Sunday, March 22, 2015

It's a journey! What a ride!


This weekend was the end and beginning for me, it's almost the end of my training cycle as a motorcycle instructor trainee culminating in the beginning of my instructing career.  It's been a very a comprehensive process packed full of learning motorcycle theory in written form and practical tarmac sessions.  I've gone through over 100 hours of training and now it's all getting strung together and I am applying the knowledge I've learned.  I have discovered the wonder, joy, exhilaration, and challenge of teaching and mentoring. From time to time there is little nervous angst thrown in just to keep it spicey.  I am learning the challenging act of walking backwards and talking students through an exercise before they run the manoeuvre. I still need to work on this a little, darn cones pose issues even when one is not riding, but in all fairness I wasn't looking where I wanted to go, and one of my students pointed out that I wasn't practicing what I was preaching, I quipped back I was just demonstrating the cause and effect of the action. (Touché says the student) It was the proverbial  Grasshopper "Snatch the pebble from my hand" moment. 

The hardest thing I have found is taking reflexive day to day actions breaking them down and teaching it to students. It's harder than you think, because there are so many movements and actions we do as experienced motorcyclists and translating that to students takes deliberate thought and process to relay it to them in a way that they take the lesson and apply the skill.  It is pretty heady stuff and at times when a student finds something difficult it's finding the approach to get the message through, sometimes it as simple as the student overthinking, or lack of belief in themselves, and at times the shear volume of information they are taking in can be overwhelming. In terms of teaching, I am learning that keeping it simple and giving them the information they only need to know is better rather than drowning them in minutiae and motorcycle white noise so to speak.  


My school has a team centred partner approach which is awesome! You work with another instructor and team teach, I am being mentored by my instructor and other instructors and the bonus is I am mentoring new riders.  I was a little anxious at first because it's something new and I've only taught the course in chunks to my fellow instructor trainees and passively observed a full complete course.  I've learned very valuable techniques and had great feedback from my practicum supervisor.  The novice students are growing in confidence and skill, and through this my confidence and skill set is also growing. I will always be learning and striving to do it better and more efficiently, I think it will always be an evolving process of growth and change.  It was pretty cool discussing teaching methods and results with my instructor mentor and using that insight to fine tune and find my teaching style and groove. The practicum is very intense because I'm delivering the bulk of the lessons, but that will change and it will be a little less intense when I'm teaching subsequent courses. So far I am loving this, it's pretty amazing and I actually can't even put it into words, the best feeling to compare it to is that moment when you find the perfect twisty road on a sunny day, it's BLISSFFUL.  Sorry for the lack of pics, but honestly I was too busy! 

Wish me luck as I finish my practicum next weekend.  






Sunday, March 8, 2015

Wow!



This weekend has been AMAZING!  We are in full-on blooming spring mode with stellar temperatures being in the low teens (Celsius).  For the last 3 weekends I have observed a group of students learn to ride through my riding school's novice course and traffic course.  'Incredible' is really the only way I can describe the process.  I am awe struck by the tenacity of these fledgling riders and their age diversity from very young to very life experienced.  They remind me of little chicks learning to fly testing their wobbly wings.  


The traffic fleet is diverse in style to cc's and generally there is a bike for everyone.  Last year the school added a Honda CB500f and I was lucky to get to take it for a spin. I was pleasantly surprised that I liked the CB500 so much, it is the furthest style away from my cruiser. Our school encourages students at the end of their traffic course to experiment and try all the bikes, as most haven't bought a bike this early in the game and it gives you a good opportunity to try different riding styles, cruiser, dual sport, and sport bike.  

My friend Deb is an instructor and this weekend we were observing a traffic course.  Yesterday when I left it was just the beginning of sunrise, today because of daylight saving time it was still dark & cold, what a difference an hour makes! (Sorry for the grainy pic)

My instructor mentor suggested I ride one of the schools newest additions to the traffic fleet, the Harley Davidson Street 500.  So not only do students get learning opportunities, fledgling instructors do too.  Harley has two new bikes a 500 & 750 model, which are water cooled, low slung cruisers.  I think the 500 is going to be a very good entry level cruiser for everyone. They don't look like the usual HDs and surprisingly don't sound like the traditional throaty potato potato low rumble.  They sound like some of the Japanese cruisers, very quiet and soft, there is no signature rumble.  That was a little disappointing, but I quickly got over that.  I could not believe how light weight it was, in fact, it was lithe.  The 500 weighs in at 489 pounds. Getting on and off was easy peasy I am only 5'3" and my feet were securely planted when sitting on it, no acrobatics happening here like I usually have to do when getting on and off some bikes. 


