I was reviewing this year’s Ironman Boulder 70.3 course and noticed there are four U-turns and a lot of corners. Giving a little thought to U-turns and cornering, in addition to some practice leading up your big event, may save some valuable time and calories – plus most importantly; make your race safer!
Anticipate the U-turn by spacing yourself out from other riders. Going into a crowded corner exposes you to cornering styles and even mistakes of other riders. While still 30-60 seconds out from a corner take a quick glance looking both ahead and behind. Que into your peripherals and keep head-turning to a minimum. You might need to make a little acceleration to stay ahead of a rider that you do not want to corner with or back off slightly to leave room between you and other riders. These little moves can either save a bit of time or conserve precious calories.
Know how quickly you can slow your bike down so you can keep momentum as long as appropriate and corner with the right amount of speed. Brake too early, and you will waste some well-earned speed. Brake too late, and you will lose momentum and ultimately corner more slowly. Ideally, you will want to be off your brakes while you are in the turn to keep your bike tracking and leaning correctly. It’s definitely a feel thing but the more you practice, the better your feel.
You cannot corner as fast in the rain, on gravel, or through bumpy corners. Finding the right speed for the road conditions is an important consideration.
Anticipating a corner and shifting into an easier gear before the corner will help you smoothly accelerate out the other side. This will also decrease the possibility of dropping a chain that often results from jamming hard on the pedals while shifting.
Typical best cornering practice is to start the corner wide, apex narrow and finish wide. This “straightens out” a corner allowing you to brake a little less and keep more speed through the corner. Having your own space in a corner gives you the best chance of choosing the best line.
Let’s be honest, Time Trial and Triathlon bikes are not great for cornering. Positioning your body better can help make up for some of these front-heavy bikes’ shortcomings. Be out of your aero-bars, shift weight back slightly, lift your butt off the saddle a bit, and subtly widen your elbows and knees. These adjustments will allow the bike to lean better and absorb any little bumps in the road. This will also improve your traction and help you keep your line better. You should also notice that you have more weight on your outside pedal and your bike is leaned more than your body.
The body follows your eyes so look at where you want to exit the turn rather than where you are in the turn. Use your peripherals to pick up any nuances in the road.
Have you done the Boulder Ironman? Do you have any tips or tricks? Leave your comments below.