Cornering Skills

Rage Against The Machine 

49“You’re fighting your bike, Girl – in the hard turns. You must make it an extension of yourself and lean with it, trusting your bicycle with forces of gravity. You can really lean with it, you can!” Ina Teutenberg, Pro Cyclist, advising me how to take the corkscrew at Laguna Seca

The corkscrew that pops bike racers!


Ina delivered this instruction to me quietly in a hotel elevator after seeing me rage against my bike during early stages of Sea Otter Classic. I was really rusty, truthfully – scared in the mass cornering at speed situations in those twisty early season California suburb courses. Ina was not willing to subject herself to the next day’s Formula One course with me fighting myself and gapping her. Her advice was well received – I couldn’t get out of my own way! I was stronger than ever and didn’t know what to do with it. Newfound speed seemed uncontrollable and I felt like a new cyclist all over again.

I was also remembering that cycling was mourning 50three racers to unforeseen circumstances on screaming descents, and any speedy cornering or fast downhills were a block in my psyche. Ina’s advice awakened a resolution to my fear problem. By focusing not on the danger but instead on what could be trusted and on technique, I was able to amend my post-winter gawky cornering style and remember the fundamentals of leaning and counter-steering. Lean WITH the bike in some really fast turns, lean myself and not the bike if pedaling through or with sketchy road surface and sometimes on switchback descents. I practiced both techniques – attacking the corkscrew well before race time to take it at speed with no one else around. I did a little better that stage and lost less energy gapping myself and annoying my competitors.

Like any skill, willing to lay my bike or myself down through a final turn for a win took time. Eventually I mastered the skill as it was a dive through the final turns on a slick surface in the rain that won my masters national championship.

Prayer for Cornering Skills

“…he made machines designed by skillful men for use on the towers and on the corner defenses…His fame spread far and wide, for he was greatly helped until he became powerful.”  51 Second Chronicles 26:15

We marvel at the apparent ease of the speed specialists on the road. We confess our occasional fear even as experts. We ask for healthy respect for safety and for the fastest line to intersect any angle of geometry.

Ponder Have I discovered my turn speed limits by maxing it in grass drills? Affirm I move as one with my bicycle. Watch for opportunities to meet any fear through informed, skillful determination.

49Conversation with Ina Teutenberg occurred in Monterey, CA. Ina of course was beating all of us, sometimes not just lapping the field in criteriums but lapping it twice! I think she knew a little something about bike handling.

Laguna Seca is a Formula One race course for cars and has a wonderful twisting descent on the backside – a corkscrew- which drops the field suddenly in a spiraling whirl of wheels, wind and wonder. It’s a blast when properly ridden!

50The three racers were Fabio Casartelli in the 1996 Tour de France, Nicole Reinhart in the 2000 Arlington BMC Race Series, and Garrett LeMire in the 2003 Tucson Bicycle Classic. I was either present or closely associated with each situation.

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