Welcome to the first article of 2018 in the BrakeSteerTurn (BST© Series)
“Ride safe, ride efficient. Practice now, practice soon, practice every ride!”
That is our resolute mantra here at LeanIn Cornering…
Our motto of practice your “riding skills” does not refer to the ‘one-legged’ pedal drills, hill repeats or the intervals… (at least not yet) Save those aerobic training drills for when you unquestionably nail down riding skills.
With Spring riding season only a 2 weeks away, most of are itching to just get on the bike and ride… but, taking an hour or so a week for the first couple of weeks on your own or in a very small group to practice riding drills and get the synapses firing again will pay dividends!
It’s been about 3-4 months since many of us have ridden the road on a consistent basis. Typically this time of year most riders scale back or hit the indoor trainer… This means that our ‘riding skills’ may have slightly diminished (usually only a temporary condition) But as we get back to outdoor riding on the road, we tend to feel as they say, a bit ‘rusty’ not quite in our ‘groove’ yet.
If you have planned out a ‘route’ why not hit a few parking lots, office building complexes, schools, and parks, etc. Do this either before or at the end of the ride. (preferably prior!) These aforementioned spots are typically the best places to practice riding skills as most lots will have built-in concrete islands, circles, and round-a-bouts for implementing the basic road riding drills.
Practice not only to sharpen the skill-set, but to maintain safe riding habits. Maybe make a game of it, have a bit of fun while improving your skill set! Below are a few tips and drills for improving balance, steering and vision:
>Slow to moderate-speed riding (ride tight slow circles & figure 8s with your head up and without letting your feet touch the ground inside a painted parking space. Working towards a tighter and tighter circle)
>Steer to avoid obstacles (place a few small objects on the ground approx., 4′-5′ apart and steer to avoid them. Start out slow and steadily increase your speed- eyes up & forward)
>Track stands (try to keep your balance for as long as you can- best practiced on
a slight incline)
>Straight-line braking (smooth, gradual pressure to full on braking, also try “Threshold/Emergency Braking“)
>Braking in a turn (to adjust your line or to potentially avoid objects)
Body Position, Braking & Steering
1. As you approach a turn, get the majority of your braking done before turning in then initiate slight pressure on the bars (countersteering) along with leaning your body. Tip
in to the corner with the brakes just slightly on and then gradually start trailing the brake(s) off.
2. Before trailing off, you should be keeping slight pressure on the brakes until you are satisfied with entry speed for radius/direction. Then reduce brake lever pressure as you add lean angle.
3. Always add brake pressure AND lean angle in a linear manner and then trail off the brakes smoothly.
This technique ensures a safe entry to a corner and helps to keep the bike stable while opposing forces are at work. Abrupt inputs to the brakes and the bars will usually result in a bad experience! (I.E. loss of traction and/or control, with a resulting crash or perhaps not, if you’re lucky…)
Employ quick definitive steering when confronted with an obstacle. What countersteering does first and foremost is assist in implementing an Avoidance Maneuver technique.
I often hear that countersteering isn’t necessary, but the mistake or assumption made is that countersteering is only for the competing racer-types, for very aggressive riding or worse, not even needed or relevant →
( 😉 wink, wink ms. Emma…)
But on the contrary, countersteering is very relevant and a key aspect of good, efficient riding skills. Because inevitably, you will at some point encounter a situation that requires you to steer the bike quickly and safely to avoid something. If you think that relying on body steering alone will get the job the done… you may want to think again. Without having this skill become a ‘memory’ type reaction, chances are that you might not be able to take the appropriate action to avoid a potential object. It requires practice to reinforce the inputs and memory action from both brain and muscles.
Always keep the eyes and head up. Eyes continue scanning back and forth,
- Reactions: Take an athletic stance and with an irregularly-shaped ‘reaction’ type ball, bounce it off a hard surface and try to catch it as the change in speed and direction challenge your visual tracking and hand-eye reaction skills. You can perform this alone or with others.
2. Background-Foreground: Focus on a distant object and quickly as possible adjust your focus to a very close object. Repeat this at a very fast pace for a minute or two at
So get out there and shake off that winter ‘rust’. Ride safe and have fun! 😀