Text Box: Controlling a bicycle safely has a great deal in common with both skiing and motorcycle racing.  While motorcycle handling might be a more obvious fit, actually one of the key safety practices in cornering both a bicycle and motorcycle is a must in good ski technique, “All your weight should be on the outside foot while turning, not on the saddle and certainly never on the inside pedal”.  
								This simple rule helps preset you to recover when you cross an 
								area of poor grip/traction.  This is because you have created a 									pre-loaded force vector that is above the center of effort and will 								actively work at leveraging the tires into the pavement.  










Grab a pen, pencil or any straight object that is handy.  
Hold it at approximately a 45 degree angle with one 
finger on the upper end and a finger of the other hand 
pressing down somewhere along the middle of the 
length of the pen.  Now push the pen, with the finger 
on the upper end of the pen, along a flat surface, while
 lightly holding in position with the other finger pressing 
down ightly in the middle.  Try this without the finger on top.  
Enough said, always keep your weight on the outside pedal in a corner, all of it.  

Now, how do you make the bike turn?  Well, you shouldn’t do it by leaning; instead you drive a bike by gently applying pressure to turn the handlebars.  In cornering with any significant speed which requires the bicycle and your body to be at an angle to counter centrifugal force, you will usually need to counter steer, (push the handlebars down into the inside of the corner) to initiate and control the turn. Your body should follow as a weight to help counter the effects of centrifugal force.  If you haven’t done this before, start by simply riding along straight at 15 mph or so and gently press down on one side of the handlebars.  You may well have been doing this, but without realizing it.  It is important that you learn to actively steer the bike, this allows you much more control and the ability to make quick changes to your line when required.  Master this skill and you can steer your bike around small obstacles so fast, that your upper body will not have time to move, nor need to.

Never use more than two fingers on the break levers, (women with smaller hands might need three).  Two fingers should be enough if you are scared to really clamp down on the brakes, but if you use all 4 fingers, you run the risk of locking up the brakes, (especially the front) in a panic situation and going down.  

With these fundamentals mastered, keep a constant eye on the surface changes of the road in front of you and when you see areas of suspect traction, you will be able to alter your line to avoid them or even lift the bike up from its cornering angle briefly and feather the brakes before driving the bike back down into the turn to exit safely.

Last, but most important, and ironically the simplest, and yet hardest skill to master, is entering a corner “outside” and driving down to the “Apex”.  This is the “Secret” of a World Champion level Formula 1 auto racing, Moto GP motorcycle racing, Ski Racing and Bicycle racing.  The “Line”.  If you entered the corner any place other than the outside you are were not paying attention and that one lapse can and has been deadly.  See the attached diagram and the red line beginning and ending with an X, which shows what happens if a corner is entered “backwards”.  Starting with a bad, “Inside” entry ensures that you will spend the rest of the corner trying to correct and avoid pending dangers, as centrifugal force will force you out beyond the exit confines of the corner, into walls, cliffs, Armco barriers or cars.  You had better have an expert mastery of trail braking, steering and weight distribution, to the level of drifting/sliding the bike to salvage and possibly survive this situation.


Just the simple act of entering to the far outside of the corner, 
(upper green arrow), at a speed which allows you to steer the 
bike and “Hit the Apex”, sets up a safe exit point with no further 
Input from the rider and opens up the maximum amount of road 
usable in case of emergency, such as road debris, oil, soft or 
flat tire, etc..   If you are going too fast to hit the apex then you 
need to understand that going fast is about skill and discipline 
not risk taking and thrill seeking.  When you learn the skills in 
the article, you will soon find yourself dropping people on 
descents while being in control at all times and never feeling 
like you are pushing near or above your limits, with the ability 
to safely alter your line and brake lightly, (trail brake) to avoid 
surprises around blind corners, etc..  Get this right!  

The life you save may be your own. 



Be Safe, Have Fun and Go Fast
George Chester