Monday, April 23, 2018

Sunshine, Motorcycles, & Sculptures ??Spring is here??!

    Weekend 3 morning class grads.

Motorcycle season teaching season is well underway, we have had 3 weekend courses so far this year and I have taught two and a refresher session as well.  It feels like winter is finally starting to retreat and spring is starting to take hold.  Mother Nature has been more than  a little confused as of late, she has been throwing rapidly cycling weather changes at us.  The old saying about Victoria is "If you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes and it'll be different."  It is true! 

My poor students were experiencing torrential rain, freezing cold winds and frosty parkinglot conditions, all of this makes for a very challenging learn to ride experience, particularly if they haven't figured out layering and waterproofing. This weekend was no exception with frenetic weather. Saturday it was so cold I had multiple layers on, and at one point I looked like a Gangster Smurf with my blue hoody pulled up over my ballcap to keep the wind at bay. I will say that motorcycle instructors are an intrepid breed, we are out on the lot teaching when most would be snuggled up in their cozy homes sipping coffee on an early Saturday or Sunday morning and not traipsing around the lot hollering "Head and eyes up, look where you want to go." The next day it completely different, it was warm  and brilliantly sunny, and I was trying to figure out what that yellow blob was in the sky.  At one point I was standing there basking in the sun's warmth. I know this is going to sound weird, but I actually kind of like when the weather is being difficult, because it helps students understand what they are facing in the real world of riding, and it is not all sunny zen-like days of twisty nirvana. 

At the end there were 9 smiling new riders who all passed their MST on the first try, they're now onto further adventures with traffic classes and road tests.  I'm pretty happy, I feel the same joy at teaching as when I've been out on a great ride, it's a kick seeing them go from wobbly tentative riders to riders gaining confidence and competence. To  reward myself I took the long way home and enjoyed the sights and smells and being in the moment.

     Beach Art Sculptures at Esquimalt Lagoon

I  buzzed by the beach, it was the perfect day to stop and soak up the sun. I've been missing the feel of the sun on my face for about 7 months, it has been grey and dark since October.  There is a magical thing happening at the beach at Esquimalt Lagoon, a beach art sculptor Paul Lewis has been creating these beautiful artworks of local and migratory birds. Esquimalt Lagoon is a bird sanctuary and is teeming with birds; seagulls, herons, trumpeter swans, and Canadian geese as well as sightings of resident eagles.  To understand the scale of most of these beautiful sculptures they are almost as big as my bike. 

Every couple of days a new sculpture seems to pop up, there is one in progress with another nest being built.  I will have to run back there during the weekend to see what it is. 

I was particularly enchanted with the crow, in her nest guarding her cache of eggs.

           Canada Goose

I loved the rendering of the Canadian Geese, their eyes where sparkling in the sun and it was so life-like. Did you know that Canadian Geese are monogamous and mate for life?  Apparently in the bird world they are stick to it kind of birds and if a mate passes they sometimes do find another mate.

It was  such a bonny sunny clear day, you could see the Olympics in the distance when looking out over the Straight of Juan de Fuca towards Port Angeles.  I am hoping the season has changed and that we will continue with this beautiful sunny weather, I had almost forgotten what the sun looked like.

Pop back in a few more days there are more sculptures to see!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

It's that time of year!

Winter is starting to reluctantly lose it's grip on the Island, but just when you think it's over -  BLAM it gets cold and rainy and a little snow and frost thrown in for good measure. This is the time of year on the Island when people start pulling their moto beasties out of winter hibernation from their moto lairs.
I have already taught one full Novice class and am just finishing up a second. This group is all my girlfriends who ride, and belong to my riding group the Moto Mama's.  My BF instructor friend Debra and I proposed to our riding school a 4 hour skill refresher course to shake out the winter cobwebs from the bikes and riders skills.  The skill levels of riders varied from very new to long term riders.
All of this was done on the Moto Mama's own bikes, which is a wonderful way to build skill on your own ride.  We had everything there from Honda CBR 250's, Honda CB500x, Vintage Yamaha 750, Triumph 900, BMW650, BMW 310, Suzuki TU250, Suzuki Gladius and a fully dressed Harley Davidson.
Getting ready to launch into an exercise which entails riding a figure 8 within a circle.  This involves good clutch/throttle control and killer sightlines.  I love doing this particular exercise and I got a chance to put the Duchess through her paces demoing the exercises, I could do this particular exercise all day long. 
                                                              The Moto Mama's

