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Old 11-08-2005, 07:50 AM   #1
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Artist Painting Clear Creek Dirt Ride - A Doc Wong Clinic w/ pics, pics, pics

Nirvana. A simple word. How do you capture it? I had the pleasure of attending Doc (Harry) Wongís dirt riding workshop and clinic during Nov 4th & 6th . I have a 2003 BMW F650GS and decided I needed to push my dirt riding skills to use the enduro term properly with my bike. I ride mainly street roads on weekends, commute to work on it every day, and enjoy riding on dirt when the option arises. I knew the basic dirt ride positions and technique from my kid days of learning to ride motorcycles. However, I also knew I needed more training; especially on my heavy 650cc thumper.

Joe (JoefromSF on Pashnit) clued me into Doc Wongís dirt clinic. Right up my alley so I signed up. Best decision I ever made. The workshop portion was to discuss some fundamentals as prerequisite to riding the dirt down at Clear Creek. It was held at Docís medical clinic up in Redwood City, CA. Pretty packed house, all cool people, and I was glad to see Joe and then Tyler (Dangerous Curves and SBR) there. Doc is one of those people who can change your life. Very out going, friendly, enthusiastic, and a master communicator. I paid attention as he explained his 10 skills in detail.

1. BODY POSITION - where to put your body, weight distribution, foot
pegs, balance--sitting and standing
2. HANDLE BAR CONTROL: input only, arms up, hanging
3. HOW TO BE LIGHT ON THE BIKE letting the bike do what it needs to do
and you just guiding it.
4. UP HILL techniques - The easy way and the hard way
5. DOWN HILL techniques - Body position, braking and steering.
6. TURNING in the dirt - use of the pegs to steer.
7. ACCELERATING: use of stomach muscles not handlebars, light pressure
on the bars - standing-use of knees to pinch tank
8. WHEELIES Ė how to clear obstacles
9. Off CAMBER situations - peg weighting and steering
10. HOW TO MAINTAIN TRACTION IN LOOSE, KNARLY NASTY PLACES:
SLIPPING that clutch - Do bikes have automatic transmissions?
DISCOVER "The magic of a two-stroke'.
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Old 11-08-2005, 07:52 AM   #2
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Clear Creek Dirt Ride

Sunday came all too soon. Some Pashnit friends and I had planned a central CA street ride on Saturday , which turned out to be a spectacular ride. I left them at the crack of dawn on Sunday to get down to Clear Creek. I motored down Hwy 25 to Coalinga Rd in dawn light and found Docís group gearing up for the clinic portion. Joe (650 VStrom) and Mike (1200GS) were busy getting their bikes ready for off-road riding. Mike is visiting from Germany and is a super cool person, not to mention a very capable rider. Heís looking for some partners for a Baja run in January. The first pic has Mike on the left with his 1200GS and Joe to his right with VStrom 650 behind him. Then a KTM Adventure 950, BMW R1000, and a few Kawi KLR 650s showed up. Plus the Suzuki, KTM, Honda, and Yamaha dirt bikes ranging from 150-450cc rolled in on trailers and pickups. Great mix of bikes, very friendly people, go figure. Nirvana was shaping up.
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Old 11-08-2005, 07:53 AM   #3
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Clear Creek Dirt Ride

The 10 drills talked about in class were practiced in the morning around a short oval track. 40+ riders jockeying for space around the small track to practice the dirt skills was a few to many IMO. Very dusty, but everyone had fun honing in the drills. I dropped my bike hard on the next to last drill. Gassed it for the wheelie practice over a small jump only to find a bike went down in front of me. Luckily, I saw this unfold, hit the rear break and kicked my ass right. Unfortunately, I lost my front end, went over the handle bars, and my bike landed on my right leg pinning me to the dirt. A bunch of riders rescued me as I was stuck under my 450 lb bike with the engine roaring and other wheelie riders navigating around me. I focused all my energy, helped stand up the bike, and then forced it off the dirt track. I chilled out for a while, noted my right blinker and hand-guard destruction, and proceeded to laugh it off. I was soaking wet with sweat and totally caked in dirt. Unfortunately, I did not get any pictures of the morning drills.
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Old 11-08-2005, 07:57 AM   #4
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Clear Creek Dirt Ride

