As It Appeared in Street Bike Magazine!

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"Just What the Doctor Ordered..."

Craig Hightower Visits Dr. Wong's Riding Clinic (Issue 14 1995)

Yeah, sure. Wouldn't it be great to have a doctor ride with you all the time. Good insurance in case something happens, right? Not exactly reasonable though. Well, I know a Doc who's great to ride with, can help you with safety issues but is not exactly a medical doctor. In reality he's a chiropractor with a fair amount of riding time under his belt and has a great idea for helping other riders with their riding skills.

Ok, so you don't need help with your riding skills. You know what you're doing, you haven't crashed yet this year and anyways, what is there to learn about motorcycling anyway? You just get on and go, right? Wrong! Have you ever noticed how people seem to know everything there is to know about riding? Even the ones who've only been riding for a short time claim to be experts at riding. And yet those same experts often end up taking an unexpected slide along the pavement, showing that they really don't have the skills to match the talk. Ultimately, over time, we all come to a point when we realize that no matter how much saddle time we have, you never quite know it all. I must admit that I started life in the first category and with time have drifted over to the second. With age comes the wisdom, at least they claim that's the case. That's why I decided to go ahead and check out Doctor Wong's riding clinic.

Dr. Harry Wong is a chiropractor working in Redwood City, California and once a month he puts together a riding clinic. Normally, you would go to a chiropractor to have him work on your sore back or help you with some physical ailment right? Why would you go see a chiropractor to work on your riding? In this case, why not. Doc has been riding for a number of years and has ridden both on and off road on a variety of bikes. As he explains in his seminars, he has learned a variety of things about riding and some of these lessons have been learned "the hard way." (aka crashing).

In developing a clinic for street riders he has created a place for people to get together, talk, ride and learn. In this case, hopefully learn the easy way.

Many of Doc's lessons are taken right from the "Bible" of motorcycle riding, Keith Code's Twist of the Wrist is the source for much of Doc's material. On the day that I attended the exercise for the day was a lesson on cornering speed. One of the biggest fears of beginning riders is how to turn. Bikes do not always work the way you think they should. Entering a corner is not simply a turn of the handlebars in the direction you intend to go. Depe;nding on the speed and momentum of your bike you may need to apply pressure to the handlebars opposite of the direction your are going. That is , to turn left, you much apply pressure forward on the left handlebar. This is countersteering. Once you have learned the comcept and put it to practice yoiu must then determine what to do once you are in the turn. You may turn in and find yourself drifting to the outside of the corner. Try leaning the bike more. It may work, it may not. What happens when you run out of lean angle? Uh oh! Yeah, that's what it's all about. Cornering speed.

To develop the skill to read corners and adjust your speed before entering the corner Doc put together a ride to go through the day without using the brakes before or during cornering. The comcept is based on a practice used in the California Superbike School called fifth gear-no brakes. In the Superbike School the students were told to circulate the track staying in fifth gear and to not use the brakes at all. This forces you to not go too fast in thestraights because the only way to slow down is to let off the gas. What this does is it helps you develop the ability to recognize how fast you can go into corners. Doc's exercise is basically the same except any gear is acceptable and you are on public roads verses a race track.

On the day I attended I brought along a couple of good riding buddies. We were all racers or ex-racers and felt we knew what we were doing when at the controls of our bikes. It seems many others did the same as I since there were over 70 riders attending the clinic that day. Doc gave us all a brief intro to his background and the reasoning behind his developing the clinics. Primarily, he decided that there needed to be a forum for riders to get together and share experiences and techniques for riding. In this case, Doc wanted to share a technique fo rdeveloping the skill to negotiate corners without getting in too hot or loosing control. Something many of us have learned the hard way. (My first street crash was from entering a corner at a speed well above my skill level. I tossed the bike away at 50-60 mph. No broken bones but lots of pulled muscles. It was a hard but good lesson!)

The rider's broke up into groups of ten or so and each group was assigned a leader to provide guidance and critique. The route for the day was to go up over Skyling and onto the coastal mountain range between San Francisco and Santa Cruz. Some beautiful roads and great scenery. At first the pace seemed a little slow to me but after a few minutes I realized that with the restriction on brakes, we were moving along just fine.

Understanding a concept mentally and then using it physically are two very different things. I have thought about the no brakes drill before and in racing have always used practice days to work on isolating areas of the track to work on things like cornering speed but I've never actually put myself to the test. I had a great time chasing the leader down Tunitas Creek and then up and over the hill to Pescadero. I ended up using the brakes a handful of times that day. My only consolation is that our ride leader used his brakes in the sam places on at least half of those occasions.

All in all I'd say the experience was well worth the time and effort. Besides you can't beat the cost. Free! I only wish that Doc had been doing this ten years ago when I really needed a lot of this information. (It would have saved me some painful lessons!)

The clinic's are held roughly once a month and start at Doc Wong's office in Redwood City. For those interested in attending you can call him at (650) 365-7775. Doc is also putting on clinics for Dual Sport Rides, dirtbike rides (motocross/enduros) and may be branching out into other arenas.

Definitely check it out!

Doc Wong's Street Riding Clinic-Introduction and clinic dates

Riding Clinic details

Articles in City Bike, Street Bike Magazine, and others on the riding clinics

Keith Code at Doc Wong Riding Clinic

Comments by riders at the last Doc Wong Riding Clinic

Contacting Dr. Wong, registration, and the Doc-Ride mail-list

Go back to Doc Wong's Home Page