit the deck. Trying to adjust a bad line while
already the turn often results in a slide.
More experienced racers were taking a higher, cleaner and safer line.
They were hugging the far outside as they entered the corner. They were
initiating the turn later and more patiently (technically called turning on a
“late apex”).  A smooth arch and a nice line results in fast and safe turn.
No touching of the brakes. No adjusting the line. 
They exited the corner with maximum speed.
More advanced cyclists are better at a technique called “counter steering”.
This is tipping the bike at a large angle entering a turn. The larger the
angle, the more that the cyclist will need to have the upper body stay more
upright in order to “counter” the weight distribution. This, along with
pressure on the outside leg and the inside hand, will cause the bike to“carve” the corner. 
This is an advanced teqnique you can practice once you are 
comfortable with selecting the correct line and the speed you carry.
A couple of final pointers.
If you need to adjust your speed do it before the corner. Once you
are in the corner, taking the smoothest and roundest arch is the only safe
thing to do. Hitting the brakes or attempting to change the line at that point is a bad idea.
Your hands should be in the drops for maximum control on a technical corner.
If you need a tighter line, pressuring the outside leg and inside hand will
result in the bike taking a tighter arch. That is really your only play if you
find that you have too much speed and are already in the corner.
It is best to have your eyes “look through” the corner to the exit. That will
help to make a smooth and clean arch. It will also alert you to possible
hazards such as bad pavement or debris.
Of course, an experienced cycling coach or a good clinic can accelerate
your learning curve.
Good luck and have fun!

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