Thursday, October 3

Around the corner

I mentioned getting some tips on how to corner from Trevyn Newpher, professional rider and Steamboat Bike School supervisor awhile back.  Probably his most important tip was "Practice, practice, practice."

He told me the biggest problem would be fighting muscle memory.  What's that?

"Muscle memory is not a memory stored in your muscles, of course, but memories stored in your brain that are much like a cache of frequently enacted tasks for your muscles. It's a form of procedural memory that can help you become very good at something through repetition, but in exactly the same way it can make you absolutely terrible at that same thing."

So that's me, the last part...  absolutely terrible at that same thing.  Not so much "absolutely terrible," but there's much room for improvement.  I can get around corners fairly fast, faster than maybe 57% of the people out there riding mountain bikes... maybe 78% if we include people wearing tennis shoes and riding Pacifics from Target.  Free speed is available to me, so I need to look into it.  I promised Trevyn that I would give it a whirl when I got back home.

I can't practice all the skills needed while I'm at work on The Fastest Bike in the World.  Fixed gear cornering doesn't lend itself to pedal positioning and whatnot.  The very next weekend after getting back from Steamboat, I was racing fixed gear at the Southern Single Speed Championships.  Another missed opportunity.  No practice.

This past weekend, I was feeling lazy.  I headed to the closest woods around; the Back Yard Trails.  Still not a great place to practice corners... ironically because there are too many corners.  Tight, nasty, speed-sucking, somewhat technical corners outnumber the flowy corners seventy five to one.  I seriously tried, but my efforts were to no avail.

So I decided to use my downtime at work to learn my new skill in the most virtual manner possible, watching videos.

I watched this video closely, analyzing his every move... and that's when I noticed this:
Left Turn:

Right Turn:

Weight centered, lean the bike and not the body, saddle against the inside leg... but switching his leading foot on every turn.  Hrmmmm...

Trevyn suggested always leading with your strong foot.  Foot swapping is a roadie habit.  Pink Bike's 3 Steps to Faster Corners (source of the video) suggests dropping the outside foot.


My tendency has always been to turn roadie style'esque.

Outside foot down, inside knee into the corner, a look or arrogance on my face.  It's worked for me or so I thought, but I do tend to get dropped by those who can corner faster than me.

But this guy looks fast:

This image is from here... an article on "flawless cornering."  Foot position? 

"... and your outside crank arm and foot would be at 6:00 while your inside crank and foot would be at 12:00."

Damn it.  His knee is still up and out as well....

The one thing that is agreed upon is the whole keeping the body squared up on the bike... although I don't see mention of it, Trevyn suggested bringing the saddle to the inside of the leg on the inside of the corner.  Seems to be what duder up there in that image is doing.  I think I'll work on that...

Or I won't.  I haven't really decided.  Old dog, new trick, and a lack of willingness to produce effort at the moment.  Perhaps when that last race is behind me, I can take a break from The Fastest Bike in the World, ride something a little more free-wheeling, and get paid to practice while I'm at work.

One last thing... most of my riding is done on a bike with a saddle locked and loaded in the upright position.  Seems to me that saddle position is a game changer.  Hard to bring that saddle into your thigh when it's all up in your ass.

Shit.  I can't corner but I certainly can think (and write) in circles all day long.

Where was I?


BIG JIM said...

Hmmmmm, the whole "counter pressure" thing has me head scratching. I'll give this a try..unless I don't

John Parker said...

Looks like he is riding a BMX bike.

Harlan Price said...

Do you really want to get into this? James Wilson has good intentions, but his insistence on switch foot riding through corners is idealistic. Stop watching his videos.

Current thought is to keep pedals from dropping to 6 o-clock as much as possible. Stay balanced, allow outside foot to drop depending on the corner direction. Strong foot forward. Spend time trying to ride switch foot for other reasons.

dicky said...

Just watched that video per Aaron Chamberlain (Maxxis). I noticed they stayed strong foot forward as well. That's gonna be my hardest habit to break.

Thanks HP