This was 1988 and it looks like I’m quite serious, but the picture is from a photo shoot – not a race! However, despite the staged shot, there are several takeaways regarding bike handling that still apply today.
Scan Ahead Through The Turn. Keep your eyes high and scan ahead around the turn! Why? If you look down—particularly on a turn—you will invariably start to steer the front wheel. For example if there is a rock or pine cone in your “line” and you’re focusing on it, your bike will go right at the object! A low head and low eye contact creates a very jerky turn simply by overreacting to the object and the turning radius. If you keep your eyes always ahead of the turn and looking down the road, this will allow you to smoothly roll around the turn. Keep looking ahead. Flowing around the turn and not trying to steer the front well is key. Tighter turns may require a short look but keep advancing your eyes ahead of your turn. Never look down!
Apply Slight Pressure on the Inside Hand During A Turn. Slight palm hand pressure on the inside hand will enhance a symmetrical and non jerky turn. Why? This comes back to NOT steering the front wheel around a turn. If you practice putting a slight palm pressure just as you’re initiating the turn the bike will round the turn smoothly in an arc. Practice this in a parking lot with several pylons set up or better yet on one of your favorite cycling rides!
Swing your knee outward on the apex and gently shift your hips. Since this was a photo shoot the camera didn’t catch this critical cornering skill. By allowing your knee to move outward and holding this position, you can gently shift your center of gravity. Offsetting your weight and also simultaneously shifting your hips to the turn the bike will not slide out. Knee out, hip shift to the side will enable the bike tire to maintain optimum traction. If the bike and not the body leans too much the bike may slide out.
Practice these skills during your training and you’ll go into your next race feeling more calm and confident on your bike.