I would put money on the fact that a lot of riders (especially those that have taken any time to learn correct track craft) will be able to point out roughly where they want to be in the middle of any given corner.
However, while they may easily be able to point out an apex and where they want to be, how many of those do you think would actually be able to hit it time and time again?
Many would tell you that sometimes they can. Other times they can’t.
But what is it that’s going on that causes this inconsistency? And what can we do to get us closer to where we want to be?
Before we get to that, let’s quickly recap what an apex is and why it’s so important.
On a basic level and in track riding terms, the apex is the point where you will be (or rather, should be) closest to the inside of the track. Also known as “clipping point”.
It is the point you meet the inside of the track in your efforts to create a widest radius arc for the turn.
However, the apex should mean more to you than a simple geographical location.
The apex is the point at which you can begin to utilise the part of the corner that is often the most important. The exit.
And while it isn’t true for every cornering situation, more often than not it is from the apex where you can begin to reduce the lean angle of the bike and, in turn, begin to increase throttle application.
For a lot of riders, they will be satisfied that they’ve hit an apex just by being somewhere close to the inside of the turn.
In reality, having your head somewhere near the inside kerb is a lot different than having the two contact patches close to the inside kerb.
Some riders will know that they need to be closer to the apex but simply won’t know why they’re not hitting them.
Unsurprisingly for the majority of riders it comes down to one of the most important skills for fast track riding.
If you’ve studied anything on track riding vision before, you should know that we want to be aware of our apex well before we reach it.
You may already be doing this, but be honest with yourself…
Are you looking out for an exact spot on the track on your approach to the corner and apex?
You may not see it from way back in the braking zone (just before you steer) but are you looking at a solid point as you begin steering and making your way to the apex?
Many riders will be correctly utilising the technique of looking to into the turn before committing to it, but they will also be looking vaguely into the turn without looking at anything specific.
They’re looking at a big open space in the middle of the corner. And what happens? They travel into that space.
The result is that their line moves through that space close to the apex, but it doesn’t hit it as good as it should.
You may think that it’s not that big a deal that you aren’t able to hit the apex perfectly and only miss it by a few feet.
But by missing the apex in this way you are creating two disadvantages for yourself for each corner.
The differences we’re talking about here may only be slight depending on how close you’re getting already, but across a lap all of that time lost by later throttle application and extra distance travelled soon adds up.
Over a fair sized track we are talking about seconds being lost here.
As I eluded to above, you want to be looking at the exact spot where you want to go.
In the braking zone and near your steering marker you may not see that definitive point, but if you set yourself up right you can eventually become pinpoint accurate with hitting apexes.
For example, let’s say that you’ve looked into the corner just before you commit to it.
At this point you may only be able to see the end of the kerb on the inside.
With your eyes still fixed on that kerb as you hit your steering marker and you begin steering, you will begin to see more and more of it as you move closer to it.
In little time you’ll be able to see exactly where you want to go, and you need to stay focused on that exact spot until you are sure you’re going to hit it.
After which you will look up and out to the exit.
Once you know exactly where you want to hit the inside kerb, get creative and find visual clues to not only help you find the apex, but also to let you know when it’s going to appear in your view. The more confident you are in your trajectory through the middle and out to the exit of the corner, the more decisive you can be with your actions and the less mistakes you’ll make.
This means getting back to the throttle at a more ideal time and fewer line adjustments made mid-corner.
Vision truly is the key to putting yourself exactly where you know you should be. It is the basis of a consistent rider.
Taking that and the above advice into consideration and putting it into practice will soon have you crushing every apex in site.
Saving yourself small (or possibly large) amounts of time in the process.
Head Photo by Mark Walker
Where and How to Practice Getting Your Knee Down at the Track
The “In Too Fast” Feeling: What Causes it and How to Reduce it
What Does it Mean to Be Smooth in Track Riding?
Move Inside, Not Down: How Hunkering Down Creates Body Position Issues