Doc Wong Ride Topics:
Riding and Negotiating Difficult Roads

Tips from the Doc:

I thought I'd share this tidbit of information with you. I wrote it in response to someone requesting that I re-route monthly Doc Wong Riding Clinics to avoid Tunnitus Creek Road which would qualify as a somewhat challenging road.

As you ride, you may notice that there are roads you prefer and roads you don't prefer.

The most common "non-preferred" roads are roads which present an ever increasing series of hazards. Most typically these are roads which have potholes, gravel, steep downhills and decreasing radius corners (corners which get tighter at the end).

However you may notice that there are riders who don't mind these types of roads and actually feel that they are a welcome challenge to their day's riding.

Three months ago after the storms on a Doc Wong Riding Clinic, between Cloverdale and Gazos Creek, I was leading group one, came around a right hander and ran right up into a small creek that washed out part of the road. No time to think, I took a guess at the best line, gased it, weight on the pegs and got thru the section easily. I must have made huge splash as my bike was pretty wet and the rest of the group slowed down big time! It was fun! ;-)

If you tour California, running into these types of roads are inevitable. Even on some of the best roads, there will be occasional times when you will be confronted with a non-optimum road conditions. We saw lots of mud, rocks, slides and some pot holes on Hwy 9 after the last storm.

Such roads really do bring out riding errors otherwise not so apparent. You need to ride slower than usual to avoid riding above your skill level.

Here are some tips for negotiating any steep downhill, pothole ridden, steep downhill road:

1. Use your knees and legs to grab onto the tank.

This will keep you from putting any weight on the handlebars which is a very common error.

Once you ride downhill and use the handlebars to support your body, your steering becomes difficult and one feels out of control. This will be especially apparent when you hit a pothole or some other bump on the road. By having your hands in constant pressure (incorrect riding technique) on the handle bars, the force of the bump will be instantly transmitted to the rider's body lessening control.

2. When coming up upon rough surfaces, decrease "sitting" on the seat. I.e. use your legs and place more pressure on both pegs.

This will effectively lighten the contact between your butt and your motorcycle seat. Thus allowing your motorcycle to move around under you instead of throwing you around. The key here is that if your bike needs to move around, you want to be somewhat independant of that motion.

3. All good riding techniques still apply on difficult corners.

Remember that it's usually not the type of road that's causing you the problem, but your lack of skill and knowledge that is the problem. Going in more difficult roads can be invaluable in gaining riding confidence. Ask questions and work on your technique and you will continue to improve your riding.

4. Take the easy road.

Of course if you really feel that a particular road is over your head, don't ride it, instead, take easier roads, increase your skills steadily and tackle the more difficult roads when you are ready. Having a good riding buddy is a very big plus!

–Dr. Wong

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