Skills and structured training for cornering within a peloton

I did my first road race yesterday as Cat 5 in the Bariani Road Race. I learned some very important lessons and things, skills that I need to work on. Within the peloton the effort was mostly easy and sustainable. However, the course had a fair bit or turns that had some significant gravel on the shoulders. I found, in my effort to be safe, that in every corner I lost a few places, until on about the 10th corner, I was spit out the back and was unable to bridge the gap. Further I found that as I was getting further and further towards the back of the peloton, the yo-yo ing and subsequent coasting followed by hard efforts was using matches I shouldn’t be burning. So besides a lot more racing and practicing cornering in a group there are probably some structured efforts that I should be working on too.

Any suggestions?

Sharpening your elbows. It’s a battlefield.

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There are a lot of threads on the forum discussing this issue…definitely worth checking out.

My biggest advice for you is to “Look up”. Most newbies tend to get laser-focused on the wheel in front of them (perfectly normal), but if you are looking up and ahead, you can better anticipate changes in pace, potential obstacles, turns, etc. Similarly, when going through turns, look through the turn and to where you want to exit. When you focus on the wheel / area in front of you, you end up taking poor lines and are very choppy (and inefficient) in corners.


Nice job getting through your first road race! Bariani is one of my favorite courses! :smiley:

Maintaining/gaining spots in the peloton is a hard skill to learn. If you have any group rides nearby, I think it would be worth going to them so you can get more comfortable riding with people up close and around you.

I really like @Power13’s advice of looking up during the race – even if you’re in the middle of the pack. Looking ahead at what’s coming up on the road and getting an idea of what riders ahead of you are doing will help you react/decide what to do in your own position.

As an example, if you look ahead and see the front of the pack is slowing up, that’s a good sign to start coasting rather than staying on the pedals and subsequently needing to jam on the brakes, just to surge back up to speed. Little moments like that add up over the course of a race and can save you a ton of energy.

Looking through turns to where you want to go is super key here as well. That’ll help you maintain a smooth line through a corner.

@TrekCentury mentioned elbows out, too, and sometimes you really do have to be assertive in defending your position. If your bars are in front of another rider’s, you control the situation. If they get their bars in front of yours, they control where you can go. Try to fight hard to keep your bars ahead of other riders and keep gaps around you as small as possible so as not to invite overtaking chances.

Keeping gaps around you as small as you can is a skill that will take some time to get used to. This gets back to doing group rides and more races so you can get more comfortable being close with other riders. If you have a riding buddy you can get together with, I’d recommend doing some bump drills so you know what contact with another rider feels like. Practice bumping elbows, rubbing shoulders, even intentionally crossing wheels (I’d do these drills on the grass and in sneakers instead of on pavement and clipped in so the consequences of falling aren’t very high). Once you know what contact feels like, you can start reacting to it appropriately and you’ll start to feel more in control of your bike and body.

Keep at it! I wouldn’t necessarily worry about doing any kind of structure to address the surging you experienced. Instead, focus as much as you can on being as smooth as possible and those surges will become much less of an issue down the line.


The one thing I’ll add is get comfortable cornering solo.

It took me quite a bit to get comfortable leaning the bike over as far as you need to to carry speed through corners. That was the limiter for me.