Now that the class is done I thought I'd bring you an update.
Saturday was a typical March day. Cold with clouds, but dry. At least until the afternoon group took to the range. That was their problem. We were warm and cozy in the classroom. Actually, it wasn't rain. It was ice pellets. Riding home around 3:30 PM, most of them had melted again. Sunday was a slightly different story.
Moisture from the South combined with cold air from Canada ( thanks a lot, Bryce! ) brought more snow. Daylight savings time took effect Saturday night. Douglas and I were setting up for the day in the dark and the snow. It's not a great picture but you can see the snowflakes in the lamp's light. We got snow and ice for most of the morning. Fortunately, the temperature was above freezing and we didn't have a problem with it sticking on the parking lot.
One of our classes in Portland to the North of us wasn't so lucky, however. The parking lot is at an elevation of around seven hundred feet. Here's a picture one of the instructors took. During the evaluation there was a big flurry of snow which ended up as slush on the pavement. She said all they needed was flavored syrup to make snow cones!
The bikes on the left are in line to do the sharp turn. The ones on the right are lined up for the quick stop. It's probably a good thing the instructors called a stop to things. The quick stop might have turned into the long slide!
Kevin did pretty well in his riding. As some of you mentioned in your comments, Kevin's experience on a bicycle showed through. He was comfortable and competent during the riding. Whatever sense of self preservation he's gained from bicycling is still an unknown at this point. I have to think he'll be well aware of his vulnerability and act prudently in harmony with that.
During the evaluations Kevin had a bit of anxiety. He'll have to tell you himself if you ever meet him whether he passed or not. A lot of students do well during the practice sessions only to fall apart during the evaluation. There's something about the word "test" that greatly multiplies the nervousness of students. Yes, there's pressure during the riding evaluation. It's also a good time for the students to gain an awareness of how they react in pressure situations.
For example, we practice the sharp turn over and over. We coach the students to use their head and eyes to guide the bike. We tell them to look at the desired outcome and not down at the hazard. Most students do it really well during practice. What happens during the eval? Now they're worried about crossing the painted lines. So where do they look? Right down at the bloody lines! No surprise when they launch outside the boundaries.
It's just a parking lot for today. Tomorrow could be the real thing. The skills test shows the students how easily they revert to habit. It also reinforces the need to make good habits so ingrained that the rider will do the right thing at the right time no matter how great the stress.
I had a chance to engage Kevin in conversation. I was curious how he was feeling about riding. His stated purpose was to use the scooter just for transportation. I wanted to know if his time spent riding had kindled a spark of fun. Was he going to use the scooter to take little trips to explore the world around him? Here's what he told me.
"It might go to McDonald's or something. If I have to go farther than that I'll get a ride with someone."
Interesting comment. Kevin's an interesting person. He has personality. He is a night manager at a Thriftway grocery store. Obviously, he's got friends and / or family who will do him favors. The scooter was delivered in a big white diesel pickup with dual rear tires. The truck was driven by a friend of Kevin's who was willing to help him out. So it's not like Kevin is some kind of strange loner. Oh wait, that would describe me, wouldn't it?
I think Kevin's just a practical person. According to the study of Neurolinguistic Programming, people relate to the world in one of two ways. They either function according to possibilities or by necessity. He's probably one of the latter. Of course, this is just the beginning. There's plenty of time for Kevin to discover the fun factor!
If not, no harm, no foul as far as I'm concerned. Motorcycle manufacturers are looking for new markets. There's only so many enthusiasts. If those corporations are anything like the one I work for, the emphasis is on growth. A lot of the motorcycle and scooter makers are starting to think about how they can lure car drivers towards two wheels. Selling the practical and economic aspects are at the top of the list.
Kevin seems to be one of those who could have been a car driver except for the fact that he claimed being behind the wheel of a car freaked him out. He needs motorized transportation and the scooter fills the bill. Weather isn't an issue as he's spent a lot of time on a bicycle in the rain and cold. Kevin's taken training and has the appropriate gear. Whatever his reasons for riding, he's doing it right.
May he find success and whatever else he's looking for in the future.
Stay tuned. There were several interesting stories from the weekend. I'll be sharing those in the next few posts.
Miles and smiles,