I was also surprised at how agile the bike was and how manoeuvrable.  The bike is fuel injected and started up with ease.  Then the fun began!  I rode the bike for 8 hours and I have to say I had so much fun.  It goes like the wind and the acceleration is fast & easy.  The steering is agile and when I was carving corners and twisties it was so much different than Scarlett, it was absolutely effortless.  Going down the highway was easy!  The 500 was so easy to ride, but if I was getting one I'd probably get the 750 for the extra cc's. The seat was comfortable and I wouldn't change it to a custom seat.  I really like the bubble housing on the headlight and the fender, it reminded me of cafe racers.  I like the understated elegance and lack of chrome, don't get me wrong I like bling, in fact I'm the princess of bling, but sometimes less is more.  

*nudge* David Masse,  I think you should have a look at this if you are considering a 'shifter', I think this would rock as a daily commuter and as a distance bike and it was easy and comfortable to ride.

At the end of a very happy weekend of riding I also took the new Honda CB300 for a spin, I really liked this bike, albeit it is more of a sport bike styling.  So now I am even more confused about my future moto love.  I guess  motorcycles are a bit like a box of smarties, so many to choose from and 1 smartie is never really enough!  

I am happy, exhausted, and ready to do my practicum.  Today the group of 4 students I followed from novice class to traffic all passed and are doing their road tests in the next few days or weeks.  I know they are going to do great and it is very exciting being part of the process.   I think I am going to like this instructor gig!






Monday, February 23, 2015

FuzzyGalore's Voices of Moto Bloggers Challenge


You all know what I look like, followed some of my adventures through my blog life, but rarely do I post video of myself talking.  This is probably a good thing because I can be a wee bit chatty. It's pretty cool hearing what you all sound like because generally the world of Moto blogging is pretty quiet and generally written.  

Rachel aka FuzzyGalore Moto blogger extraordinaire issued the Voices of Moto Blogger community challenge.  Hello My Name is Fuzzy - The Voices of Moto Bloggers challenge



Hello can you hear me eh??  This is me in all my Princess Scooterpie diva-ness. Do I sound Canadian? Eh?

Video Review of Motorcycle House.com Viking Select Tourmaster largemagnetic tank bag


Motorcycle House Viking Select TourMaster magnetic tank bag.  About a week ago I did a review of this wonderful tank bag.  Click here to see original detailed written review *Link





For product information click here -->Motorcycle House Viking Select magnetic Tank Bag product link

A few more thoughts on Motorcycle House's Viking Select TourMaster large magnetic tank bag. I've been using the bag for about two weeks now and I have to say my first impressions were borne out and I love this bag.  It works really well and I am very impressed with its construction, design, and ease of use.  Upon further use I have not found anything disagreeable or anything that would make me change my original review.  I'm looking forward to logging many miles with the bag on my bike.

Check out  MotorcycleHouse.com's house brand of Viking tank bags click *Link

First motorcycle class of 2015

Honda 150 Titans


I am in my final stretch of completing my instructors course.  This weekend was the start of motorcycle instruction season for my riding school and it was a beauty!  I decided to observe a full novice class before doing my teaching practicum next month. I wanted to solidify exercises and see experienced instructors doing what they do best, teaching eager soon to be motorcyclists.  I also was given the opportunity to help out which was very satisfying.  I loved seeing the huge smiles on the students faces as they mastered a new skill and the moto light clicked on, it was pure magic. In two 4 hour sessions 10 people went from another student pushing them on a non-powered motorcycle yesterday, to riding in 2nd and 3rd gear, and learning the finer points of counter steering today.  It was pretty awesome and I felt charged with electricity by the end of today.  It also makes me see and feel the magic of riding and makes me feel more passionate about sharing my love of motorcycling.  I actually can not properly describe how I am feeling after this weekend because I really can't find the words to do it justice.  Suffice it to say my heart took wing as I watched 10 people discover the joy I already know.  When I asked a student what they felt they said "I want more!" You should have seen the huge grin, I know that grin and feeling. 
The young man on the bike with the brown pants gave me the thumbs up.  The students had just completed some pretty challenging exercises. Most haven't ridden before and they were blown away by the fact that they were actually riding, it was awe inspiring.  Next weekend they will have completed their Novice course and ready to roll into the traffic course with a good grounding in theory and practical application of skills.  I feel so lucky to play a small part in this process.  

Monday, February 16, 2015

Motorcycle House's Viking Select Magnetic Tank Bag Review

Motorcycle House's Viking Select Magnetic Tank Bag  first glimpse -  I squeed with delight upon opening the box. Most motorcyclists know this sound when you get a new bike farkle.

A few months back I was approached by Motorcycle House and asked if I would like to do a review of a product.  I thought about it for awhile and decided to give it a go.  I was very impressed with email exchanges I had with Motorcycle House rep Kiara, she answered all of my questions and concerns I had about doing a blog review post.  She alleviated my concerns about giving my opinion, be it good or bad, and that I had editorial control and  I would  provide an unbiased opinion based strictly on my findings with the bag.

