SoCal V NorCal Clinics and Bikeskills/WTB Contest #3

by robhoward on March 15, 2009

While there’s really no contest going on between our SoCal and NorCal clinics, we thought it would be interesting to point out the differences between the clinics, SoCal instructor Joe Lawwill and NorCal’s Jiro Nakamura, the locations, etc. We’ll tell you what question will decide who’s clinic you take, as well give you another chance to win some great FREE stuff from Bikeskills in Bikeskills Contest #3. So on to the constrants and comparisons, aided by video, and information on how to win big…

Tale of the Tape: World Cup Veterans Compared

The irony of comparing Joe Lawwill and Jiro Nakamura as competitors, people, and instructors is that they’re pretty similar. While that’s not the case with Bikeskills Bend’s Paul Thomasberg or Bikeskills Central Valley’s JP Sickler and J&J (Joe and Jiro) right now, we’re talking about Joe and Jiro and we’ll talk about those other characters later.

Joe Lawwill. Bikeskills SoCal. World Cup Veteran. World Champion. Second Generation Professional Cyclist.While there are many people that know Joe Lawwill from mountain biking, it seems just as many know of Joe’s father, the legendary motorcycle racer and inventory, Mert Lawwill. In fact, it deserves mention that Mert is the only person to be a member of both the AMA (American Motorcycle Association) and Mountain Biking halls of fame.

The short story on Joe’s racing career is: it spanned over a decade during which time Joe did it all: cross country, dual slalom, four cross, and of course, downhill where his silky smooth style put him on many a podium, and earned him a world championship. There is, however, one thing that differentiates Joe from almost every other professional downhiller of his time: he never suffered an injury in practice or competition that required medical attention. Something to think about when you’re selecting a clinic and instructor!

Although Joe was often chided for being a bit salty about the cycling industry and competition, one man’s candid comments are another person’s true “insider’s story” and that’s what we feel Joe has always put out. We have an interview with Joe Lawwill from a few years ago that is as valid today, as it was then and is something that anyone thinking about a career in mountain bike racing (or any action sport for that matter) would be well advised to read (likewise for parents, coaches, educators, etc.) It might not be what you want to read or hear but something you should at least read. To do so, click here.

Jiro Nakamura. Bikeskills NorCal. Like Joe Lawwill, Jiro is tall, rides with smooth, controlled power, and, has never had a serious injury in training or competition. While Joe and Jiro both labored away for many years on the World Cup racing tour, and likewise competed in an era where one had to race in multiple disciplines that ranged from fitness-first cross country to skills intensive downhill events, they are examples of people taking very different roads post racing.

Jiro’s racing past literally spans the time period from when mountain bike racing become legitimate, cira the mid 1980s, to the present. Jiro was there for the very first Mammoth Mountain Kamikaze downhill event, and most recently, took part in what could be part of an exciting new trend in mountain biking, “Enduro racing” where you’re free to compete, or just ride long, epic venues for the fun of riding on great trails… sort of like a Downieville. He even wrote a really great article about it in Decline Magazine a few months ago. Click here to read it.

Jiro: Man of Cognitive Science

When Jiro left the World Cup tour, he headed for the UC Cal Berkeley campus.  What’s equally interesting (and of value to Bikeskills and his students) is what Jiro studied at Cal: Cognitive Science. “Cog Sci” as it’s called, is a relatively new, interdisciplinary are of study that combines the hard sciences ncluding physiology, computer science and combines them with psychology and philosophy with a bit of mathematics ensuring all sides play fair. You can read more about this interesting field of study by clicking on this link. So where you think in terms of your position being the third derivative of acceleration, or, that you exist because you are self aware, there’s a good chance that Jiro will understand you – and you him…

So, What is a Bikeskills SoCal Clinic Like Compared to a NorCal Clinic, and How Do I Decide Which One to Take?

The comparison – assuming you are comparing the same clinics, say a Bikeskills “Trail Riding Clinic” – is really one more of the terrain where the clinic takes place. Sure, Joe Lawwill tends to be a bit more “by the book” with his laminated “Dos and Don’ts” and his attention to detail that is an outcropping of the discipline required to be a successful World Cup racer. And there’s no way that spending four years at Cal Berkeley can’t have an affect: Jiro is always searching for what resonates with an individual student and how he can best communicate with him or her. But both Jiro and Joe measure their success a student at a time and both get rave reviews.

As for terrain, NorCal’s terrain and clinic locations are a bit more varied than SoCal’s – especially during the fall through spring when you’re more likely to encounter wet and slippery conditions. But dealing with SoCal summer heat require it’s own skills as does dealing with terrain that can be powdery and loose one minute and concrete-like adobe soil the next. And that’s how you decide which clinic – NorCal or SoCal – to take: where you are and plan to ride.

How About Some Video Action…

Starting With the Seldom Seen, Student’s Video. Here’s Joe Conducting a SoCal Clinic

Now For a Little NorCal Action…

Here Jiro Leads a Small Group During a Trail Riding Clinic at Camp Tamarancho

Bikeskills Contest Number #3:

Here’s what you win can win in the contest: First Prize, Your Choice of a set of WTB Tires or Seat. Second Prize, a WTB MX Tire (2.3 or 2.1). Third prize, your choice of a set of WTB grips

And here’s what you have to do to win, but first, contest number three is going to require a bit more work on your part as the first two were won in about… well, real fast. So, you’re going to have to answer three questions and the first one that gets all three right to us will win and get those tires or a seat of their choice. Here are the questions:

1) Name the feature that is found on all WTB Saddles: Love Lane, Love Channel, or Love Canal.

2) What Classic WTB Saddle is “back by popular demand after a six year hiatus?”

3) Which WTB tire is is quite possibly the ultimate All Mountain tire? A tire that the 2.3-inch version excels on treacherous descents and high-speed chutes while the 2.1-inch thrives on epic, day-long trail rides?

4) What WTB product do World Champions Brian Lopes, Gregg Minnaar, Joe Lawwill, Nicolas Vouilloz, Rachael Lloyd all use on their bikes?

5) How many times has WTB’s Bikeskills Jumping Video (all postings) been viewed on YouTube?

Know the answers? Well, send them right now to:


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