Sunday, May 15, 2016

Ripping up the tarmac in the Greater Victoria Motorcycle Skills Challenge

Saturday, May 14th, 3 local police agencies united to run a motorcycle skills challenge clinic. 

The CRD Integrated Road Safety Unit (IRSU) which is comprised of members of the RCMP, Victoria Police and Saanich Police put this event on in conjuction with ICBC who sponsored a $1000 gear giveaway.  My riding school Vancouver Island Safety Council also participated as we offer courses to strengthen riders skills at every stage of their skill development; novice riding classes, traffic skills classes, right up to experienced riders courses.  

This event was about riding community engagement, studies have been released that show over time riders skills can deteriorate primarily through lack of practice and not taking skill upgrading courses.  Striking statistics in a study of male riders ages 49 to 70 have shown higher rates of crashes in riders in this age group. Most of this is due to lapses in riding with people taking long breaks from riding and thinking the skills they learned 20 years ago will still be there and as reflexive, which generally is not the case. People overestimate what their skill level is particularly if they are seasonal riders.  Even the most seasoned well practiced riders routinely work at honing their skills. Friends of mine who are police riders regularly practice skill handling and practice at the start of their shifts.  Its the simple things that we lose; good strong shoulder checking, scanning gets lazy, sightlines deteriorate and basic handling such as slow speed skills and steering in emergency situations with quick stops all suffer over time. One of the most important things is situational awareness, people don't scan far enough ahead and aren't anticipating hazards in their riding environment or being ready to take action. Another is lane dominance, it drives me absolutely nuts when I see riders giving up their lane dominance by riding in the wrong lane position. Owning your lane through lane dominance does two things it discourages other vehicles from sharing your space and it increases your visibilty to other drivers both around you and coming towards you. Conspicuity in traffic is the 'art of being seen' and this is acheived through lane dominance and wearing higher visibility clothing.  Most drivers when they collide with a bike say "I didn't see them", it makes sense to increase your visibility by asserting lane dominance and wearing hi viz clothing or a traffic vest. Riders have a huge part to play in their safety by making sure they are anticipating hazards in their evirinment by using good SIPDE hazard detection skills (Scan Identify Predict Decide Execute).  

Now that we've talked a little about the reasons for the event lets take a look at some pics of the artistry of riding.  I saw some pretty hella amazing skills on Saturday. Quite a few of the riders who attended benefitted from the coaching provided by the IRSU members and VISC instructors involved.

RCMP and Saanich PD members playing follow the leader. This my friends is amazing riding! Sightlines, space management, and lots of practice.  Practice makes better! Don't think that the pro's are immune to bike drops, they aren't and there were a few tip overs, but it is the continued practice that allows them to ride like this.

Check out those sightlines! 

This is my instructor colleague Jeff, he has the most incredibley fierce riding skills.  He makes it look effortless, he is killing the course.  His youtube channel is MrMadbiker1 check out his videos.  Check out the link. 

This gentleman showed up on his vintage Indian with a side shifter and foot clutch.  You should have seen him taking this bike through the cones.  Gorgeous bike!

My iphone does not do this bike justice!

It was a great day! Everyone took away positive skill building techniques myself included.  

I was a little tentative at first, most think I am extremely outgoing and extroverted, but in reality I am an introverted extrovert - I know that is a confusing statement, but in some respects I am shy and get the jitters and a wee bit of performance anxiety.  I wasn't too keen on trying the course, but then decided to suck it up and give  it a try.  I got some coaching from an IRSU member and one of my instructor colleagues and eventually was whipping off figure 8's in a tight circle like it was a smooth as butter. With a bit of coaching my figure 8's where getting tighter and tighter and easier to do. My instructor boss was coaching me and he had me stop and then he kicked the cones in about a foot making the circle even smaller, at first I thought "Eek!", but then realized it was no biggie.  

I have had the Duchess for a year now and this was truly the first time in that time period where I have pushed her and myself. I also have greater confidence in the Duchess now that we have installed lowering links, its changed her handling for the better for me and I am glad I made this decision and very happy that my hub did the research and the mechanical work. 

After this my sightlines and handling improved and I was flicking my 500 pound Honda through the slalom and the back to back uturn maze confidently.  Again the key was getting my head turned further  and better sightlines.

I could have spun circles and 8s all day! Was I ever having fun! 

