Monday, September 22, 2014

Sometimes you have to pause, breathe and take time to find your centre.

Last week was rough.  The news of a friend's passing hit me like an out of control runaway freight train.  Loss is a hard thing to deal with and as humans we are hard wired to cope with emotions whether they be good, bad, or sad.  We are survivors, we carry on, we adjust, we breathe, we pause and find our centre, then carry on with the business of living.  We are resilient strong creatures, but also weak and vulnerable at the same time.  I am still sad, I feel like I have lost the heart for blogging, but I live in hope that my spark will return, given a little time to chill and hit the emotional reset button.

I think what it boils down to is that there are a lot of things on my plate and last week I didn't have time to catch my breath and process all the emotions and stresses I have felt, not only of Bob's passing, but also with my hectic schedule balancing work/home/family and training.  It's been a roller coaster 3 weeks with trying to tune-up skills and attempting 'perfection', or my perception of what perfection is.  I have realized that as 'perfect' as I want to be or what my training demands, I am human and I will make mistakes and that is a large part of what makes us adaptable. I also think through those mistakes it will make me a better instructor and my students will take some solace in the fact that I may have tapped a toe in a ride demo. It also brings me back to their reality of the stress they are feeling during the steep learning curve they are undergoing, so maybe this is a good thing this range of emotions I am feeling. I also know that practice makes perfect and it generally does become second nature. I am also sure the deeper I get into the process I will become more comfortable in my new found role.  I am learning so many things and part of the process is letting my guard down and rolling with the moment.  I am enjoying it and seeing the smiles on the students faces makes it magical. I also think I just need to get on my bike and ride for me and not anyone else, so if it's sunny this weekend I am going to take to 2 wheels and get my knees in the breeze for fun. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

My grand scooter/motorcycle adventure with Bobskoot and the RTE Scooter Crew

As I reminisce, I sit here in disbelief and still can't get my head around his being gone. I remember this adventure with a smile and think how wonderful Bob was at bringing complete strangers together who shared the passion of riding scooters and motorcycles.  And contrary to popular belief the two groups of riders can blend and ride harmoniously together and have fun. The famous pink crocs are in this video.  

Here is the link to Bob's post on his blog after our riding weekend. A girl feels pretty special when she is surrounded by 20 men and them following behind her on her bike. Little did they know I am directionally impaired and was winging it all day long.   Yup it was a blessed day and as Bob said "I wish I could ride Saturday again, again and again.", I do too, you are gone too soon.   (and yup I am Mistress Scooterpie) 

Bob is the man in the middle of all the scooter peeps.  

Goodbye Bob my dear friend - Bobscoot of West Coast Scooting blog

Today my heart is heavy and sad.  I found out my friend passed away while on a trip of a lifetime.  I am sad and still in disbelief at his passing.  My condolences to His wife and family.  Your husband was a kind, gentle and generous soul and will be deeply missed by all who knew him and those who followed his intrepid adventures on his blog.  I will greatly miss his friendship.  
This was May 2012 when Bob brought over the Ride To Eat Scooter Crew to ride the Island with me.  Oh what a fun time we had! 
Bob was known for his signature pink crocs.  I will always think of him when I see pink crocs.  

Farewell dear friend, you will be greatly missed and I know you are in heaven and getting everyone up there to wear pink crocs, and riding scooters or motorcycles.  xo miss you already.

**I found this link when I was remembering my ride with Bob & the RTE scooterists.  I remember this day fondly and as Bob said in his blog post "I want to ride Saturday, again, again, and again" 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Onward and upward - motorcycle instructor trainee Diva Dar

This weekend I observed the final section of the Novice motorcycle course and now I move onto observing and riding the traffic course next weekend.  It has been a thrill to see the students progress from non-riders to new motorcyclists.  The instructors I observed were inspiring teachers who brought out the best in their students and coaxed along those who were fearful, including myself.  

I have been battling with the motorcycle skills assessment test (MSA) off and on this past week.  I did 2 runs Thursday night, the first was a disaster the 2nd run with no faults (perfection is expected as an instructor), but I chalked it up to nerves and a case of traffic cone induced anxiety.  It's amazing how big you can make things in your head as soon as you utter this one word "TEST" and your peers are watching. I gleaned some excellent information from these sessions and I learned a little bit about myself as well and was way out of my comfort zone. I am also going to be mindful of the anxiety level of my future students and work very hard to make the learning environment healthy and as relaxed as possible, let's face it learning to ride is stressful.  Add the element of risk you're dealing with when learning to ride and it creates an environment of high anxiety, but for those who hang in it's all worth it when they go out for a ride on some nice twisties.
Feeling triumphant! 

Saturday was a day of anchoring learned skills from the previous week and adding to the difficulty level of those skills.  It truly is remarkable that just a mere 2 days in a course students were letting it rip out on the range. 

Lane changing and emergency stops were on the menu yesterday, all students were competent and very comfortable in this new skill.  It was awesome to see the 'Wow! I can't believe I just did that look' followed by a ginormous smile and in some cases a whoop for joy. I think that's going to be my favorite part of instructing.  
All I can hear in my head is the song "Born to be wild" when I look at the students. Again today I played "squirrel" and was dodging to reset fallen cones. There is a lot going on in a confined space with 7 students running manoeuvres. 
All lined up and ready to roll for quick stops.  Everyone was solidifying their skills and things were all coming together and the first building blocks of becoming a motorcyclist in place.  Everyone did well on their written exam and on Sunday it was all about practicing and running the MSA.  Nervousness was making it's presence felt, but with encouragement all students were successful and are ready to take their traffic course and book their road tests.  It was thrilling to see this....

