How to Corner in Gravel

SE Coach and FoCo Fondofest promoter Zack Allison spends a lot of time training on Northern Colorado’s gravel roads…while cornering in gravel is instinctual to him, for a lot of folks, it’s something that takes a hot moment to learn if you are unfamiliar. Check out these tips from Zack (originally posted for FoCo Fondo but republished with permission):
Cornering in gravel is a battle against traction. On a road bike your tires grab the pavement, allowing you to really lean over on the bike in a corner. On gravel however, there’s not really any major bike leaning- you’d just slide out!
The same fundamentals of road cornering applies to gravel corning. Keep your weight on the outside of the bike, outside pedal down and weighted, brake before the turn. Before pushing your limits too far, learn the traction in your tires and your optimal tire pressure for your weight and the conditions.
If you are looking to push your gravel cornering limits, here are keys to consider:

  • Keep your upper body loose and relaxed
  • Find the fast line: outside-apex-outside
  • Feel the grip of your tires in the turn. You have to be able to move your balance around to as you find the balance between sliding and traction.

In road cycling, you have traction throughout the whole turn and only when pushing the very limits do you start to lose traction. In gravel the line is blurred. You will be turning and feeling where your tires are in and out of traction and you have to be able to move the bike upright and leaned depending on where your traction moves.
Practice makes perfect. Without crashing, take some hard turns. Also use your rear brake not your front. If you’re on the edge of your traction ability, when you tap the rear brake, your rear tire will instantly lose traction until you let the brake go. Skid around, make the rear come around a bit, learn what you and your bike can do before you have to test your abilities in a timed event or race.
Zack allison cycling coach headshotZack Allison earned his bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science at Colorado State University. As part of his education, he participated in many hands on exercise science practicum and internships, coaching many types of athletes, specifically cyclists.

Zack’s affinity for cycling started at the early age of 14 racing on the east coast. He quickly moved up the amateur ranks to race on the elite national circuit. This level of competition sparked his interest in exercise science, taking him to Colorado State University. While racing for his alma-mater and on various amateur teams he saw many podiums at the Collegiate Championships and Pro/Am events. Zack is currently living in Fort Collins, Colorado and has raced for Elevate Pro Cycling and currently races for Clif Bar.
Growing up with great mentors and coaches, Zack has a goal of paying it forward. He hopes to use his education and racing experience to bring success to Source Endurance and his clients. Zack also owns and operated the Source Endurance Training Center of the Rockies, a training and bike fit studio in Fort Collins, CO.