This was crazy! It was a series of 3 turns, it showed me that I really needed to get my head turned & eyes up and looking through to the next turn and end gate.  Imagine that what a novel idea of looking where you want to go!

I eventually went and tried the harder layout and loved the gate slalom, I did get a wee bit lost on where to go because it was at the very end of the day, but it was fun just the same. I was so glad I was a part of this event because I learned stuff and had improvement in my skills, I also realize I need to continue my skill building process. The bonus from today is I have a better understanding of my bike's handling and was flicking 500 pounds around like it was nothing and that made me hear the moto angels singing and I was in cone nirvana and yes practice does make better.

 Now If only I could find more cones....guess what I want for my birthday next month - traffic cones! 


Andrew Thomson said...

Looks like you had a fun day. I'd be too scared of those dodgy orange cones to give it a bash...

Nice Indian, were his footboards a scraping?

Dar said...


It actually wasn't too bad once I got my sightlines and head turned more and really used my clutch. It did wonders for me to love my bike. The really unnerving part was when a motorcop joined me in the figure 8 circle behind me, I was doing ok but found that a little distracting of my attention. The fellow on the Indian was just doing beautiful easy smooth turns, he had lots of control. It was a gorgeous bike! I bet you could do this stuff its easier than you think.

SonjaM said...

Dar, this is pure moto acrobatics, great shots of your action. In the beginning of every season I practice these agility exercises. I still marvel at the moto career that you have built up for yourself. From novice scooterist to mistress of the cones.

Tripping Sister! said...

Very cool.

Trobairitz said...

Great job Dar!!

I always have to tell myself to turn my head more - it is never enough.

Charlie6 said...

Nice job learning and trusting your motorcycle through the tight maneuvers....when one gets it right, its almost magical.

David Masse said...

OMG you rock!!!

I so need to practice low speed agility manoeuvres. You are an inspiration.

Rania Madanat said...

You sis are just amazing. You continue to surprise me. You really found something you loved and you just keep testing your skills at it. Cheers to you! Oh and the guy on the Indian is hardcore! lol

Dar said...

Sonja - I have to say I am completely surprised by how this has turned out. It has been quite a trip full of surprises.

Tripping Sister - Yes it is!

Trobairitz - I thought I had that down, particularly with harping at my students about it, but I guess not and I need to keep working on it.

Charlie6 - Yup it was feeling pretty magical and I felt like the bike and I had finally come to an understanding and that we were a team not me fighting her through the exercises. But there does come a time as to when that current bit of magic ended, I was having so much fun that I kept on doing it without realizing the sheer physicality of it and that I need to quit because things were getting sloppy again.

David - I actually enjoy this part of riding quite a bit, I love the technical part of the maneuvers. Its fun once you get it all gelling and I have to say it does wonders for my road skills and riding home that day felt as smooth as butter!

Rania Madanat - You know what motorcycling it like it offers unique experiences and presents interesting things. The fellow on the Indian was pretty darn cool! It was pretty awesome to se him push that bike.

Deb said...

Glad you are having fun navigating those cones. Lookin' good there, sista!

Kathleen said...

I was just talking to my husband about taking an advanced course. I need to brush up, especially tight turns.

Tony McGurk said...

Great Post!!! You're so right about skills deteriorating. Started riding bikes at 16 & I sold my last bike when I was 30. Took up riding again at 50 on a 125cc Scooter for commuting & as I'd let my bike licence lapse all those years ago I had to start over on a Learner licence again. The Learner & subsequent Provisional licence training courses taught me so much that I'd never learned back when I first got my bike licence at 16. Motorcycle training courses didn't exist here at that time. Had the Scooter for 5 1/2 years & traded up to a Suzuki 750 6 months ago. Jumping back on a bigger bike at my age was a bit daunting after 5 years of Scootering & took some getting used to after 35 years. Your post has reminded me to do more skills practice, especially slow tight turns & emergency braking practice.

Dar said...

Kathleen - It is well woth the money, time and energy. Tight turns are all about sightlines and turning your head. Good luck and keep practicing!

Tony McGurk - its amazing the new skills we learn even if we are experienced. Things get rusty and routine practice helps that. i regularly go out and practice slow speed manoeuvres, uturns and emergency braking. After this course my turns and ebraking were so much better and way more efficient. Keep practicing and good for you getting your license again and congrats on the new bike!