So I am currently riding a 54cm Specialized Tricross Singlecross with a 110mm 0 degree stem that has one spacer underneath it on the steer tube. My tires are 32mm grifo clinchers that I run at about 35 psi.
So far this season I have raced about 5 times and have crashed/washed out at least once in almost every single one. It is similar each time in that I will be taking a turn at speed and the front wheel will turn in on me to wear it is horizontal throwing my forward onto my shoulder/hip. I have an entire season of cross under my belt and have been training a lot lately especially with handling. I thought lower pressure might help but during my last race I borrowed a teammates 34mm tubular, ran the pressure at like 28psi and still crashed this way twice.
A teammate recommended riding in the drops more, keeping my head up, and looking where I want to go which has helped a ton with taking turns at speed but I don't think that is the problem exactly as I am not having as much problems taking turns too wide or too slowly. Another teammate suggested raising my stem and/or getting something with a higher degree rise (possibly 5 or 10 deg).
I am building up a new bike and just got a new Alpha Q fork which is more vertical than my current fork so for some reason that might help too.
Do you guys have any other thought/suggestions or am I just been a noob road racer who needs to practice his dirt skills more and stop taking turns so hard?
Sounds to me like you are trying to rail the bike like on the road. You need to try to keep the bike more upright and turn with your knee swung out as a counterbalance. Take your turns wider and scrub speed into the turn not with brakes but by slowing. Just my two cents.
Also keeping weight on the outside leg in the turn puts more pressure downward increasing the contact patch of the tire to the ground. Are you washing out, falling inside the turn... or bucking over the bike to the outside?
First, don't build a new bike, those Singlecross' are badass and you're a badass for racing a SS.
But the real advice I'd give is to ride a mountain bike occasionally during the summer. You'll learn how to feel when the front tire is about to break loose, how to comfortably drift both wheels through turns and you'll learn how to handle a bike in every type of turn imaginable. The guys who only ride road and cross always suffer when conditions get weird, like in sand transitions and wherever there's loose gravel, singletrack that requires braking or uneven/offcamber grass turns. A mountain bike ride even just every other week during the summer will really hook you up. AND you won't be such a dork! just kidding. We're all complete dweebs when we put our lycra on and go racing around a park on skinny tire bikes, no getting around it...
Wow thanks for all the great advice everyone! My new bike is actually almost done already, its another single speed... ROCK LOBSTER!
I have focused on putting my knee out for counter balance and leaning leaning a bit more. Results have been fantastic. If I don't get a mountain bike by next year, during the summer I am going to put on fatty tires, flat bars, a bigger cog, and take it up into the headlands to learn how to really ride a bike.
Hey Hank, I think the reason you crashed in your photo and again later that race just below the parking lot was that you were being pushed by far superior skilled riders (ok, it was me, Troy, and that "superior" crap is totally BS, you beat me fair and square).
In all seriousness, I've seen the lines you've taken, and the only suggestion I would have is to not overload the front wheel entering tight turns - dump speed at the VERY last second with the front brake (only so much can be done with the rear) while the bike is upright, then when diving into the corners get totally off the front brake and use your body and rear wheel while pedaling to balance the weighting and pull the front end around as much as push it around the corner. I've seen you come in hot, overbrake with the front while initiating the turn, and then "push" the front wheel right over (beyond it's traction ability) going into a turn. Especially on the gravel, get off that front brake when the bike is leaned over, there's almost no chance of recovery once that front wheel breaks free.
The body movement and cornering is a skill rapidly learned on the MTB or 'cross bike and especially with the new bike, grab a few sticks, make a corner with boundaries, then go hotter and hotter until you get the feel - but ride on grass perhaps at Crissy Field because you should expect to dump a couple times.
For the record I only crashed once in that race (coyote point) and that was really the only crash I had last year. Popped my shoulder out and in but still finished 4th. Woot. My handling skills have gone down the drain for some reason this year. Maybe I am just pushing the turns a lot harder trying to keep up with the SSA guys.
Thanks for the lengthy advice. I read it like 5 times and think I have a good idea of what you mean but I will have to ask for a demonstration at Mclaren this weekend.
From a fellow noob:
From Hank's reply it sounds like you need to get all your braking done before the corner, and make sure you are apexing the corners right. You can really push the front end of a road bike hard, and even brake to the apex, like in a a crit race, but the traction is not there in CX. In Mt biking I made up a lot of ground in a collegiate short track race against one of my much younger teammates on the twisty downhill section by being smooth and apexing the corners right. It made me feel good when the guys in the faster classes were using my line through one of the trickier corners. Hope this helps.
All the tips really helped guys. I raced SSA at BASPS #1 and Mclaren in SF this weekend and while unfortunately I dropped my chain on the first turn of the first lap, I raced really well taking all the turns super tight. As those of you know that were there, it was a pretty technical course and I had a blast.
Thanks again for all the advice I hope other people having issues with taking turns find this thread.