Friday, August 31, 2007

Misc. Musings.

The next week and a half is going to mean things could get spotty here at the blog. I'm spending the long holiday weekend with Katie. Knowing us, it's pretty certain at least some of the weekend will be spent on the bike looking for adventure. On Tuesday I'm headed over the mountains to look at a hardware problem. A new medium security detention facility is opening up in Madras on the 9th. There are some teething issues with some of the detention hardware. It's time for a visit from the factory "expert".

I always use that word sparingly. You know the definition of an expert?

An "ex" is a has-been, and a "spurt" is a drip under pressure. Still, I'm the voice of the manufacturer so off I'll go.

Wednesday thru Friday is committed to Sand Point, Idaho. We're doing the annual sales retreat thing on the shores of Lake Ponderay. Half days of work, half days of enjoying the area, and a great meal to top off the day. I'll probably just head on over after Madras. It's either that or travel an extra three hundred miles by coming home in the meantime. Depending upon what I need to carrry for Madras, I'll most likely be taking Sophie again.

We'll be finished somewhere around 1:30 PM on Friday. I'm planning on saddling up and heading the 7 or 8 hours home. I should be home around 9 PM and starting motorcycle training at 6:30 the next morning. Saturday and Sunday will be spent working an Instructor Preparation workshop for a batch of new ones hoping to join us in motorcycle training fun. Those will be a couple of long days. The good news is that the college is only a few miles from my house.

In the meantime, here's a few things to look at over the weekend.

If you would like to see how this year's Iron Butt Rally has gone, check out this link.

It's winding down but the winners haven't been determined, yet. My good friend and fellow instructor Jeff Earls is quietly doing his thing. Last time he finished second or third. This event is held every two years and lasts 11 days. If you click over to the home page you can read stories posted by folks who've gone for the Saddle Sore 1000 and Bun Burner 1500 certifications. I was a rabid long distance rider up until a few years ago and am a member of the club. Maybe I'll dust off my long distance riding tools and try the Iron Butt next time. Or, maybe not. It's very expensive to do these days. What an accomplishment to be a finisher, though!

I received a photo from a rider who was in the sticks of the barren Eastern part of Oregon. He'd come around a corner to the right and was doing about 25 or 30 mph. Take a look at the picture and I'll fill in the rest of the story.

Still leaned over as he exited the corner, the front tire encountered the end of the tar snake you see next to the yellow line. Now we have a combination of lean angle and the hot temperatures which made the tar very slippery. According to the rider, who was on a Honda ST1300, contacting the tar caused the front wheel to slide sideways onto the yellow paint. The paint has its own traction problems. Immediately the handlebars went into a full lock to the right mode. The skid marks you see on the yellow lines are from the front wheel sliding sideways. They look just like what you'd see from a car, don't they?

Somehow the rider managed to pull the thing back straight. Adding to the good Karma, there was no oncoming traffic. I asked the rider if there were any other "skid marks" besides the ones on the paint!

Here's a couple of feedback letters that help fuel my passion for teaching motorcycle riders. The bulk of my students are new riders. It's great to give them a solid start. There's also a great reward in being able to help long time riders hone and sharpen skills. Which means my own skills have to be up there. It's a positive kind of pressure which helps me immensely, too. Everyone likes to feel they make a difference. Most of the time it's just a lot of work and being content in my own heart that it matters. Not to mention sacrificing countless great riding weekends! Then we get these letters and it fuels us for a little longer.

This one's from a new student. One of my proteges, Dave, was working with me.

Dear Team Oregon~
I would like to thank my two wonderful instructors for allowing me a fun-filled learning experience along with the feeling of success.

I was not an experienced rider- as a matter of fact, my husband of 20-something years had confidence enough in me and bought me my own Harley Davidson motorcycle for Christmas!

My first reaction was for him to take it back- I wanted nothing to do with having my own and was too scared to attempt riding it-
I 've always been happy riding behind him on his bike, enjoying the scenery.

After hearing about CCC BRT from a friend that attended a few years ago, I decided to enroll.
Now I'm so glad I did!

I just graduated from BRT yesterday with the rest of my class, and feel so much more confident than how I felt about it before going in.
I hadn't ridden a dirtbike since I was a teenager- (many moons ago!)
Although I studied & studied...I missed more questions on the written test than I expected- (shame on me for not double-checking my answers!)
I will continue reading my training booklet to brush up on the test questions I had missed, and be skilled on the ones I know!

I feel that I can now be a safe & confident rider just by knowing the necessary skills of BRT.

I really enjoyed their class- they were the best!
Please commend them for an outstanding job!

Thanks again for making this great class available. I cannot wait to "enjoy" the ride!

jan Racette of Aurora, Oregon

There's so many cool things about this one. She had fun, built her confidence, and acquired new skills. The best thing of all is that you can tell she's taking responsibility for herself. That's really the biggest key to success on a bike, isn't it? Realizing and accepting that we are the ones responsible for taking care of ourselves out there.

This letter was published in the latest issue of American Motorcyclist Magazine. They have a section entitled "Crash Course". People share stories of their crashes so others can learn from them. I'd say it's much better to use good skills in the first place to avoid crashing. This guy, another former student, exemplifies the best approach.

"What if......

I was riding on a two-lane country road, dutifully scanning ahead as I had been taught in my rider training class, when I noticed a log truck with a couple of long two-by-four sized pieces working their way loose. (my note: SIPDE in action! )

Using the "What if" game I learned in class, I pondered my options if one of them worked loose. There was a 4-foot-deep ditch to my right, and a blind passing lane to my left. I decided a quick swerve around it, staying in my own lane as much as possible, was my only shot.

Sure enough, one of the pieces broke off. I did a hard press on the right bar, then a hard press left, and prayed. Just as I moved out of the way, the stick rocketed by about waist high! It would've taken me off the bike in an instant.

Now I know why the instructors made us do swerve drills over and over! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Bill Weir
Eugene, OR

There's a great value in rider training and I've been privileged to have touched thousands of riders over the years. There's been so many great things added to my life from riding. It feels good to be able to give something of value back.

I freely admit I'm stealing this from Gary this one time. I just can't help it because it fits so well. As you enjoy the holiday weekend and the times to come, please do me one huge favor.

Ride well,



Steve Williams said...

I used to think about a 1000 mile IronButt run on the LX150 but figured I would have to do it in some flat country to manage the speed. It can be done on the GTS but about 10 hours on the back of the scooter is all I could take. Someday maybe.

Those tar snakes and paint lines are slippery! Always something to look out for. The letter about dodging the lumber is a good reminder to hone skills. And stay a fair distance away from big vehicles hauling stuff like that.

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

Kano said...

...and gravel trucks and semi's. I do anything I can to avoid being behind one of those. I often see rock flying off the back end. Once when I was in a cage, a semi in front of me on the freeway ran over a piece of metal and those big tires kicked it up into the air and it flew back and hit my side mirror and windshield, scratching the paint and knocking the mirror loose. At 70 miles an hour, if I would have been struck by that on a bike, well, the results would have been catastrophic. Since then when I'm on my bike I avoid being behind semi's.

irondad said...

Steve and Kano,

You both picked up on the important thing. Backing off from these kinds of vehicles is very wise.

By the way, Jeff finished 4th in the Iron Butt Rally. He rode 11,069 miles.

Take care,


Steve Williams said...

I can't imagine riding that much in ten days. I can't even imagine it in a cage. It is amazing though.

I can imagine never wanting to ride again though. Just seems like torture to me not being able to stop and see all the stuff.....

I suppose it's no different for riders who can't imagine being stuck on a pokey old scooter that can't do much of anything.

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks