Friday, April 08, 2011

High Desert Hijinks

This is one of those posts where you'll get a break. There are a lot of photos and less words.

I'm working on the Step 2 competency post. In the meantime, I wanted to share some snapshots from a recent trip to Bend. There are motorcycles, sunshine, and snow.

The reason for the trip was to do some "train the trainer" work. Call it a workshop, if you will. During the course of teaching a class several instructors take turns stepping in. The idea is to have discussions among ourselves with the aim of lifting their teaching skills to the next level. There is one instructor who remains with the students for the entire class. This gives them some continuity.

Friday afternoon saw Katie and I headed over the Cascade mountain range. I briefly considered riding but the Oregon State Police said chains were required to get over the pass. This late in the year. So we drove. I know, what an excuse, but there you have it. Sure enough, there were a couple of patrol guys ensuring compliance. I hate chaining up but the packed snow and ice, along with a trooper's gaze forced me into it. Chaining up is a lot like throwing up when we're sick. We fight it and fight it. When we finally do give in, though, it feels so much better.

Our hotel was along the Deschutes River. Across the highway from where Bobskoot, Sonja, and Mr. and Mrs. Troubadour stayed during our first annual motobloggers convention. The temperatures during our event last summer were near a hundred degrees ( f ). This time it was barely above freezing. However, the sun was out and I spent some time playing with the camera.

Saturday morning found us in a parking lot. It's amazing, as an instructor, how a parking lot can so easily become your world for the weekend. I suppose the students feel the same way, too. A bare piece of pavement becomes a two-wheeled kingdom of sorts by adding some banners and bikes. Below are some of our crew. Actually, the man on the right was observing as part of his process of becoming an instructor himself. The poor guy probably got more information than he ever wanted to know!

The photo below is of Bill. He was the instructor that started with the students and was involved with every exercise.

Students practice their smooth stopping techniques under the watchful and encouraging eyes of Sean.

Getting directions for the next exercise. This is called "staging". It's really just a fancy word for two lines off the side of the range and out of the way.

Practicing the motor skills and actions involved in upshifting. Hey, life's no fun in first gear!

Waiting in line to practice the upshift, then downshift while stopping at the other end of the range.

Working on an introduction to cornering skills. You can see the air is slightly gray. What looks like fog is actually a fine sleet. At one point it blew in pretty heavily. The wind blew the sleet in from the west. Fortunately, we were looking east at the range so our backs were to it. I wish I had gotten the camera out to take a picture of us then. We all looked like snow monsters from the back. Totally covered in ice.

At the end of a cold day it was great to sit by the gas fireplace in the hotel lobby. A warm fire went well with some whiskey from the lounge!

This was the sight out of our patio door early Sunday morning. The hope was that the sun would melt the snow quickly. There were two problems with that. Firstly, the temperature stubbornly stayed below freezing. Secondly, clouds crashed the party. They arrived bearing the gift of more snow.

Weirdly enough, not all of the parking lot was the same temperature. Snow stuck to some spots and not others. Of course, we needed the whole lot to be free of snow. So we decided to delay a half hour and see what would happen.

After around 45 minutes the temperature came up a few degrees. Just enough to tip the scales in our favor. With the help of a couple of push brooms ( to create enough friction to melt the snow ) we got the lot cleared and the bikes underway.

I guess it IS possible to look intimidating on a GZ250!

We call the last exercise "Traffic interaction". Here the students deal with two way traffic, intersections, turning from a stop, and other situations they will encounter in the real world. For most of them, that can be as soon as the next day. It can look like chaos but the two instructors keep calm and watchful eyes on the scene. Accidents are extremely rare.

In the photo below you can see Sean calmly walking back towards staging at the end of the exercise. See, he's not shaking or quivering in the least!

It was finally time to wrap up the riding portion of the class. With the help of a nearby Subway sandwich shop we got to the classroom building and wrapped things up there. Blessed warmth!

Despite the cold and another snowy trip over the pass I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend. Another group of riders was started on their two wheeled journey of discovery. I got to see both the joy that the students had as well as the dedication on the part of the instructors I worked with. I still feel lucky to be a part of it all.

Miles and smiles,



Shannon Baker said...

What is this motobloggers convention of which you speak and how can i get an invite to the next one?

Assuming it isn't in the snow...

Hang in there


Jack Riepe said...

Dear Shannon:

Do own a pair of pink crocs? (remember, you live in Texas.)

That starts the invitation process.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep †oad
Twisted Roads

Steve Williams said...

Chains? The last time I put chains on a vehicle was in 1970. How bad are the drivers on the West Coast??

Reading the whole post, the one thing that stuck in my mind, the thing I found most engaging, the only thing I really cared was the description of the fireplace in the hotel. I'm cold right now as I right and I would give almost anything to be sitting by a fire....

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks
Follow me on TWITTER

Shannon Baker said...


"No...but we are *willing to learn*."

Are the Crocs a requirement of a disqualification?


Mike said...

Man, Team Oregon is like the NFL. You guys are out there even if it's snowing! Maybe everyone should have met at the fireplace when the snow started. But you did get some cool shots of the bikes in the snow.

I like your analogy of putting chains on.

SonjaM said...

Bad words: snow, icy roads, cold temperatures, chains... I had to stare at the fireplace for a while to warm up again.
I love the pic of the grizzly looking guy on the GZ250.

bluekat said...

I briefly considered (all of about 2 seconds) that it would be good take a brt class in the rain. Opportunity to get some coaching in rain soaked corners and all that. Nah, I waited for fair weather and dry parking lots.

Bravo to the students and instructors! That looks very cold! Especially on Sunday. I'm surprised you were able to get it in shape with all that white stuff falling.

Pretty scene of the Deschutes. I love central Oregon scenery. I haven't gotten over that way (or eastern) nearly enough. I will wait for warmth and sunshine, and no chains required.

irondad said...


It was a hundred degrees during our first meeting.

Here is but one of several accounts.

Take care,


irondad said...


Been there, done that. Been so cold that all I could think of was being warm.

By the way, how did it get so cold in the coffee shop? Did your hot chocolate and bagel get cold, too?

Take care, my friend!


irondad said...


We pose in the snow, but unlike the NFL, don't play in the snow. At least not where our students can see us.

Seriously, safety is an understandably huge consideration for our students.

I'm glad you liked the chain analogy. Was worried it might gross someone out!

Take care,


irondad said...


I liked his photo, too. Interestingly, the guy was actually more of a teddy bear than a grizzly bear.

Snow and ice are on my list of bad words, too!

Take care,


irondad said...


You were probably wise to wait. What you gain by learning to ride in the wet you can lose in the inability to concentrate on learning.

If it wasn't for the snow and short riding season I'd move over there. Maybe Prineville or Lapine.

Katie uses the short riding season against me whenever I do threaten to move. I hate the constant rain here. Katie wants to stay close to her family.

Now that Ryan is here somehow my threats to move have diminished. Weird.

Take care,


Shannon Baker said...


Thanks for the link. It looks like all had a "croc'in" good time.

Keep me in mind if there is a repeat on the horizon.