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


David Masse said...

Dar, that's really good advice that I have yet to take, though I did buy and read David Hough's Proficient Motorcycling. I ride ATGATT, and I focus on learning and staying within my skill zone. The only thing that's held me back from the training course has been the fact that I have the motorcycle endorsement on my permit and the cost (north of $600 here). Still, I want to take the course just to learn how to ride a motorcycle well. Maybe next summer.

Trobairitz said...

Great post Dar and a good reminder of how we need to continuously build on our skills.

Like David's comment above, I always wear ATGATT and also have a copy of Proficient Motorcycling that I look through now and again. I think between reading it and more practice my cornering has gotten better and faster. The book explains things very well. I need to find his second book too.

Keep smiling and riding.

Dar said...

David - Did you take your motorcycle endorsement test on your scooter? If we do that here in BC we are restricted to the cc's we took it on and type of scooter we used. You have been safely scootering and increasing your skill set through reading and by the way you drive. For me I needed to learn from scratch . If you know how to shift you're golden, just go take an experienced rider course or you can even do a one on one lesson which would just increase your proficiency.

Trobairitz - you are lucky because Trobairitz is an instructor and I bet he helps you . Practice is key. I still practice in the parking lot and still work on cornering and u-turns.

Both you and David are committed to learning which makes you good cyclists. You both practice ATGATT which is smart.

My post is mainly geared towards people who never have scooted or motorcycled. Unfortunately there are many people who go out on scoots or bikes who don't ave a clue about lane positioning, shoulder checking in blind spots or appropriate gear.

bobskoot said...


David Hough is usually at the Seattle M/C show in Seattle. He had his new book there last year and will also autograph it for you. I saw him there last year. I also went to the Sound Rider Rally in Southern WA in 2009 where we had lunch with David Hough, and he gave a talk on traction control and lane positioning.

David Hough is also giving a presentation at the rally in 2012

Riding the Wet Coast

RichardM said...

This is a nice summary with some great recommendations. Every Spring, I feel like I'm starting all over again and it seems to take quite a few miles to feel comfortable again on the bike. I listened to a couple of David Hough talks at a BMW rally last year but the focus of those were on three-wheelers (side car rigs and the Spyder.) I must admit that I picked up a signed copy of his book Proficient Motorcycling but ended up reading the book on my iPhone and iPad. Much more convenient to carry around than the hard copy.


bluekat said...

I have two of David Hough's books, and I think there is a third one I need to pick up sometime. Good reading. I agree, it's great to keep learning and taking classes. I find old habits/bad habits can slip back in after while. Good to learn new things and re-learn some old forgotten things - or maybe this is just my age showing. :)

Dar said...

Richard - I found the same thing after not riding for 2 weeks in the summer and that was only 2 weeks. Because I am so new to everything 2 wheeled I still go to the parkinglot & practice particularly if something was giving me issues. I think you can never read enough or practice enough or take too many courses.

Bluekat - I was old in my class that after 5 years of riding riders need to brush up because we get lax. I think we get lulled by our confidence & it's the easy things we let go, lie relying on mirrors instead of shoulder checks. I still feel I have so many things to learn and it's the love of riding and learning that has me hooked.