Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Two-wheeled schoolhouse Part 1

The 2009 training season is now tucked safely away in my pleasant memory file. In just a few short weeks the machinery will start to roll once more. Instructor updates will start. Actual classes with students will start towards the end of January, weather permitting. For now, though, there's a bit of a chance for review and reflection.

I'm kind of amazed that I'm still so deeply involved with our training program. This is no reflection on the program. It's literally the best in the nation, as confirmed by NTHSA ( a traffic safety branch of the federal government ). It's more so a personal reflection. My usual modus operandi is to totally immerse myself in something, master it as much as I'm able, then burn out and move on to something else. I still do that, I guess, to some extent.

Last night Katie and I were watching a program on the Star Wars legacy. There was a brief scene where Luke Skywalker and Hans Solo are preparing for battle. C3PO tells them that the odds for success are some astronomically small number. Hans Solo says, "Never tell me the odds!". Right away Katie pipes up and says "That's you. Never tell me the odds, I'm going to do it anyway."

Yet, here I am, still deeply involved in TEAM OREGON. The reasons I stay ( with their permission, of course ) are too numerous to relate here. Let's just say that the journey is still presenting me with discovery opportunities. I've learned so much that not only makes me a better trainer within the program, but has made me more effective in my personal life. This is so much different than many of my previous ventures in that regard.

Robert Fulgham wrote a book called "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten". Looking back at my time as an instructor, at my whole life as a motorcyclist, really, I could write my own book. I'd call it "All I Really Need to Know I Learned as a Motorcyclist".

Perhaps it may be more for me than anyone else. Nonetheless, I wanted to share a few things I've learned. I hope that someone reading may find them as useful as I have.

This isn't a "go back to my childhood and lay out my whole life" kind of thing. There is one thing from my childhood that has stuck with me and guided my life, however. Grandpa used to tell me to have fun and feel free to be a man but to keep my nose and my reputation clean. The other day I was in Eugene and parked in the lot at Oakway Center. Now that I'm bitten by the photography bug I have a habit of turning around and getting the 360 degree view. Doing so this day, I came across the chance to frame this photo using the Nike Store front window.

That's always a fair question, isn't it? What kind of legacy are we leaving behind? I'd like mine to be measured in humanity and not in physical treasure. I want to be remembered for what I did to help others and not just what I accomplished for myself. My family is a great start. I'm proud of my children.

Teaching motorcycle safety classes has certainly helped with doing something good for others. Success is literally measured in lives saved. I'm really proud of being a part of TEAM OREGON and the good that we do. On the other hand, I have to admit that I am not totally altruistic. I need more of a return on a day to day basis to keep motivated. Fortunately, there is plenty of that available, too!

Last week I was invited to tune into a telephone conference. We were given some exercises. One of them was to name three people we admired and to list the qualities we admired in them. One of the people I put on my list was Steve Garets, the Director of TEAM OREGON. What I admire is that he has this strong vision. Not only does he have the vision, but he has the steps in place to get there. I find that unusual. Some have a vision and some have a plan but not many have both so firmly in place. There's an awesome core support staff around him, but it's clearly Steve's vision.

This would be a good time to introduce you to Steve.

I took this photo after a long, hot, day of police training. We're at the Mac Track in McMinnville. I told Steve that there weren't many photos of him around. He replied that he preferred to be a figment of our imaginations. Jokes aside, he's had a very real impact on both the motorcycling community and the instructors who train them.

Mostly I refer to Steve in the blog as The Director. Steve's a down to earth person. Well, not in the Redneck down to earth way. It's clear that Steve genuinely cares for our instructors, for example. A few years ago I was working through a personally difficult situation. Steve invited me to go get a bite and spend some time offline. I left feeling much better able to soldier on. That's typical Steve.

The reason I call him The Director here is that it just seems more fitting. Whenever I'm with Steve I feel like I'm in the presence of a slightly superior intellect. I consider myself to be of above average intelligence and of better than average skill in a lot of areas. Even so, it's an interesting experience to be with a person that seems to be clearly tuned in to a higher calling. I think that's what it boils down to for me.

Confidence comes with clarity.

Our conversations center mostly around riding and training. In the world of motorcycling and training, Steve is more clearly tuned in than me. His confidence radiates through accordingly. It works for me. I've always considered myself a Field Commander rather than Headquarters Brass. I'm totally happy with Steve setting out the plan while I go out in the field and make it happen the way he wants. When there's questions, I use my intelligence guided by experience. Once in a while that actually works!

One of the chapter titles in The Director's game plan is called "What do they need right now?"

A simple question with so many implications. Stay tuned. I want to explore that in the next post and why it's proven so beneficial to me.

Miles and smiles,



Anonymous said...

Dear IronDad (Dan):

Very cool post today. Cool and deep.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

cpa3485 said...

Your Grandpa was very wise. You are quite capable of having fun. I recall last year's Christmas tree as evidence of part of your legacy, at least with me. But you can have a very serious side as well particularly when someone reads the depth of knowledge you display in this blog.
My question is this. Didn't anybody ever tell you to keep your feet off the handlebars?
Great picture by the way.

Anonymous said...

Motorcycles as a lounger aren't comfortable, right?
However, I now know why short ass people fit motorcycles the way they do. I could never qualify!

My feet and head would hang way beyond both ends off your motorcycle.

bobskoot said...


I noticed the rotating header page. Very nice, clean bike too

I'm still smirking to myself . . . wondering where to pick up a box of "rice-a-roni" . I've never seen them up here.

bobskoot: wet coast scootin