Thursday, April 28, 2016
I went to a bike commute panel last night at the Simsbury public library. It was nice to meet some fellow Simsbury and greater Simsbury bike people. I talked about riding my bike and my bike and other bikes and Justin riding a bike and bike developments in Simsbury. Looks like Tariffville will finally get connected to the rest of the world. A rear some inexplicably popped while my bike was leaning against the wall. Nice group of people. Simsbury really is as into bikes as it claims to be.
Some people were talking about how great the league of American wheelmen's traffic skills class is. I had to bite my tongue because all the literature and descriptions I've heard about it makes me think it isn't too great. The big thing is the counter steer they're always talking about: turn left to go right. I hear that and think, "This is not a real thing."
But before I hit publish on this silly little screed, I figured I google "counter steer bike" to see what came up. It's all about motorcycles and there are like three bike people talking about it whom I've never heard of. One guy on pinkbike made this whole video about it, but then when he starts riding around cones, he leans the bike but I don't see any of this counter steer he described when stationary. All the counter steer experts are super exaggerated about how to do it and all I'm thinking is that nobody in their right mind would corner this way. In fact, I tried doing it on my way home around stuff in the rode and it totally slows down your ability to corner. Turning your wheel ~10 degrees the wrong way before corning helps nothing. Then I cornered naturally and thought, "There's ever so slightest shift in weight and bike orientation before you corner, but it's so de minimis and subtle that there's no reason to tell anyone to do it." (I have a lot of inner dialog when riding). There are definitely things about cornering that can be taught, like lean the bike not the you and lead with you shoulder, but the physics of the turn happen on their own.
Then I checked with Jobst Brandt (RIP) and he agreed with me. A bike is not a motorcycle and requires minimal input from you to change directions, so none of the motorcycle stuff applies. Countersteer happens naturally. Turn while you're riding with no hands and it just works. No input to the bars required.
Salem and I have discussed this at times, too, when we're not ragging on fat bikes. His theory is what they're really talking about setting up your line through the corner. So, you come out slightly (or maybe not so slightly) to increase the apex of the corner so that you can take corner quicker or without as heavy of braking. However, if you're riding so close to the side of the road that you need to swing out like a tractor trail to make your corner, you're way too far over. And, swinging out into the lane suddenly before an intersection or obstacle is gonna get you hit by a car. I tend to agree with him. So, don't ride so close to the curb and if you can't set up a corner with the ideal line, brake harder first.
In sum, I am highly suspicious of Traffic Skills 101.