In Part 1 of Hacking Enduro, we went over all the fun stuff you get to buy before attempting to ride enduro. Now, we’re going to progress to, you know, actually riding your shiny, new enduro bike.
And we’re going to start with cornering, because one of the unfortunate realities of riding downhill is that sometimes you have to turn. I personally find this really annoying because the only time I feel like I am actually going fast on a bike is when I’m going in a straight line. And usually by the time I get up to speed the straight part is over and I find myself face to face with a turn or berm or a switchback and I have to slam on the brakes all over again. Sigh.
However, I’ve developed some coping mechanisms for being turn-phobic and now, after weeks of practicing, I sometimes (and guys, THIS IS A HUGE BREAKTHROUGH) don’t have to use my brakes in berms. Of course, the berms in question have to be exactly the right tightness and steepness for me to be able to pull this off, but it’s certainly an improvement.
So, what exactly is involved in cornering correctly?
For starters, WHERE YOU PUT YOUR FEET is incredibly important. This is one of those things that I had been doing wrong for years without realizing it and then, as soon as I corrected it, I improved immediately.
For large swoop-y turns and berms, your outside foot should be down, while your inside foot should be up, as shown in the photo below:
This will allow you to ground your weight into your outside foot and lean yourself and your bike into the turn. You will keep up your speed without getting that wobbling-out-of-control feeling. It takes some getting used to, but once you get it, you’ll really get it.
(Note: on large berms, this technique will actually slow you down. So, if you’re like me, your options are a) slow down a little bit and maintain control without braking, or b) slam on the brakes and freak out. This means you should still keep your outside foot down. If you’re a world cup downhill racer and you want to pick up speed through the berm, well, you should probably read a different blog post. And, um, do something else with your feet.)
For tighter turns and switchbacks, you will probably have to use your brakes. Whenever possible, try to slow down before the turn. That way, you can brake less (or not at all!!!) while turning, which will allow you to turn more smoothly, as your tires are less likely to break free. If you do have to brake in the turn (and you will), use mainly your rear brake. This is so that if your tire does lose contact with the ground, it is your REAR that goes sliding, so you just skid around the turn for a bit instead of falling over and suffering some sort of ghastly injury.
Another really important aspect of cornering is looking where you are trying to go. This is pretty basic (and also applies to riding horses, driving cars and navigating the grocery store), but it is sometimes difficult to execute. I, for example, have no problem doing this until I see something I really really REALLY don’t want to hit. Then I tend to look at it. Which, um, I don’t recommend.
(Don’t worry, other than developing a severe phobia of stumps, the rider survived the incident and has, in fact, ridden a bike since, as well as written several blog posts telling other people how to ride bikes. Not this blog post, of course. Ahem.)
Stay tuned for part 3 of Hacking Enduro — everything you ever wanted to know about manuals (and probably more…)
By Syd Schulz – Santiago, Chile – Enduro extraordinaire, traveler, writer, lover of life. She blogs at Nomadically Inclined.