There is a mother/daughter duo in the Moto Mama's, I loved watching the interaction and how proud mom was of her girl!  I love the diversity of the bikes the Moto Mama's ride and it's so funny how each bike suits the rider so well.
                                                        Fierce women kicking cone butt!

We started right at the beginning working on rusty friction zone skills practicing slow speed slaloms, the dreaded U-turn, 90 degree turns and a weave. I always find the skills that suffer the most with most new and returning riders are the slow speed handling skills and sightlines. Some of the ladies even commented on this themselves.  The U-turn box in particular elicited a lot of groans and "Oh no way can I do that", but with a little coaching they were all whipping off U-turns like butter on a hot griddle - they were SIZZLING!

Then it was onto  brisk starts progressing through smooth up and downshifting. We worked on solid stops with good braking techniques.  Just as in our novice classes we used a building block approach layering one skill on top another. 

                                                       Look, Lean, and Believe!

After we honed those skills we worked on counter steering, getting a little speed and lean on. This is were the fun begins, everyone loves doing this particular exercise. This prompted big smiles and usually cries of "More!"      

As an instructor watching the gals put their bikes through their paces and working on skills, I could see the confidence creeping in and skills smoothing out, and that's a good feeling! I am so proud of these women, they are fierce! We had an excellent day, everyone was so happy and feeling ready to ride. 
Wondering what to practice to blow out the moto cobwebs? I suggest working on slow speed skills, go practice some figure 8's, U-turns, slaloms, brisk starts and quick stops, getting used to the weight of your bike and waiting for that old muscle memory to kick back in.  If you really want to go to town hook up with your local riding school for an experienced riders course or skill refresher. 
                                       Have fun and keep the shiny side up!
I'm putting the Duchess through her paces early in the riding season.  I love working on slow speed skills, for me it is not about going fast, I love the precision of slow speed riding. 

When bloggers meet.

Last weekend was a very busy weekend indeed!  I had the greatest pleasure of meeting two bloggers! Motorcyclist/fashion blogger Shybiker  and fashion blogger  Sheila Ephemera .  Sorry no pictures, it seems I have gotten out of blogging mode.  We met up for lunch and had a wonderful time chatting and getting to know each other.  I love it when I meet other bloggers that I have been following for a long time. Shybiker introduced me to a new blogger Sheila who just happens to live in Victoria.  We talked about everything and our conversation was wide ranging and eclectic.

Ralph has a love of fine writing instruments and I certainly appreciate the beauty of a well balanced smooth perfect pen.  I have been envious of some of the lovely pens I have seen on the blog and was so thrilled when Ralph gave me this beautiful desk pen as a memento.  I am absolutely in love with it, it is now the sacred pen on the my desk and pity the fool who tries to take it.  Thank you for this gorgeous pen! 

We had a lovely afternoon of seeing the sights and do some shopping.  Sheila is a fashion maven who thrifts a lot of her beautiful clothes and there really is an art to thrifting and being adventurous.  She is fearless with style and it was glorious watching her go through the racks and pull outfits together.  I am definitely stuck in a fashion rut, but will be paying more attention to our local boutiques as they offer such beautiful clothes and shoes and I kinda dig the idea of upcycling.  After our rambles through a few of her favourite haunts we went back to her place for tea and I was tickled pink when she gave me a peek at her closet - GLORIOUS! We chatted the afternoon away and then before I knew it, it was time to say adieu!  Unfortunately I was unable to meet up with Ralph and Sheila again on the weekend as I had teaching commitments.  But all I can say is it was memorable and I had such a fantastic time!