Friday, November 25, 2011

Perfect day for a winter ride!

Last night Vancouver Island took a beating from a storm.  We had high winds, rain and then hail.  It was hailing so hard it sounded like someone was throwing rocks on the roof.  At one point we looked out and it was bouncing back off the pavement and the lawn was actually white.  The high winds continued through the night and it was a frosty morning.  I waited for it to warm up and then decided I would hop on Lucy because it was sunny and my day off.  My new gear rocks my world and I am toasty warm in it.  I headed out my favorite route West Saanich road out to the Peninsula.  I decided to treat myself to lunch at the 3rd Avenue Cafe, it was fabulous!  Had a cup or two of the demon bean and had the 3rd Avenue burger.  After that I set off for home, but made a detour and buzzed down to Island View beach.  It was pretty windy and the remnants from the storm could be seen, it had tossed up a piles of logs on the walk way.  I had a wonderful ride and I have to say motorcycling is definitely a zen thing, calms the spirit, releases endorphins and just plain fun.

Lucy has informed me she wants to live in a tropical climate.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

2011 A Momentous year for Princess Scooterpie

2011 has been a momentous year for me.  In January of this year I made a fateful decision to start riding a scooter without formal motorcycle training - which turned out to be a bad decision.  I had a rather tumultuous start to my scooter journey with a crash on the test drive. (Believe it or not I actually got up off the pavement and finished the test ride) My biggest mistake was getting on the scooter without professional training and not telling my hub, who I affectionally call Motorcycle Man, that I had wiped out. I was pretending to myself that everything was 'fine',  but in reality I wasn't fine.  I have to say in my defense and shock filled state of mind, I was worried that Motorcycle Man wouldn't let me buy a scooter as a result.  It seemed logical at the time.

I called Motorcycle Man at work 6 hours later to come and take me to the ER or clinic because I had hurt myself and was in shock and much to Motorcycle Daughter's utter fear I almost passed out on her several times and she was not very happy with me at all. It is amazing what happens to you several hours after an accident when the adrenalin finally dumps out of your system, you start shutting down from the shock which was worse because I ignored the symptoms. After being checked out and having one hell of a bruise on my thigh, needing some serious pain killers and help just being mobile, I survived. My entire right leg was purple from the crest my hip to down below my knee on the front and back. Luckily I hadn't broken anything, but it hurts like hell when you hit pavement.  I could hardly walk and my leg is still suffering the ill effects of my first encounter of the scooter kind, some 11 months ago.   I still don't know how I managed to talk Motorcycle Man into purchasing my beautiful sapphire blue 50cc Vino scoot two days later.  I was in a rush to get out on the road on my scooter and can't help but think if I had done this properly with professional training I wouldn't have dumped the scooter in the first place.  Hindsight is as they say 20/20.  So if you are a little myopic, I will lend you my 20/20 hindsight vision and say "GO GET TRAINING"

After my initial rough beginnings I took to the scooter like a duck takes to water.  I was in love with everything two wheeled.  I thought I would be content with the 50cc's, but after a few scooter adventures out into the country side I knew I needed something bigger, my little scoot is great for in city commuting, but did not allow me to venture onto higher speed roads, which in hindsight is a good thing due to my lack of formal training. After several months of riding I wrote the motorcycle learner's license test and passed.  That was September 1st, and it was the day my 2 wheeled life changed, I was elated.  I can tell you from firsthand experience that there is a steep learning curve with scootering and motorcycling.  Not being prepared for the 3,000 pounds of rolling car death coming your way is a big mistake, they win, you lose and this reality is what made me decide to get professionally trained.

As a fledgling motorcyclist I needed skills that would help me survive in the chaos of traffic and give me the street smarts to know what to do and act reflexively in traffic situations.  One bad decision or misjudgement can cost you dearly and for that reason I signed up for a Novice motorcycle course and  Traffic Safety course.   I chose to do my training with Vancouver Island Safety Council (VISC).  It has been the smartest thing I have done since getting on 2 wheels.  

On Tuesday, October 18th, I took my ICBC road test and passed.  I have had my license for a month!  I have also learned that you have to recognize your skill level and ride within it. Over time and experience your skill set grows along with your confidence with continued training.  Every time I encounter a situation in traffic I think about it and always wonder "Is there anything I could have done differently or better?"  When you stop asking yourself that question it is time to hang up the bike keys, there is always room for improvement and learning.

I am committed to continuing the motorcycle learning process and today I attended a Winter/Wet Weather workshop put on by instructors of VISC.  It was an informal workshop, but we covered everything from cold/wet weather gear to driving techniques.  It was very informative and helped me think of my riding in these conditions differently and always keep safety first and foremost.  We ended our workshop with a group ride and it was a cold and a brilliantly sunny winter day with the temp about 5 to 6 degrees celsius, it was cold, but amazing.  I can't tell you how happy I am that I went with VISC, the instructors are professional and their commitment to teaching students safe motorcycling is their first priority.  They answered the call of VISC alumni for this type of workshop and encourage us to continue  learning and upgrading our skills. 

The courses are comprehensive and give you the skills to be a proficient well trained motorcyclist.

See the frost, it was that cold this morning!

VISC Alumni after the classroom session, it was group ride time!

I am in the pink Helmet and my fellow motorcyclist Debra

If you are contemplating becoming a motorcyclist or scooterist, please value yourself enough to take professional training, it may just save your life or someone else's because 'you' won't put their lives at risk because of a bad driving decision you have made.  If you have been riding for a long time, it might be time to consider brushing up your skills by taking an Experienced Rider's course, it is never too late to polish up or learn new skills!  

For information on courses offered by  Vancouver Island Safety Council visit their website, email:  telephone:  250-478-9583

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Wanderings on a Tuesday & another beautiful sunset

Oak Bay Marina

Nothing makes me happier after a long day at work to go home and nest with my family, particularly in the winter months.  We haven't really started winter yet and we are already longing for the warm days of spring and summer.  Autumn in Victoria is spectacular with all the beautiful colors of the trees lining most residential streets.  Today was just another ordinary Tuesday and I was slogging it out behind the keyboard, all the while looking out the window and wishing I could play in the sunshine.  Lucy as usual was calling from her basement parking spot nagging to come play and ride twisties.  On the way home I decided to go the scenic route that I love to take.  I never ever get tired of looking at sunsets and the beautiful Strait of Juan de Fuca.  The sun was dancing off the water and I know shortly we won't be seeing her as much because old man Winter wants to grip the Pacific Northwest in his frozen grasp.  Personally I could say "Buh bye" to old man winter and honestly I don't think I would miss it that much.  I did 17 years worth of winters up north and that was enough to last me a lifetime.  Hope you enjoy the pictures from my tootle home.