Friday, March 10, 2006


Snow about to be trampled by a VFR

I'm watching the clock hands slowly crawl forward. Quivering in readiness to get out of the office and go teach. Finally!! Gear's on me, I'm on the bike, and we're on the road. The VFR's running low on fuel. Dang. I'm so spoiled by that 7.4 gallon tank on the ST. The smaller tank on the VFR demands more frequent drinks. There's a Shell station kind of off by itself that's become a regular watering hole for the bikes. While I'm filling the bike a semi-truck pulls up. Something climbs down out of the truck. The driver is looking for the truck stop which is on down the road. I say "driver" because I'm not sure if this is a male or female. It looks like a beer bellied red neck going through a sex change operation.

Seriously, I'm laughing so hard I damn near spill gas on the bike. Picture it. About 5'8" tall. Big square head and jaw. Pockmarked face and a two day beard growth. Big arms and large thighs. A beer belly hanging down waaaaay past the belt buckle. I'm only reporting the facts when I say it had a black Harley Davidson t-shirt on. Now put a pageboy haircut, lipstick and eye makeup, and boobs on it. I don't know whether to laugh or be sad. This is either someone with entirely too much time spent alone or someone looking for the escape of solitude in a truck.

Still chuckling and shaking my head I zoom on up to meet my class.

The temperature's been climbing into the 40's(F) in the afternoons so the snow is gone. Just the rain remains but it does nothing to dampen my enthusiasm. My group of 12 students is pretty much a typical class. There's a couple of noteworthy situations going on. There's a young gal who has never ridden before. In the introductions she says she's tired of waiting for "Mr. Right" to come along. It seems one of her requirements for this guy is to ride up on a bike. She's given up on the guy part but wants to learn to ride on her own.

There's also two middle-aged couples. There's a family thing going on. It's a brother and sister with their spouses thing. The one guy is a long time rider. The other guy has gotten the bug to ride and has a learner's permit. Both gals have never ridden to speak of. Their attitudes are fun to see. There's an increasing number of women coming through the classes. Some classes number up to a third female. Maybe this will help nudge manufacturers to take women into account more.

For me it's a special thing to see the enthusiasm that these mostly new riders bring to class. I love being a part of their beginning experiences. It's a great feeling knowing they're leaving my class with a solid foundation to build on. Witnessing the lights come on for them and seeing their confidence come up is like watching children grow in fast forward. The road runs both ways. I give them something of value and they stoke the fires of my enthusiasm for riding. Not to mention the fact that riders who have had training show up less often in fatality statistics. At least so far.

During class the rain starts coming down hard enough to make noise on the roof. In a short while the rain turns fluffy white. I'm not too worried about the 30 mile ride home. I am sort of bothered that I'm sending a conflicting message to my students.

The usual question comes up in class. "What do you ride?" I tell them about the bikes I ride and point to the one they probably saw in the parking lot. I park close to the classroom. Most of the time, and for sure this time of year, it's the only bike in the lot. So they know I'm on a bike and it's snowing. It's a fine line. On the one hand I stress to them that they need to know the limits of themselves, the bike, and the environment. That to truly manage risk they need to know these limits and stay within them. I really want to show that bikes are a totally viable alternative to four wheels. Showing up on a bike is how I "walk the talk". I only hope the students realize the situation. Hopefully the normal situation where the student expects the teacher to have greater skills will prevail.

Going home was no problem. There's a metal ramp in front of the classroom. I almost fall on my buttisimo walking out the door. Other than that, the only problem is visibility. It's hard to see what the road is like in the dark with wet snow blowing at your faceshield.

There's a white world outside this morning. All the schools down here are closed because of the snow. I tried to get a couple shots of the snow to put here. I guess I should have put the bike in the picture but I wanted to show a larger scene. It's too late, now. The snow all melted by lunchtime which is when I'm writing this. The picture's a little dark. I don't have Steve's wonderful way with a camera. I processed it through my Kodak software for size. Once I saw it I saw I should have lightened it up. Now I don't know how to delete it and do it again without losing the rest of the post. Guess you'll have to get over it. I'll learn as I go. This is about the writing, not an art museum! :)

The weekend will be interesting. What are we doing teaching a motorcycle class this time of year? And what about the students? They're as crazy as I am!!! At least in their case they mostly don't know better. What's my excuse?

5 comments:

Mad said...

I was just wondering Dan if you guys have wheelie schools over there?

irondad said...

mad,
sometimes I'm not sure if you are serious. In this case I will assume you are. I have heard of one that uses bikes with wheelie bars. You get used to controlling the loft then they take the bars off. If you want, I'll find more information.
My students ask once in a while if we are going to learn wheelies. My bigger concern is to teach them enough control they don't do them accidently!!

Steve Williams said...

I've seen guys doing wheelies on scooters and I can't figure out how they do it. There is no power in mind for that but I've seen it so there must be some technique just to get the wheel in the air.

I test rode a Vespa GTS250 and it has power and easily brings the front wheel off the ground.

I have no plans to do wheelies.

Mad said...

Damn spammers. Come the revolution they're first in line for the noose...

irondad said...

Hear, hear!

If you're a spammer you are NOT welcome here. This is not a commercial venture.

Dan