Why load a turn?
Before you try to load your turns, you should know how to carve turns smoothly and with great balance.
When you corner with static weight, you have a finite amount of traction. It’s hard to know how much traction you have, so you ride in a constant state of worry: Do I have enough traction for this turn? Do I have more traction than I’m using? This constant questioning makes your riding careful. Tense. The more tense you are, the worse you ride. We all know this.
When you load your bike in corners, you increase cornering traction. The more powerful, skilled and committed you are, the more traction you can generate.
You should load your road bike too!
- When you corner with static weight, you have limited traction.
- When you load your bike in corners, you have theoretically unlimited traction.
You should load every turn you make! The question is, in which direction should you apply the force?
Applying force vertically squashes the bike downward. This generates cornering traction. The ensuing upward rebound can be used to pump or hop bumps. We call this loading the turn.
Applying force horizontally presses the bike sideways into a turn and rebounds it to the opposite side. This snaps your bike between corners, and it also generates speed. We call this pumping the turn.
Applying force at an angle (both vertical and horizontal) squashes the bike down and sideways into the turn and rebounds it up and to the opposite side. This creates traction and speed, as well as energy to snap between turns and pump/hop/jump out of turns. When good riders pump turns, they’re using both vertical and horizontal components.
While this turn has a bank, the surface is loose, and I’d rather not drift. The solution: Load the bike heavily. Photo by YannPhotoVideo.
When a turn is loose, slippery or otherwise sketchy, you need to load mostly vertically. If you’re worried about making the turn, drop your outside pedal as I did in the above photo. This creates maximum traction but minimum acceleration.
When the turn has plenty of traction or has a berm, you can load more horizontally. If you have confidence in the turn, keep your feet level. This creates more pumping power.
This moment is full commitment, full anger, full attack. Feet level for maximum power. Photo by Yann PhotoVideo.
When the turn has bumps in it, you’re working the turn and bumps at the same time. Use the timing of the turn to butter the bumps, and vice versa. This is when riding gets really fun.
Heavy and turning before the water bar, light and straight over the water bar, heavy and turning when you land. Photo by YannPhotoVideo.
Right now we’re talking about loading turns vertically (we talk about pumping turns horizontally later). Next are some ways to create vertical pressure.