A crucial component of balance is being relaxed. Balance comes from a stream of information our body receives from the environment. Beyond the obvious components like visual cues, our bodies take in remarkably subtle bits of information as small as the sounds of wind passing our ears. All of this occurs on a subconscious level, and in order for our subconscious to exert control, we need to remain relaxed. Additionally, when we are tense, our muscles inhibit our body’s ability to receive valuable pieces of information.
So how do we relax? Practice and focus. Doing things right and doing them right repeatedly will lead to confidence. Confidence will allow more relaxation.
Choose Your Speed
A lot of cornering happens before you start to corner. Choosing a speed before the turn is crucial.
Try not to brake once you start cornering. If you did make a mistake during entrance and you need to brake, only use your rear brake while in the corner.
How sharp the turn is, how wide your lane is, how steep the terrain is, and the characteristics of the road surface are all important data points that will inform your cornering speed.
Choose Your Line
Use the whole width of the lane. Begin as wide as possible, hit the apex of the corner, and exit as wide as possible. This effectively eases the radius of the corner.
Keep your eyes up the road and look through the corner. Don’t focus on the apex, but focus on the exit line.
“Keep your eyes on the prize.” That is to say, look where you want to go. People who crash often do so because they are looking at the danger rather than looking where they want to be.
Properly positioning yourself on the bike will dramatically impact how fast a descent can be navigated.
Ride the drops and lower your center of gravity. Slide back on the saddle and lower your torso toward the stem.
During curves, always put the outside pedal down and weight the pedal. Lean the bike and not your body. This will pin the tire to the ground.
Gently weight your inside hand to help guide the bike through the corner.
Practice this principles until they become second nature. Work up progressively to improve your speed and technical abilities. There is a lot of room for “free speed” and work in this area will have a massive impact in your racing experience.