1. We always stress that the street is not a racetrack and you should hold a little in reserve while riding. Nowhere is this more important than when entering a blind turn. Good street riding practice recommends that you scan three to five seconds ahead while riding. Cornering, however, reduces your scanning distance. Rounding blind corners such as those with bushes or rock faces obscuring your view, reduces it dramatically. Although these situations are best handled by lowering your entry speed, entering a corner with a plan can help you overcome surprises that may lurk ahead. Most experienced riders have stories of strange things they have encountered in the middle of the road. It's probably only a matter of time until the same happens to you.
2. When you encounter an obstacle midcorner, you have little time to react. Immediately determine on which side of the object you plan to pass. Then, to prevent target fixation, focus your attention on your desired path of travel. If the obstruction is dirt or gravel, selecting a car's outside tire track will usually provide the cleanest line through the corner. Often your avoidance maneuver will require only a slight change of line either inside or outside of the obstacle. However, if your speed is high enough that adjusting your line in this manner will send you into the oncoming lane or off the road, you will need to brake, too. Since traction for braking is limited while cornering, you need to stand the bike up prior to applying the brakes.
3. To achieve maximum application of the brakes while swerving, steering inputs must be separated from braking or you risk losing traction. The swerving and braking maneuver happens so quickly that, while the bike may be upright when you apply the brakes, your body will still be off the center of the bike. Don't worry. Let the bike move underneath you. Don't grab the brakes; apply the brakes firmly while recognizing your bike is probably not completely upright and traction will still be limited. If your front brake locks and starts to skid, immediately release then reapply the brake. Keep your eyes focused on your intended path of travel. Looking at an obstacle or off the road will only help you become intimately acquainted with them.
4. As soon as you have slowed your bike enough to complete the turn, release the brakes and direct the bike back toward your original path of travel. Since this maneuver takes less than a second from beginning to end, practice is essential. Find a lightly traveled road with a right hand turn (to give yourself some runoff if you make a mistake) with good visibility throughout the entire turn. Using chalk or tape, mark the section of the road you want to swerve around. Starting at low speeds, swerve around an imaginary object while cornering. Once you are comfortable, gradually increase your speed until you reach the point where you need to insert braking into the swerve. You'll be glad you took the time should you ever encounter a child's stuffed animal in the middle of your line.
This story originally appeared in the December 2000 issue of Sport Rider.