I'm not quite sure if this should somehow be broken up into two questions, but what can one do to take sharp corners at speed effectively, especially when you're nervous after having bad experiences riding?

I'm already familiar with common techniques for high-speed cornering on a theoretical level (cf. a video from the Global Cycling Network), but I was never really good at taking corners hard. Now, however, after being in an accident with a car and afterwards having only ridden a lot in miserable conditions (snow, ice, sand/gravel on the road because of the snow, etc.), I realize that I simply don't do sharp turns... and trying to force myself to do it makes me extremely nervous.

Possible aggravating factors

  • Ill-suited bike: Perhaps it's the one rideable bike I've currently got? — it's a lot lighter and "tighter" than my previous training bike, which makes it seem fun to ride, but it just feels squirrely... yet that could simply be me not used to it.
  • Interference from similar sports: Between the accident and the winter, I was on a motorbike quite a lot, and I feel much more confident on it than I do on a bicycle despite going over twice as fast. However, the thing weighs 220kg as opposed to maybe 13kg, and you hug a motorbike in a way you don't/can't on a pushbike. Also, when cornering on a motorbike, it's completely normal to use the rear brake to control your speed; I find I'm instinctively trying to do this on a pushbike but it just makes me feel weird, and I don't even know if you can do this safely on a bike, anyway

Are there no "baby steps" I can try to do in order to get myself to corner properly and aggressively and yet to trust myself/my bike at the same time?

  • 1
    I'm pretty sure we have a duplicate question for this. – Batman Feb 2 '17 at 23:21
  • Yeah, I was surprised I couldn't find anything, but maybe I'm using the wrong terminology? – errantlinguist Feb 2 '17 at 23:22
  • If you are nervous then it's not time yet. But you say relearning. If you did it before, how did you do it, why not return to that? – andy256 Feb 2 '17 at 23:28
  • Do you ride on the drops or hoods when descending and cornering? Can you borrow a MTB with their fairly wide bars? My best downhill segments date from two years ago when I was doing them on a MTB. Since changing to a road bike, I'm slower downhill mostly due to confidence and excessive braking. – Criggie Feb 4 '17 at 23:58
  • @Criggie my bike's brakes are pre-hood-braking days. I find it's not so much the amount of descent which scares me but rather how narrow the turns are combined with their blindness and also being covered with gravel this time of year... and then, even when I see a wide, open corner without any debris, my body tells me there'll be some right around the bend... – errantlinguist Feb 6 '17 at 21:23

I'm only posting this as an answer because it seemed long to comment.

But i would run some drills maybe once a week or whenever your free time allows. Go to a sports store and get some little multi sport cones, or use beer cans or toilet paper rolls or what ever else you have that won't hurt you or the bike if you run it over or fall on it.

Two drills that may help is a large slalom where you need to tightly weave back and forth. The other being a large circle.

Start with ample room where it is almost too easy, then as your confidence and speed increases, decrease the size of the shape or row, there by increasing the angle and lean that you need to use.

You could even go as far to set up a small sprint course either in grass or a parking lot depending on how you feel, and start tracking you time. That way your not racing anyone but yourself and your own head.

It may take awhile to build confidence but repetition is key, after a while that fear should slowly start to shrink. Likely you have some degree of PTSD from the event, some may think it's silly but its very real. I was in a head on 60mph collision (in a car not a bike) about 6 months ago, and unfortunately have to drive on that same 2 lane strip everyday to work, and still i get anxiety going through there, it's a 2 lane underpass, old road so it's narrow, with guard rails on either side so there is no where to go. Guy came into our lane and there was nothing we could do but wait to get hit. Point is, it gets better it just takes time and repetition.

I have also found it helped my cornering a lot to concentrate on my position relative to the bottom bracket, sounds goofy but consciously being aware of my bad form and working on it with similar drills helped me gain a lot of confidence, i had similar issues when i switch from a 2.35" mountain bike to a road bike, just didn't feel right.

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  • This is all excellent information; This is more appropriate as an answer than a comment. – errantlinguist Feb 6 '17 at 21:20

I've raced a bit and crashing is a part of the racing. After every crash - the worst one being actually on the road - riding headlong into a car - I completely lose confidence on the bike. Its like a fear of the next accident waiting around the corner.

I rebuild confidence by riding cross or mountain bike. I relearn all the bike handling skills - I tend to lose on the road bike. The advantages being no cars and a soft landing.

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I've lost count of the accidents I've had. The best way for me to regain confidence is to wear safety gear. But I'm a very rough rider at any time.

The safety gear gives me the confidence to go back to pushing limits.

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  • 2
    So its you who spoils all the statistics for safety gear. (ie an increase in protection is often overcompensated by a greater inclination to take risks, leading to a net increase in damages.) – gschenk Feb 4 '17 at 22:51
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    Possibly, probably not just me though, bike is to have fun on, otherwise I'd get a wheelchair – Kilisi Feb 4 '17 at 23:16
  • I'm tempted to get a full kit of MTB armor for riding my road bike just to see how the guys training on the weekends with their $6,000 carbon-fiber rigs react. – errantlinguist Feb 6 '17 at 21:19
  • That would cost more than my bso, my idea of safety gear is steel capped boots, jeans and gloves, rather than jandals and shorts. – Kilisi Feb 7 '17 at 1:13

Maybe it is just evolution's way of asking you to increase the chances of passing your genes onto future generations? Of course, it must be balanced against the greater number of potential mating partners who will be attracted to you as they watch you taking corners faster and lower, and seeing you in the top spot on the podium.

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