One of the key traits that set elite level performers apart from the rest of the population is their dedication to practice and their willingness to engage in alternative ways of improving.
A key piece of advice you will repeatedly hear is that you should do all of your braking before a corner. While there’s a large portion of this that’s true, it’s not exclusive and elite level performers would be crashing out in many (if not all) of their races if they didn’t brake in corners. There is a reason you hear the advice so often though.
The advice tends to come as, pretty much without exception, people learning to corner will brake too late as their cornering technique isn’t good enough to get them around the corner, let alone fire them out of the corner. As you’re cornering technique gets better though, you then have to relearn when to brake. Without doubt this will only come with a lot of time and practice on the trails but when you’re not on the trails you can practice too.
Sir Dave Brailsford is known for his concept of the ‘aggregation of marginal gains’. If you listen to the interview below (pay attention from 0.28 secs – 1.30) you’ll hear him explain how improving every aspect of influencing your riding performance by 1% can bring big improvements.
Driving games on games consoles provide a great tool for you to use to get some extra cornering tuition/practice in when not riding. Most driving games will have a training feature which will provide real time coaching on braking zones and apexing corners. There’s undoubtedly differences in cornering techniques between riding and driving and getting a virtual car around a corner isn’t directly transferable to the trails but the basic concept of braking earlier to exit faster can be enhanced. Utilise this alongside your trail practice and you’ll be able to up your game by 1%.
If you’re going to take the time to practice, practice like the elite.