Monday, October 27, 2014

Blog slow down

Most of you know I am a motorcycle intructor in training.  For all of September I've been observing courses and riding as a observer, it's been a very busy 6 weeks. I've been given my class schedule and there are 11 sessions in a combination of theory and parkinglot. So I may not be blogging as much, as I am up to my eyeballs in manuals and assignments. Rest assured I am reading your blogs when I get a moment and will try to blog every once in awhile. I should be seeing daylight in late January. Hang in with me.
This was out on a traffic observation ride.

Day out in the range.  

Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Evening Autumn tootle

We have had the most amazing summer and it has stretched through to October.  Today we reached a spectacular 20C, normally we are in the low teens.  
Tonight I was on my way to a meeting, and the views were stunning at the meeting venue. So I took a few minutes to catch the sunset and capture the totems in the twilight.
There are spectacularly carved totem poles by Songhees First Nations carvers. This is their rendition of a loon. 
I love Vancouver Island we have a rich diverse history and cultural melting pot. 

The sunset was breathtaking.
This is one of the exquisitely carved chief's poles.  The Songhees culture is beautiful and their carving is beautiful.  I was told that each totem is blessed and captures the spirit of the people, a prayer is said at the beginning of the carving and at the conclusion.  Also First Nations peoples think of the cedar trees the poles are carved from are alive and filled with spirit.  

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Adventures of ScooterBob

ScooterBob ready for a road trip. (Photo credit David Masse The Scoot Commute blog)

The moto blogging community lost a very special person last month, BobSkoot.  It was quite a loss to the little tight-knit community of motobloggers.  We've followed each others blogs through our escapdes, adventures, trials, tribulations, glorious moments and everyday living. 

Last year Bob rode coast to coast on his Beemer (Nu2Me), and was planning further bike adventures in the future. This year he and Mrs. Skoot were on a 4 wheel adventure travelling in his corvette and doing the things Bob did best, taking pictures and enjoying life. We in blog land were wondering where the Skoot family was and how they were making out on their adventure. Through a few posts on Scoot Commute our blog friend David found out the sad news, Bob passed away in his sleep. David relayed this sad news to the rest of  us, and we felt lost and bereft.

As a group of motobloggers we want to honour our friend and have been thinking of ways to do this and David of Scoot Commute struck on this lovely idea.  Bob had given David a little wooden vespa scooter and now it is going to travel the world and motobloggers are going to take pictures of it and see how far a field the little scooter can go, so far it is on a whirlwind tour with destinations in the US, Canada and Europe (take that hitchbot).  I know BobSkoot would've loved the adventure of all of this!

To find out more about click this link and if you would like to participate follow the directions ---->   The Adventures of ScooterBob  Let see what type of an epic journey we can send ScooterBob on!

As you read this the little intrepid ScooterBob is in Key West Florida soaking up some sun!  Check it out!
Key West Diary - Conch scooter

Future Destinations 

The Black Forest, Germany 
London, England
Tampa, Florida, USA
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada - That's me!
Corvallis, Oregon, USA 
Centennial, Colorado, USA

Stay tuned!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Might as well be comfy

It's a gorgeous warm fall day on the island.  We are out running errands and I decided to kick back & chill out in the shade while hubs is in Home Depot.  Hardware stores aren't my cup of tea.  I can't believe how comfy Scarlet is for Moto lounging :)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Traffic skills class from the perspective of a motorcycle instructor trainee

The day dawned early and street lights were still on when I left for traffic class observation. 

The instructor trainee process continued last weekend with me observing and riding the two day traffic skills class.  This is where all the novice grads put their skills together and are unleashed on the world riding motorcycles.  For some it is daunting and terrifying to say the least, because they have never ridden a bike in traffic and have been cozily ensconced in their 4 wheel cages. For others they are chomping at the proverbial moto bit to get out riding.

The purpose of the traffic course is to take all of the students newly learned parking lot skills and knit them together and use them in real world traffic scenarios.  Bikes are provided for this session and they range in styles from cruisers, dual sports, to sport bikes, with cc's from 250cc to 1200cc. It  was interesting to see what the students were drawn to, but in the end it was their experienced traffic instructor that had the final say.  

There was a lot of nervous chatter and you could feel the frisson of excitement in the air.  Everyone did a precheck of their bikes and then it was off to the lot to demonstrate to their instructor what they have learned up to this point. It was pretty hectic in the parking lot with 15 students letting it rip. Students were observed and given advice and then it was off to hit the streets. The students ride in a group riding scenario with each student taking a turn as a group leader and solo rider followed by the group. I was the tail gunner for most of the two  days, and I led a few portions as well on a few challenging exercises such as merging onto the highway, the dreaded hill stop/start and then through some lovely twisties.  
The course is designed to build on the students skill level through repetition and confidence building. The ratio is 1 instructor to 4 riders.  It starts out with a quiet ride through some residential streets and then into a small town with light traffic flow, this allows students to not be overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of Victoria's busier streets. It's a gradual progression and done in chunks with instructors taking students on 20-30 minute rides and then stopping for a group chat about their progress to that point and checking to see how students are coping and reinforcing correct skills and technique. It was interesting watching the dynamics of the group and how the stronger students mentored their less confident classmates.  The students experienced a simulated road test with feedback being given on what was done well and where improvement was required. 
By the end of each day students have logged about 115 to 120 kilometres during the two day course.  I think the most stressful part for some of the students was merging onto a major highway and learning to maintain their speed and cope with the flow of the traffic around them.  The instructor was amazing and was very precise in expectations and gave students a realistic idea of what the next exercise was going to involve and skills required. 

The two day course culminated in students being thoroughly prepared for their upcoming road tests and well on their way to being licensed motorcyclists. I was impressed by the students eager willingness to learn and the way they soaked up the experience.  At the end of day 2 they were treated to a lovely ride down one of our twisty country roads, which gives them a sample of what to look forward to.  After that it was back to the school storage lot and for the final assessment of their skills and receive the coveted graduate cards.  
Students were also encouraged to try out  a different range of motorcycle styles to give them an idea of what type of bike they may want.  This student gave me the thumbs up while riding the Honda CB500F and has decided this is his future bike.  It was a great weekend, at the end there were smiles and lots of happy well trained new motorcyclists about to start their adventures.  It was magical!  I've been following the progress of road tests and so far so good!  

To the new riders I say, "Welcome to the club."

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.