Saturday, October 18, 2008

Closing out the work week.

The work week closed out pretty much like it began and continued. On a bike. Tuesday thru Friday weren't as much fun as Monday's ART class, but it's all good.

I had ordered a new windshield and trim piece for Sophie. They arrived on Wednesday. Since she's up for sale I decided to spruce her up a bit. The old windshield was getting yellowed. Just below the windshield is that black piece of trim with the slot and the Honda logo. A few years ago a bouncing rock took a chunk out of the top of it. There's been a piece missing in the top left corner of the slot for a long time. She's looking pretty sharp, now, isn't she? Dang, it's going to be even harder to part with her now!

Friday saw me faced with a need to go back up to Vancouver, Washington. We used to have an office up there but closed it out. We moved most of the stuff to a storage unit. I had to go fetch something. Since I was going up there, I'd scheduled a meeting at Adventist Hospital to consult with them on their new building that's going up. This would be a great chance to make sure the new windshield didn't blow off after my installation job. Hey, any excuse, right?

Now that I have Sophie at the storage unit, my question is "how's she going to carry all that stuff?".

My meeting with the hospital folks went well. It was a quick consultation to get some questions answered for a factory order. I had informed them ahead of time that I would be riding. Since it was a quick meeting, I didn't shed the riding gear. Except for the helmet and gloves, of course. It's kind of hard to have much of a discussion through a full face helmet. Nobody blinked an eye. Just another reason to prove that motorcycles can be used for business as well as pleasure.

What was really cool is what happened after the meeting. I'd only had one cup of coffee and no breakfast that morning. When I was done at the hospital I found a place to remedy that situation. Katie had slipped a bagel with cream cheese into my tank bag. Bless that angel! While replenishing my bodily fuel stores, I called my boss. He wasn't anwering the phone so I left him a message with a couple of updates. Then I added the next part.

"If you're going to call me back in the next hour and a half you'll have to leave a message. I'll be on the bike and won't hear the phone ring!"

Mileage for the day was at 201 by the time I reached home. Not a bad way to end the week.

By the way, when I got home and checked my e-mail there a message that had been forwarded to me from our training program's headquarters. A student, actually the guy from the Governor's Advisory Committee, had offered some feedback on his experience at ART on Monday.

As a little background, here's a brief rundown on the format. We work on advanced braking and swerving drills. The main focus, though, is on cornering properly. That includes making smooth transitions at the right time, lines, and strategies for setting up and linking turns. In a weird happenstance, it was also a name day. Out of 11 students we had four named Dave. Our three instructors were Dan, Dan, and Stan.

Part of the cornering portion includes inviting students to take a passenger ride on our bike. If a student looks to be not getting it at all, we sometimes nearly command them to ride with us. Respectfully, of course! Nothing like seeing and feeling it as the instructor rides the track. It's a very effective learning tool for students. Practically speaking, it can be hard for the instructors. We have to be able to keep up with solo riders despite being two up. It wouldn't look good to the rest of the class if the instructors were clogging the traffic flow, now, would it? Some of our students are less than thin, you might say. It's a careful balance of keeping up without scraping so hard as to be dangerous or frightening to the passenger. Some students come to class with a deep aversion to leaning. Somehow we make it all work.

Here's the input from this particular student:

"On Monday, Oct 13, I spent a very productive and enjoyable day in the Advanced Rider Training course near Canby. The instructors, Dan, Dan, and someone whose name I have unfortunately already spaced out, were all excellent. To all my rider acquaintences and friends, I have been urging them to take this course.

At the course's conclusion, we were invited to provide written feedback. I did so, but as I thought about the course over the next couple of days, I had further thoughts. I hope you will share these with the instructors for that day.

Having taken previous Team Oregon classes, I expected to be observed and to be given feedback on my riding skills. That happened in this class as well. But two teaching techniques that were new to this class were especially useful to me.

First, the opportunity to ride along with an instructor as he talked aloud about his line of path for approaching each curve, feeling him brake and downshift at just the right time, watching the course as he watched it, and listening to his strategy. Very cool. I took every opportunity to do this, and I would love the opportunity to do that sometime in the real world with an instructor as well. Suggestion for additional advanced training.

A second strategy that was both a little intimidating and yet highly useful was having the instructor shadow me thru the course to judge my perfomance near the conclusion of the day. Again, this one-on-one experience really gave me the assurance that if I was doing anything really inappropriate it would not be missed. My only suggestion would be to take the extra time to have each student shadowed for a couple of laps at the beginning of the ART class so that the "post-test" could be used to measure change. Doing that would also inform each student about any special issues he/she needs to focus upon for the remainder of the day.

All in all, this training was just excellent. In all my team Oregon trainings, I have had nothing but excellent educators who obviously enjoy their work.

Keep it up and keep the rubber down.

Thank you."

It's always nice to get positive feedback. This kind of thing keeps my fires for training burning hot. Whenever a person can find a passion for something that helps add value to the world, what better treasure can we hope for?

See you Monday. I'm working on a post about braking technique and how human physiology affects it. A student asked me a very interesting question last Monday. Stay tuned.

Miles and smiles,



fasthair said...

Mr. Irondad,

Something I wondered about these ART classes is, are you teaching these riders how to race? It just appears so with all of the proper line corner set up and the like. Also how is it to have a passenger on back while trying to do this? I know I would be a terrible passenger while trying to do this. I can’t remember the last time I was on the back seat but I know I sucked at then so I’m sure I still would. It’s that control thing you know.


irondad said...

It's not a racing class. We teach on a track because it's a closed environment with a lot of corners. The leading cause of motorcycle fatals in Oregon is riders getting corners wrong. What makes the situation worse is that Oregon has a lot of curvy roads. There's a lot of opportunity for riders to do themselves harm.

That's why the emphasis on proper cornering technique. We teach settinp up correctly and choosing a good line. These things help keep traction and ground clearance in reserve...just in case.

The most important we thing teach is looking as far as they can see and not over-riding their sight distance. That lack thereof is what's killing riders. They don't have all the information coming in. They commit to an apex before they can see the exit of a turn. Riders are crashing in the last third of the corner so we know they're being surprised.

ART skills translate to everyday riding.

Take care,


Conchscooter said...

I wish I could take a class with you. When the economy stops tanking. Ha ha.
Isn't it typical that you tart up a motorcycle right before selling it, thus giving yourself no time at all to enjoy the effect. And you the one who says with some pride that his 'sickle don't nevah git no polishing, no suh.

Heinz N Frenchie said...

We can tell from your writing that you really love your teaching. That's great! And it transcends to the students. Sophie looks beautiful so someone is going to be very happy with their purchase. Always enjoy your posts.