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WORKING HOLLYWOOD

Taking Corbin Bleu a long way from 'High School Musical'

Cole Seeley taught the actor how to ride motocross for 'Free Style.'

October 18, 2009|Cristy Lytal

When motocross trainer Cole Seeley started teaching "High School Musical's" Corbin Bleu how to ride for the new motocross movie "Free Style," he put him on a Kawasaki 110, the perfect size for an 11- or 12-year-old child. If Bleu felt embarrassed by his diminutive wheels, he could always remind himself that Seeley started on smaller ones.

"I've been riding since I was about 4," Seeley said. "My first bike was a PW50. If I remember right, my parents hid it in my next-door neighbor's garage, and I did a scavenger hunt to find it. It was a very exciting day for me."

Motocross runs in Seeley's family -- his father and grandfather were amateurs on the track -- and the 19-year-old went pro this year. "I ended up 18th on the West Coast for supercross, and I had some good runs," he said.

Training wasn't entirely new to Seeley, who demonstrates moves at retired supercross legend Donnie Hansen's academy.

So when Bleu needed some pointers for the film, Seeley was happy to help.

"When I brought Corbin out, it was a little bit more than just teaching technique," Seeley said. "It was actually teaching from the bare nothingness of anything. But it was a lot of fun, and he picked it up really fast."

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, October 21, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 National Desk 1 inches; 21 words Type of Material: Correction
Motocross racer: The Working Hollywood column in Sunday's Calendar about professional motocross racer Cole Seely misspelled his last name as Seeley.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday, October 25, 2009 Home Edition Sunday Calendar Part D Page 2 Calendar Desk 1 inches; 18 words Type of Material: Correction
Motocross racer: The Working Hollywood column last Sunday misspelled professional motocross racer Cole Seely's last name as Seeley.

Track meet: Before getting air, Bleu had to feel comfortable on the ground, so Seeley took the actor to an open field to practice. "When he got the hang of it, we put him on a little track, so he could get the idea of going up jumps -- not necessarily jumping them but just getting the feel of everything on the track," Seeley said. "Every track you go to, the dirt's different, the lines form differently, the jumps are bigger or smaller, the corners are tighter or wider. And sometimes even the same track will be different the next time you go to it."

Up to speed: Shifting gears on motorcycles definitely takes some getting used to, Seeley said. "Generally, there will be five gears," he said. "The hardest part of learning how to ride is learning how to use the clutch -- how to take off [from the starting line] and how to pull it in when you stop. It's pretty much the same exact thing as doing it in a car, but it's done with your feet and your left hand. Your left hand is the clutch, and your left foot shifts. That was a big thing for Corbin to conquer, but he got it down. I mean, he stalled one time, and I went over to help him, and by the time I got there, he had already started it up and taken off!"

Table manners: Bleu took his initial leap off an approximately 20-foot tabletop. "It's pretty scary the first time, not having anything underneath you when you're on a 220-pound motorcycle," Seeley said. "Basically, what you do is go off [the lip of the jump], and as soon as you're in the air, you let off the gas, and it's smooth sailing. You just keep your weight even -- not too far forward, not too far back. When you land, you have to remember not to gas it, because you could crash if you get on it too hard when you're first learning."

Mud slides: "I didn't make it to set, but I heard that it was pretty muddy and that the water would go to the top of the surface and freeze and turn into ice -- but not thick enough to hold the dirt bike up," Seeley said of the conditions during the film's production on location in Vancouver, British Columbia. "In order to mud ride, you definitely have to have ridden on it before to be good at it. That's why Californians aren't considered the best mud riders. It's really tricky, and it's a huge hassle. I've ridden half an hour before in mud and spent about three hours cleaning everything."

Whip it: Seeley's favorite trick isn't recommended for beginners. "There's a trick called the whip where you just kick the back end of the bike out to the side, whichever side you're comfortable with," he said. "Depending on how big you kick it out, it can be really hard and really scary, but to me, it's cooler-looking than any other trick, including the back flip. And the whip, if you can learn to do that, you'll do 100 a day and never get sick of it. It's so much fun."

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calendar@latimes.com

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