How could Clutch control have such a profound and emphatic effect on a person’s ability to negotiate an obstacle on a bike? Surely a clutch is just a clutch? A lever you pull in to change gears? Right? Wrong!
Winter rain and mud on moss and lichen covered rocks. Challenge accepted. Hard Enduro riders Kat, Sam, Mick, Jason, Halen and Adam watch...... and learn fast.
Gas Gas Hard Enduro rider Neil Price speaks about the Clutch as if it is some kind of deity: the ethereal appendage of a motorcycle. And after a session or two with trialandenduroskills.com you too will chant the mantra of the Hard Enduro rider: ‘Praise be to Clutch’.
If your approach to riding is not dissimilar to how a zombie attacks a bucket of livers, then let Neil Price exorcise your dirt bike demons. He will cleanse you of all you thought you knew and prepare you for the learning of all you did not know.
But to do this, you need to let go.
To find traction and elevation you MUST let go and accept you don't know what you thought you knew about dirt bike riding. If you can do that then you open yourself up to a new riding experience: to ride better, ride different.
Step 1) Learn Clutch control. The most fundamental thing that you will take from training is that the action of the clutch is infinitely quicker than the action of the motor. When you are riding single trail this is important. Tenths of a second count and the distance between you and an obstacle disappears fast. A power mono on any dirt bike takes time and requires considerable distance and those are two commodities that are at a premium in enduro. The bike might thunder forward like stink, but the front will only rise as the power climbs up the curve to its peak. Alternatively, a clutch mono is instantaneous, making it the most logical solution to any obstacle when time and space are limited. You’ll be shocked, but pleasantly surprised to learn how high you can lift the front over such a small distance. Clutch is not just a lever, it is a wand one waves to instantly change the attitude and trajectory of a bike.
Think Clutch, think Harry Potter, think "wingardium leviosa".
Step 2) Body position. Think you can ride a nice tight figure eight? Learn body position and placement over the bike and you will go from International Roast Caters Blend to 100% free trade Arabica quality riding. Understanding the most basic geometry of body, bike, point of contact, gravity and centrifugal force, as drawn on the white board by Neil with all of the finesse of a playschool delegate, will enable you and your bike to turn a figure-of-eight on a dinner plate.
Body position enables you to lay the bike down further, which makes it turn sharper but maintains the geometry of the forks and front tyre so the point of contact continues to trail the pivot point of the forks. This massively improves performance of the tyres and suspension on the dirt you are riding. Your initial reaction to falling into a corner would be to speed up. But that only results in an exit on the wrong trajectory destroying any chance you have of pinning the next corner. After some training you will know to simply lean the bike over more and counter that lean with your body. This will give you so much confidence in your front end and its grip charging into a corner. Front-end wash out is a dirt bike rider’s scariest monster under the mattress. After training it wont be and you will shave seconds of your lap times.
Think Happy Gilmore and Chubbs Peterson: "It's all in the hips....it's all in the hips". Except, it is all in the legs, knees, shoulders and arms as well.
Step 3) Body position as it relates to hill climbs. It is an incredible challenge to fight the urge to lean forward into a hill. But stop……..for a good second; think about it. What are you really doing? Do you remember the toilet scene from “Something About Mary”? If you don’t, don’t worry. Trust that that is about how embarrassed you may feel when you realise that leaning forwards up hills takes all the traction potential out of the back wheel; zero traction equals zero drive which equals zero progress. The Master, Mr Price repeats ad nauseum (and for good reason) “Without traction you have nothing”. Sit back and keep your mass behind your pegs. Lay forward and keep your centre of gravity low. Feather that clutch with that single finger to give you just the momentum you need as your motor revs freely to give you as much but as little as you need to maintain 100% traction whilst you chug up a hill that goats would think twice about. And if you have to put your feet down, put them down lightly for stability only. Be delicate, like a ballerina, and stay light on your toes. Don't stomp you size 12 Spidis hard into the ground because all you will do is lift the back and break traction.
Think (wo)Man from Snowy River. Kat Kingsley 'delivering it' rather than 'sending it'.
At the end of the training one common outcome will emerge: it is better to know how to ride your bike better than it is to throw money at your bike hoping that it will take you for a better ride. So, the next time you think about spending $174.95 On Steg Pegz and $239.95 on some Pivot Pegz remember that these go fast bitz may make your bike look better, but they wont make your bike any faster. Spend the money on training instead and get more out of your bike than you imagined it could deliver.
A testimonial from a previous trainee that has done Dakar and more desert safaris than he can count: “Best bling I’ve ever bought for my bike”.