Last night at my MTB Skills & Fitness Boot Camp we went over cornering. Cornering is one of the Holy Grails of riding – riders that can do it well go faster with less effort. However, as I learned over the course of two Better Ride camps with Gene Hamilton it also a bit counter-instinctive. Left on their own, most riders simply develop bad habits.
Cornering breaks down into 3 basic steps:
1) Turn with your hips. Set up for a turn with the hips by pointing your belly button the direction you want to go. This will shift your hips to the outside and shift some weight to your outside foot. The more you shift your hips the more you’ll want to drop and weight your outside foot.
2) Use counter-pressure to steer into the turn. Counter pressure (which I prefer to the term counter-steering) is when you push forward with your left arm to turn left and push forward with your right elbow to turn right. This gets your bike to lean over and your front wheel to track better through the corner. The more you push with your left hand the sharper you’ll turn left, the more you push with your right the more you’ll turn right.
It is the complete opposite of how most riders steer into a turn and impossible to pull off unless you are in the right body position on the bike. However, this concept is very important to learn if you want to be able to corner consistently. It freaked some of my campers out how their bike practically turned itself once they got this concept down.
3) Look through the turn. With all of this hip shifting and counter-pressure you have to look through the corner. Going into the corner you should be looking at the middle of it, not the entrance. Once you hit the entrance you should be looking at the exit and once you hit the exit you should be looking out of the corner at the next section of trail.
All of this will add up to faster, more consistent cornering. I’ll do a video on this next week, especially about the counter-pressure concept, but in the meantime think about some of this stuff and try it out in a parking lot to see how it feels. It is tough to learn this stuff on the trail which is why you need to put in “parking lot time” to really advance to the next level.
The biggest take home lesson from last night was this – at a certain point just riding your bike will make it harder for you to advance. Some of the campers ride a lot and are considered good riders but I noticed that they had the hardest time getting this “new” stuff down. They had logged so many turns using bad form that they had to first unlearn what they had learned, as Yoda would put it.
Also, make sure you check out www.betterride.net, www.bikeskills.com and www.leelikesbikes.com for some more info and videos on skills training. No matter how good you are you can get better and these website are great resources that every rider should be utilizing.