After the lunch break, we split into groups. I was tempted to bail out as my left wrist and right ankle were throbbing pretty badly. Then Doc Wong and Ed Tobin discussed the afternoon ride through the Salinas Rambler and Clear Creek areas. I looked at Joe and Mike, and regained my spirit. No way was I going to miss this adventure. We all formed into manageable groups based on experience level and desire. The bigger bikes all stayed together and were led by Ed Tobin of Salinas Ramblers club. Ed is in the midst of a long heroic battle to keep the Clear Creek area open for dirt riding . The more I learned about the issue, the more I am convinced he is fighting the good fight for all of us riders. Check it out for yourself, as Iím sure youíll all want to donate to help with the legal battles and forced land use studies. Off we went up a rather steep, rutted, bumpy trail. Ed had called this a graded road, so I could only imagine what might lay ahead as I rode the pegs and navigated over the ruts and around the larger rocks We stopped at this opening to catch our breaths.
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Old 11-08-2005, 07:59 AM   #5
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Clear Creek Dirt Ride

Our first destination was to visit an old mercury mine. Ed provided us with a detailed history and geology of the Clear Creek area. Very enlightening, as I learned these mercury mines were critical to the gold smelting process during the 1849 California gold rush. Note the narrow steep trail we had to navigate, rather typical.
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Old 11-08-2005, 08:01 AM   #6
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Clear Creek Dirt Ride

We continued to climb up the dirt trails to another clearing. This was once the site of a old mining town. Ed took time to educate us some more on the history and trail system seen from this vantage point. Our next destination was to the top of San Benito mountain about 2 miles away, the highest point in the County.
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Old 11-08-2005, 08:03 AM   #7
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Clear Creek Dirt Ride

We gathered at the San Benito summit for a spectacular over view of Clear Creek and the surrounding area. Off to the right is the Panoche valley and town of New Idira. Some nice shots of Ed (red shirt and ball cap) and his killer Suzuki 400 enduro. The rest of the ride back down to Clear Creek (river) and Coalinga Rd was also both challenging and fun for me. Now the experienced dirt riders on lighter bikes with knobbies taking on the more difficult single track trails would probably rate our route as pretty easy. For me, it was a real accomplisment on my stock dual-sport F650. Iíd like to thank Ed Tobin again for leading our ride, taking the time to educate us on the area, and to the other riders who made this such a memorable experience. Iíll be back, and plan to donate some money to help fight the BLM, EPA, and special interest law suites. We rode for about 4-hours over some of the most beautiful dirt riding country I've seen to date.
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Old 11-08-2005, 08:04 AM   #8
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Clear Creek Dirt Ride

One final picture looking east toward the central valley and Fresno, with the Sierra in the background. Nirvana achieved, letís help keep this area open
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Old 11-08-2005, 11:20 AM   #9
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Re: Clear Creek Dirt Ride

Great stuff, Tom! You have inspired me to get myself signed up for a Doc Wong clinic - much more convenient now that I live the Bay Area. I'll start with one of his street clinics, and once Sue gets some more miles maybe she'll do one too. And I'm still looking at getting an adventure/dualsport bike, so that clinic you took looks like a real winner.

Great post!!!

Cheers,

Kurt
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Old 11-08-2005, 12:55 PM   #10
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Re: Clear Creek Dirt Ride

Excellent report, Tom! Great to hear how much the clinic meant and how you benefitted from it. Hope you're OK after the get off... we old-farts-in-training take a bit longer to heal, as I've recently learned.

Love the pix! Glad you had the time to get some shots of the beautiful riding country. So when we meeting up for a ride out there?

Thanks for the outstanding write-up, Tom!
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