I have a strong memory of training with Keith Code and doing his (back then, not sure if he still does it) exercise where he had you select a single gear and ride the track without using brakes at all. He said a couple of club racers with a year's experience each had dropped a second from their best lap times using this method, and after trying it I could believe him.
His point was that the critical judgment for fast laps on a track was the maximum speed at which you could enter a corner and still make it around. The harder you are braking on entry, the harder it is to pick that speed and turn in at that speed, rather than slowing past that speed and entering the corner too slow.
Now that is track, and we are talking public roads and trail riding. Seems to me the point is worth even more off the track. Sure, cover the brake on turn-in, just in case. But if you are braking hard-ish all the way to the apex on the road, my guess is you could go faster and safer by getting your braking done sooner.
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