Motorcycle House (*Link), has a wide variety of gear, apparel, for both men and women and accessories for every motorcycle enthusiast.

They sent me a product of my choosing which was the Viking Select Magnetic Tank Bag (Link to product details).  This review was not done for any monetary payment, I did receive the bag to keep in exchange for my review.  I actually like that they ask for motorcyclist's opinions, as we are the people who put gear and luggage through real world testing.

People who know me, know that I am pretty fussy and particular when it comes to motorcycle gear and bike farkles.  Lets get to the nitty gritty stuff that motorcyclists want to know.  
I was pretty happy when pulling the Tank Bag out of the box.  I gave it a quick once over and was thinking how much this was going to add to my hauling convenience on my daily commute and rides.  My love of a good tank bag comes from it being functional with lots of storage, organizing compartments, and easy access is a must.   
Product features and specs
*Capacity:  14 liters  Dimensions: 9.5"L X 13"W X 6"H  *I found this to be of ample size and it easily carried a good amount of items with room to spare.  
*Outer Shell is 600 denier Carbolex(R) material *manufacturers brand
*Phoslite(R) reflective material side panels ***LOVED THIS! It adds extra visibility at night, it lights up when headlight beams shine on it. I have experience with products with this reflective material and found this to be one of the best features of their products.  
*Removable clear window map pocket (replaceable if required)
*2 External zipper side pockets (The pockets easily accommodate a large eyeglass case)
*Available in magnetic and strap mount versions 
*Integrated carrying handle  
*Rain cover
*Headphone jack port
*Soft foam backing that will not scratch the tank and has good grip
*Safety strap secures the bag to the motorcycle steering yoke
Saturday and Sunday were beautiful here and it gave me the perfect opportunity to test out the bag.  I took it out to Scarlett and it easily & securely attached to the tank. **Be sure your tank is clean before attaching anything or scratching will result.  The magnets are substantial and hold on really well and at higher speed I had no concerns. There is nothing worse than having a piece of luggage detach from your bike when zipping down the highway at high speed.
Magnet in the flap.
Underside of bag is a soft and won't scratch the tank, it has good grip and stayed securely in place. 
Today I made a quick trip to the grocery store and I had quite a bit of stuff in the bag and still had room to spare.  Storage capacity galore!!!!
As you can see there is ample storage and 3 good organizational pockets in the top flap.  There is an attachment to hook your keys securely in place and pen pockets(the nerd in me loves this). 
The bag has two outer zippered storage pockets which are perfect for carrying eyeglass cases. I used one of them for this purpose, but left the other empty and found it perfect for those instances where you need to remove your glasses in a hurry and quickly stash them.
Zippered map pocket attaches with 2 snaps at the top and is secured with velcro at the bottom. (Here it's attached with only one snap just for picture purposes) 
Side view of the large zippered pocket and map pocket.  
Above the carrying handle is a zippered pouch where the rain cover is stored. ( Notice the heavy duty attachment snaps for the removable map pocket)
The rain cover is compact and fits easily in the storage compartment. 
The rain cover slipped easily over the tank bag and has a waterproof lining and is secured by an elastic drawstring cord & fastener, I liked the ease of use of this cover. A previous bag I had relied on a bulky elasticized plastic cover and it reminded me of a shower cap, it was always hard to get on the bag and was a pain to store due to it's bulk. There is nothing worse than being caught in the rain & no rain cover for your tank bag because it's sitting at home. This is not the case with this bag and the rain cover is efficient and easy to use.

Motorcycle House has their own tank bag line made by VIKING BAGS (*link)   including the bag style in this review, as well as other great tank bag styles to choose from & luggage for your two wheeled love.
Visibility factor is epic, this is the reflective panel on the side of the bag, my camera flash triggered it and it's bright! 
This picture was taken in a dark room and the picture is not enhanced in any way.  When not activated the side panel looks charcoal grey.
Things I liked and LOVED about the Motorcycle House Viking Select Magnetic Tank Bag:

I really liked the bag and am happy with the storage capacity it gives without having a big hulking profile on the bike.  It gave me ample room to carry multiple objects with room to spare. I really liked the little organizational pockets in the flap so the little things don't end up jumbled in with the contents of the bag.

I love the 2 outer zippered pockets and ended up throwing my sunglasses in one of them when the light conditions changed. I liked how quick and easy it was to unzip the pocket with gloved hands and slid the glasses in.

The finish quality around the edge is excellent and there are no exposed edges.  The velcro closures are secure and not skimpy, so you know it is securely closed.  I was very impressed with the little details such as the zippers and how easy they were to manipulate with gloves on.