Sunday, September 7, 2014

A Novel approach - my 1st weekend as a novice motorcycle instructor trainee

It was my first full weekend as an instructor trainee. What a weekend this has been! It's been exhilarating, anxious at moments, exhausting and joyous all at the same time.  Most of all magical!

I always find the process of becoming a motorcyclist fascinating and a little awe inspiring as well. because for the most part, because a large number of students have never even looked at a bike, let alone rode one.  Within a day they are moving the bike from being pushed by another student to moving it under power in 1st gear and learning about friction zone, braking, and control.  The instructors I was observing were patient, professional, quick with praise, and earnest with critique which was done in a way that students took the information and moved forward with positive outcomes.  I also changed a broken brake lever for the first time after a student's bike decided to have a wee nap, much to her chagrin. Who knows maybe wrenching may be in my future after all.

I enjoyed sitting in on the novice theory on Saturday, it was a great refresher for me, and it's where you see other components come together for students.  It reaffirms my belief that knowledge is power and that as motorcyclists you can never have enough of that to stay safe.  

Day 2 was pretty exciting because now that students have been shown the basics and are gaining a little confidence, instructors are building on the steps from the day before.  Today is the day they get the first taste of what it's really like to ride because they are learning shifting up into higher gears, learning about what the bike can do and counter steering or push steering as we call it.  They are becoming masters of the u-turn and the importance of scanning and shoulder checking. They are learning the art of riding and acquiring a solid foundation of skills. They don't realize this now, but when they put all of this together it will be what keeps them safe out in traffic. 

This is where they experiment a little with the powerband and apply push steering techniques. My part of this was observing, sucking up teaching technique, as well as scuttling into right tipped cones (think Wimbledon ball boy) I felt like a squirrel dodging cars at one point and it was a little precarious because of the tendency of target fixation and in a yellow traffic vest you are a pretty big target to fixate on.  "Squirrel!" There where a few close moment of trying to get out of the way.

The best part of the entire day was seeing the huge grins when an instructor told them, "Well done!" or when they were coming up to speed and shifting into second and then when the exercise was stopped some cried out, "No, we want to do more!"   That is the reward, when you hear that, and see the skills and confidence growing. Wow what a weekend!

Here the students doing push steering drills, don't the bikes sound like angry bees?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Motorcycling full circle - the journey begins anew as a motorcycle instructor in training

(It looks cute and harmless doesn't it? Nuh-uh! It's really a mean little bike troll in disguise, it's meaner than a ginormous blinged out, chrome encrusted Harley)

The little red bike is the school training bike, it's a 150cc Honda Titan. At the moment it is my wee nemesis. I remember 3 years ago when I rode this very bike how big I thought it was! Now it feels like a light weight putter, but I have to get used to riding this teeny beast.  It has completely different handling than my 483 pound Shadow and at the moment it is much more challenging than riding my barcolounger-like bike. These little bikes have been dropped, dented and battered, poor things.

Tuesday night I started the process to become a  rookie motorcycle instructor in training.  I felt like a noob rider all over again, full of nerves, anticipation, and anxiety, because I was riding the motorcycle skills assessment test on Tuesday night in front of the head of the riding school and 3 other senior instructors.
The scrutiny was palpable and hovered in the air like a heavy fog.  Its amazing the vibe you get from someone standing there with a clipboard grading what you are doing and the anxiety it creates. It was an 'Oh my gosh' moment and very humbling indeed. I will have to keep this in mind when I am teaching future students.

This is what perfection looks like, these riders do intricate skill drills flawlessly, check the link one of Victoria's finest riding a skills course.  I would be ecstatic to ride my MSA that well, and if there is one thing I've learned, it's that practice and lots of it make you proficient and anything IS possible! 

Instructors are expected to flawlessly ride the MST/MSA to demonstrate it to their students. Perfection is a hard pursuit for most humans, and I am hoping that I will measure up. I have steeled my resolve and am going to work hard to be successful.  

Wednesday found me sampling a slice of moto humble pie after my Tuesday night session, I was out in the lot for about an hour running drills. I lucked out and found 3 city traffic cones in the lot which I borrowed to set up a mini slalom and delineate the uturn box.

Orange traffic cones seem to have this nasty gravity vortex of their own, where they suck you into them, kind of like a land based Bermuda Triangle. Once they suck you into their gravity field you are done. I wonder if you painted them a mellower colour if some of the anxiety inducing properties would go away?  Hmmm I think I need to design stress-free cone colours. In any event by the end of the hour I was throwing Scarlet around in the lot and pulling uturns the width of 2 parking spaces, so there is hope! I also practiced straight line slow riding to tune up friction zone use and a few other exercises.  I have to say if you haven't done this in awhile it is worthy of a ride to a lot and giving it a whirl, I noticed a smoothness in my riding the next day.  If you don't have traffic cones take some old tennis balls and cut them in half, but know they have the same effect as real cones and can induce that same cone anxiety. They make pretty good portable course markers, small enough to throw in a saddle bag.
(If you believe what's on the mug, I have a pink flying pig to sell you)

Well wish me luck, the next 3 weekends will find me on the range observing the novice course and riding a traffic course again as a student. After that the book work begins and it's about 130 hours all totalled before I write the final licensing exam. Stay tuned I will let you know my progress. 

Sunsets galore!

I was recently on vacation in beautiful Tofino which is the end of the official terminus of the Trans-Canada Highway. So in essence it's the proverbial 'end of the road'.  Every year we venture forth to refresh, relax, and recharge or work weary souls.  I usually amble down to MacKenzie Beach at sunset and take in the spectacular show to end the day, here are some of my favourite pics from our recent trip.

The sky is spectacular!

Not bad for an iPhone!

Moonrise - it's teeny, but it's there.

 I love Tofino! If you haven't been there you should venture to Vancouver Island and drive the lovely winding road in, the scenery is breathtaking!