We borrowed these tips from the FoCo Fondo Fest crew. Coach Zack provides a bunch of information on how to not die while cornering on gravel, a good skill to have. Remember, the FoCo Fondo Fest is coming up on August 4th over at New Belgium and all over Northeastern Colorado. There are 4 different routes; the 101 miler, the 50 miler and two family rides, a 12 mile mostly path ride and a 25 mile scavenger hunt. Full details here: https://www.focofondo.com/the-routes/
Cornering in gravel is a battle against traction. On a road bike your tires grab the pavement, allowing you to really lean over on the bike in a corner. On gravel however, there's not really any major bike leaning- you'd just slide out!
The same fundamentals of road cornering applies to gravel corning. Keep your weight on the outside of the bike, outside pedal down and weighted, brake before the turn. Before pushing your limits too far, learn the traction in your tires and your optimal tire pressure for your weight and the conditions.
If you are looking to push your gravel cornering limits, here are keys to consider:
- Keep your upper body loose and relaxed
- Find the fast line: outside-apex-outside
- Feel the grip of your tires in the turn. You have to be able to move your balance around to as you find the balance between sliding and traction.
In road cycling, you have traction throughout the whole turn and only when pushing the very limits do you start to lose traction. In gravel the line is blurred. You will be turning and feeling where your tires are in and out of traction and you have to be able to move the bike upright and leaned depending on where your traction moves.
Practice makes perfect. Without crashing, take some hard turns. Also use your rear brake not your front. If you’re on the edge of your traction ability, when you tap the rear brake, your rear tire will instantly lose traction until you let the brake go. Skid around, make the rear come around a bit, learn what you and your bike can do before you have to test your abilities in a timed event or race.
Be sure to join us for some of our upcoming pre-rides and pick some gravel expert brains.