The map pocket is large, so it will accommodate a good sized map.  I was a little concerned about the snaps on the map pocket, but once I pressed them in hard the map pocket wasn't going anywhere.

I absolutely love the reflective side panels, it adds to the visibility factor to the side profile of the bike. This feature gives it 5 stars alone in my book.

The carrying handle is sturdy and easy to carry, I hate nothing more than a cheesy skimpy handle that digs into your hand.  Your gloved hand fits nicely into the handle.  

The rain cover design and storage was well thought out and is compact, this is great because the cover is always with the bag in the storage pocket. *I have not tested the waterproof function as of yet, as I had gloriously sunny days, but I am sure that living on the We(s)t Coast I will have plenty of opportunities to try it out.

Things I didn't like: I'm not too fussy about the headphone entry port, I never use it, to me it's a potential entry point for dust, dirt, and water.  The map pocket becomes unusable once you put the rain cover on. These two things are very minor and the bag functioned well and met my expectations in every other aspect I was looking for in a tank bag.

All in all there wasn't much I didn't like about this bag, it worked well for my needs and fit my bike well.  I am actually looking forward to it being a staple in my motorcycle luggage and I know that I will have many uses for it in my daily travels as well as extended riding adventures. (My hubs has been eyeing it up too and thinks it might look nicer on his bike)

The cost of the bag is approximately $69.59 USD which is very reasonable (from Motorcycle House website) 

THE BIG QUESTION - WOULD I RECOMMEND THE BAG TO OTHER MOTORCYCLISTS?  ANSWER: A RESOUNDING YES!  
 
Check out VIKING BAGS to browse their other great bags and luggage, they offer everything from tank  to tail to saddlebags

While you are browsing through Motorcycle House's website  take look at the other great motorcycle products jackets (Link)  and vests, from leather to textile there's lots of variety for every motorcycle enthusiast!   Thank you Motorcycle House for sending me this great bag!

I will post a short video review in the next few days. 











Saturday, February 14, 2015

First ride of 2015, it was glorious!

Notice the new specs? Loving them!

We have been experiencing a Pineapple Express winter here on the We(s)t Coast, with mild temperatures in most cases well above normal, and accompanied by a fair amount of rain.  Today it was brilliantly sunny and about 12C which is absolutely tropical when you look at the rest of Canada.  We may not be wearing bathing suits & flip flops like other tropical destinations, but Victoria compared to the rest Canada is amazing! Right now most of Eastern Canada is buried in snow and ice with the average temperature being in the -20C and colder, with more snow being dumped on them as I write this.  A nephew in Ontario was not too happy and a friend in Oromocto NB was expecting 25 to 35cm of the white stuff today.   Brrrr thank goodness I live in the tropical part of the Great White frozen North.  

I insured Scarlett today while Motorcycle Man was fixing an errant sagging saddlebag.  It was a good day to try out my new AVG Aura Kevlar jeans, FirstGear Kilimanjaro jacket, and TourMaster tank bag. Yup it was a winter of farkle expansion. 


I decided I would layer up with winter woollies under the Kevlar jeans and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable they were and that I was actually quite warm.  This was my second outting for the Kilimanjaro and it performed flawlessly on both occasions. The first was during my instructor test in a torrential downpour and today in the nippy sunny weather.  Pretty happy on both counts.  Loving the new tank bag too, but I will post more about that in a few days, I need to ride a few more times with it.

It was a gorgeous day for a ride and everyone in Victoria had the same idea I did, the scenic beach drive.  There were lots of bikers out today and it felt good to give and receive the wave. I was out for about 90 minutes, but decided to zip home as the daylight waned as it was getting a little more chilly and I could feel it settling into my core.  Next priority is a heated jacket. 
A nice chap offered to take my pic as I was struggling with trying to do a selfie. I'm at Cattle a Point off of Beach Drive.
In the background is Mount Baker a dormant volcano in the US.  It looks spectacular on a clear sunny day and my little iPhone just doesn't do it justice, but I can tell you it was beautiful! 

So it was off to home and treating my hub and daughter to a surprise sushi dinner to celebrate 'Colour Day' as Martha calls Valentine's Day, when everyone gives flowers and chocolates as tokens of affection. Yup it's a greeting card day, but I really don't mind because it brings a little cheers to winter.  
The card I gave to the hubs. 
The French Chocolates he gave to me, which of course I shared with him & my wee girl. Even the pooch got heart shaped treats.  

PS we ordered the sushi to go and I picked it up and transported it in my now non-sagging saddlebag - boy do I ever love my moto man. 

PSS I didn't take any pics of the cherry trees that are blossoming, I didn't want to rub it in too hard, because karma can be vengeful if she so desires, but they are blooming.

Happy Valentine's Day or Colour Day if you prefer!