Thursday, May 18, 2017

Moto Nerd

This was me getting instruction from a master police rider in the advanced layout and yes he told me to "Turn your head!"
 
I admit it, I'm a moto nerd.  I love traffic cones, particularly when they're in intricate slow speed layouts.  This weekend I participated in a Motorcycle Skills Challenge event put on by 3 local police departments, provincial insurance corporation and the riding school I teach for, I was there as an instructor coach.  I also took the opportunity to take a few runs through the cones.
 

This event started last year at the beginning of riding season to help get riders road ready and introduce them to the concept of regular skill building practice and opportunities for training and safer choices. It was gratifying to see such a broad spectrum of riders come out and participate. The range of bikes was incredible; scooters, Honda groms, adventure bikes, dirt, sport bikes, and ginormous cruisers.
 

As an instructor it is rewarding helping people gain new skills and for others helping them refine their skills.  At times it was an eye opener of the lack of training some riders have and seeing the realization that they need further training to up their skill set.
 
                                  Warm-up & skill building area

The most rewarding moment was when I was up at the WSP cone layout which was created by The Washington State Police. The layout is a large circle with 2 cones in the centre and the rider performs a figure 8 on the inside of the circle trying not to go out of bounds as they do each loop of the 8. There was one rider who rode the entire beginner circuit and each time the figure 8 and uturns were his nemesis, but his dogged determination was tremendously inspiring and I worked harder to help him improve and work on sightlines and friction zone.  We chatted for a bit and he was so grateful and he was showing improvement.

It is these moments when I realize how encouragement and upbeat positivity can affect a rider who may be struggling, they generally just need more one on one instruction, seat time, and confidence building.  It also opens your eyes to the fact that some riders just don't know what to practice or how often. My advice to him was to get some tennis balls, cut them in half and use them as markers, go to a lot and practice u-turns, slaloms, smooth starts and quick stops. The most consistent problem for most riders is keeping their head and eyes up and 'looking where you want to go", the next would be smooth use of the friction zone when riding slow. These are the bread and butter skills of every rider.

It was a good day and I think about 100 riders came out and took advantage of the instructor coaching and riding through the sea of orange cones.

I am off to teach a new flock of riders this weekend, I'm stoked!
 


9 comments:

RichardM said...

"Moto nerd". Hadn't heard that term before… Watching folks navigate those courses is mesmerizing.

Charlie6 said...

Sure seems like being a moto nerd and mentoring new nerds is a passion of yours...good on you!

David Masse said...

Ah, tennis balls, got to get some tennis balls...

Trobairitz said...

Great job. My eyes can't process all those cones and where to go, so good on ya for doing it.

Deb said...

Keep 'em safe, Dar!

Curvyroads said...

Great job! Cones are my nemesis too! ��

Riding Jack said...

Geez, I totally wish my wife would have started with an instructor such as yourself. She's been working with a coach who consistently gives her a hard time and seems to only tell her what she does wrong. With new riders you really need to provide that positive reinforcement. A lot of instructors seem to not realize that a little positive spin on things, really does go a long way for new riders.
Good read.

Moto said...

We're all moto nerds!!

Dar said...

Riding Jack,

Maybe its times to re-evaluate who she's is getting lessons from. Sometimes it just doesn't click. I also try to use the "sandwich" approach when teaching, you layer your comments so that when you are instructing you give positive feed back and then look at the issues that crop up, but it is all in the approach and I always try to make the student feel successful and always end on a successful note. When my students are struggling, it usually means they are nervous or they are just trying to connect the dots, its a steep learning curve. I generally tell them to pause a moment and relax, take a deep breath and then we start again. The teaching environment is one fraught with nerves and there is a lot going on mentally for most new riders and sometimes even instructors, I'm always trying to figure out with each new student what makes it tick and how to approach them. Sometimes though it doesn't always work, but I try hard. It wasn't that long ago that I was a student learning to ride and I remember all the angst that students go through. Good luck to your wife! Tell her to keep at it and when she is frustrated take a deep breath and relax, it will come!