Sunday, March 29, 2015

It's Official I am a fully licensed motorcycle instructor

I am still pinching myself! I finished my Motorcycle Instructor Trainee practicum and am now ready to embark on my teaching career.  The weather wasn't perfect, but honestly I am glad we had a wet and soggy weekend, as I told the students "Rain happens, it's only water" it's good that they are exposed to all kinds of weather because it's not always sunny days.  
I am taming the paperwork dragon before the students do their MSA/MST.
Part of being an instructor is riding the motorcycle skills assessment test as a demo for students. The MSA Test Officer is running through the pre-ride explanation in prep for my ride. 
It's a little unnerving having 2 senior instructors watch and then add 11 students into that and the stress can be over the top. Usually I would stress out, but not today, I just did it and rode it flawlessly. In the end I  actually I rode it for myself and it felt good!
All of the students rode their MSAs and passed!  I feel very humbled by the small part I played, in the end it's like watching baby birds fledge.  Now most are ready for their traffic class and continue their skill development as new motorcyclists. 
This was the most satisfying part of the process, here they sign their course completion paperwork, my job is done at this point.  Well done students! 

I am so grateful to my senior instructor mentors, who guided me through the entire process and hope that I will be lucky enough some day to mentor new instructors.
It's official weekend 2 PM class is done & my successful practicum complete! It still feels surreal! My first official course is in 2 weeks and I am STOKED!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

It's a journey! What a ride!

This weekend was the end and beginning for me, it's almost the end of my training cycle as a motorcycle instructor trainee culminating in the beginning of my instructing career.  It's been a very a comprehensive process packed full of learning motorcycle theory in written form and practical tarmac sessions.  I've gone through over 100 hours of training and now it's all getting strung together and I am applying the knowledge I've learned.  I have discovered the wonder, joy, exhilaration, and challenge of teaching and mentoring. From time to time there is little nervous angst thrown in just to keep it spicey.  I am learning the challenging act of walking backwards and talking students through an exercise before they run the manoeuvre. I still need to work on this a little, darn cones pose issues even when one is not riding, but in all fairness I wasn't looking where I wanted to go, and one of my students pointed out that I wasn't practicing what I was preaching, I quipped back I was just demonstrating the cause and effect of the action. (Touché says the student) It was the proverbial  Grasshopper "Snatch the pebble from my hand" moment. 

The hardest thing I have found is taking reflexive day to day actions breaking them down and teaching it to students. It's harder than you think, because there are so many movements and actions we do as experienced motorcyclists and translating that to students takes deliberate thought and process to relay it to them in a way that they take the lesson and apply the skill.  It is pretty heady stuff and at times when a student finds something difficult it's finding the approach to get the message through, sometimes it as simple as the student overthinking, or lack of belief in themselves, and at times the shear volume of information they are taking in can be overwhelming. In terms of teaching, I am learning that keeping it simple and giving them the information they only need to know is better rather than drowning them in minutiae and motorcycle white noise so to speak.  

My school has a team centred partner approach which is awesome! You work with another instructor and team teach, I am being mentored by my instructor and other instructors and the bonus is I am mentoring new riders.  I was a little anxious at first because it's something new and I've only taught the course in chunks to my fellow instructor trainees and passively observed a full complete course.  I've learned very valuable techniques and had great feedback from my practicum supervisor.  The novice students are growing in confidence and skill, and through this my confidence and skill set is also growing. I will always be learning and striving to do it better and more efficiently, I think it will always be an evolving process of growth and change.  It was pretty cool discussing teaching methods and results with my instructor mentor and using that insight to fine tune and find my teaching style and groove. The practicum is very intense because I'm delivering the bulk of the lessons, but that will change and it will be a little less intense when I'm teaching subsequent courses. So far I am loving this, it's pretty amazing and I actually can't even put it into words, the best feeling to compare it to is that moment when you find the perfect twisty road on a sunny day, it's BLISSFFUL.  Sorry for the lack of pics, but honestly I was too busy! 

Wish me luck as I finish my practicum next weekend.  

Sunday, March 8, 2015


This weekend has been AMAZING!  We are in full-on blooming spring mode with stellar temperatures being in the low teens (Celsius).  For the last 3 weekends I have observed a group of students learn to ride through my riding school's novice course and traffic course.  'Incredible' is really the only way I can describe the process.  I am awe struck by the tenacity of these fledgling riders and their age diversity from very young to very life experienced.  They remind me of little chicks learning to fly testing their wobbly wings.  

The traffic fleet is diverse in style to cc's and generally there is a bike for everyone.  Last year the school added a Honda CB500f and I was lucky to get to take it for a spin. I was pleasantly surprised that I liked the CB500 so much, it is the furthest style away from my cruiser. Our school encourages students at the end of their traffic course to experiment and try all the bikes, as most haven't bought a bike this early in the game and it gives you a good opportunity to try different riding styles, cruiser, dual sport, and sport bike.  

My friend Deb is an instructor and this weekend we were observing a traffic course.  Yesterday when I left it was just the beginning of sunrise, today because of daylight saving time it was still dark & cold, what a difference an hour makes! (Sorry for the grainy pic)

My instructor mentor suggested I ride one of the schools newest additions to the traffic fleet, the Harley Davidson Street 500.  So not only do students get learning opportunities, fledgling instructors do too.  Harley has two new bikes a 500 & 750 model, which are water cooled, low slung cruisers.  I think the 500 is going to be a very good entry level cruiser for everyone. They don't look like the usual HDs and surprisingly don't sound like the traditional throaty potato potato low rumble.  They sound like some of the Japanese cruisers, very quiet and soft, there is no signature rumble.  That was a little disappointing, but I quickly got over that.  I could not believe how light weight it was, in fact, it was lithe.  The 500 weighs in at 489 pounds. Getting on and off was easy peasy I am only 5'3" and my feet were securely planted when sitting on it, no acrobatics happening here like I usually have to do when getting on and off some bikes. 

I was also surprised at how agile the bike was and how manoeuvrable.  The bike is fuel injected and started up with ease.  Then the fun began!  I rode the bike for 8 hours and I have to say I had so much fun.  It goes like the wind and the acceleration is fast & easy.  The steering is agile and when I was carving corners and twisties it was so much different than Scarlett, it was absolutely effortless.  Going down the highway was easy!  The 500 was so easy to ride, but if I was getting one I'd probably get the 750 for the extra cc's. The seat was comfortable and I wouldn't change it to a custom seat.  I really like the bubble housing on the headlight and the fender, it reminded me of cafe racers.  I like the understated elegance and lack of chrome, don't get me wrong I like bling, in fact I'm the princess of bling, but sometimes less is more.  

*nudge* David Masse,  I think you should have a look at this if you are considering a 'shifter', I think this would rock as a daily commuter and as a distance bike and it was easy and comfortable to ride.

At the end of a very happy weekend of riding I also took the new Honda CB300 for a spin, I really liked this bike, albeit it is more of a sport bike styling.  So now I am even more confused about my future moto love.  I guess  motorcycles are a bit like a box of smarties, so many to choose from and 1 smartie is never really enough!  

I am happy, exhausted, and ready to do my practicum.  Today the group of 4 students I followed from novice class to traffic all passed and are doing their road tests in the next few days or weeks.  I know they are going to do great and it is very exciting being part of the process.   I think I am going to like this instructor gig!