Apr 24, 2006

one down...

...three more to go...

just completed my first weekend of ridercoach training... whew!! a recap and some of my observations...

well, it started friday... as i think i mentioned in an earlier post, i was totally unprepared - at least packing wise. as far as the course materials, i was pretty much set there. so i was rushing around on friday, juggling work related phone calls, packing and trying to make sure i didn't forget anything. i think i was done packing about the time i needed to load up the cage and take off. yes, i took the cage because of the forecasted weather.

expecting the trip to take anywhere from three and a half to four and a half hours, i left about 12:45pm. i figured worse case that would put me there are 5:15pm leaving me enough time to check into the hotel and get to class for the 6:00pm start.

i pulled into the hotel around 4:30pm. the place reminded me of a motel you'd see along a not so traveled road. not to say the building wasn't in good shape and didn't look nice, it did - for whatever reason, it just wasn't what i was expecting. so i check in, unload my stuff into the room and hang out until it time to leave for the class. as i'm transferring stuff to the room, a guy pulls up on his ultra classic. we eventually pass each other, so i ask him if he's taking the class - kind of a no-brainer as we're all staying at the same hotel and he's riding a motorcycle. he is indeed taking the class - introduces himself as skip. he tells me he rides the bike everywhere, he doesn't own a cage. his wife does and the only time he uses the cage is when it's snowy or there's ice on the road - can't say i blame him. i forget how long skip says he's had the bike, four or five years, and it's got 88,000 mile on it. now that's some riding.

so i head back to the room to kill some time... before long my roommate, wally, shows up. now wally can hold a conversation - we talked about all sorts of things. turns out wally writes for southern motorcycle times, won a 2005 883 sporty and is a warranty administrator for rockwell automation. we chat for a bit and then head to the community college for class...

we arrive at the college and realize there weren't any clear directions/instructions of where the class would be help. wally seemed to know the building we were supposed to be in. we walk in the building and start poking around the rooms. with the amount of heavy equipment and machines in the classrooms, they definitely teach mechanics around here. now i'm thinking to myself, i need to take some classes to learn to weld so that when i decide to build my own bike, i can do some welding on it. well, that's another day and most likely far, far away. right now i'm here for a motorcycle instructor class.

we finally find the classroom - of course it's the last one on the hall. a couple people we already in the room and it looked like the instructors were scrambling around to get things ready. after the rest of the students arrived, they started class. the instructors seemed a little unorganized, like they were winging it. i don't know if they wanted to come off that way or not, but they did. it seemed to start when they couldn't decide if they were supposed to have twelve or thirteen students in the class. this was a discussion they would hold on and off through the first night and into the next morning.

the rest of the night was spent as it would have been for a "normal" class, with the instructors adding advice on how you would teach the course. while there was some structure to what they were presenting, they seemed to be referring to the manual a lot. it just wasn't as polished as i would expect it to be. i don't know if it was intended or not. anyway, friday night was spent doing the first three lessons of the book.

saturday started with the range exercises. actually, it started with us having to get the bikes from storage to the range. not necessarily a big deal, but everyone wants certain bikes. and of course no one wants the bikes at the front. which makes it hard to get the rest of the bikes out. it's amazing to watch the amount of effort people will put into maneuvering a bike around another one in a confined space as opposed to just taking the other one!! so we get the bikes out of the storage area and start firing them up to take them to the range. let me just say they weren't the best bikes around. i don't think any of them have been spared from dropping. so we get them on the range, ride around a bit and then park them in the staging area.

the instructors start talking about how to teach the range exercises, stressing, obviously, safety and coordination between the two coaches on the range. then they tell us to set up the cones for exercise one. it must have looked like a comedy of errors watching us try to figure out which were the right markings and where to put the cones. only being somewhat familiar with the range set up, it took us a while to get them all set up correctly. this would be repeated for almost every range exercise on saturday. but as the day went on, we got better at figuring out where the cones should go.

we start the first exercise, covering the controls on a bike and the differences between the bikes. something that is probably very important to know when you're actually teaching the class. we go all the way through exercise one and two. through the rest of the day, we would partially complete other exercises. we always performed the demo portion of the exercise and sometimes the actual exercise itself. of course we all know we can do the riding portion of the class, otherwise we wouldn't be here. however, when you have to perform the actual demo, it's a lot harder than it seems. i guess because you are showing how to perform an exercise, you want it to be the best it can, so you concentrate a lot harder, which actually makes it hard to perform the demo.

rain really only affected us once on saturday. it rained right after we broke for lunch, but since we were done, that wasn't much of a problem. in the afternoon, it rained again and we ended up leaving the range. i think if this had been a real class, we would have stayed on the range. but we went inside and finished all the book work. in the afternoon, we took turns teaching portions of the course. needless to say, we were unprepared so we did a lot hemming and hawing presenting the materials...

sunday was pretty much spent on the range with the exercises... we wrapped up in the classroom where they gave us assignments for the following week. this should be a lot of fun - now i have to try to find time to get the studying done...

okay - some of my observations from the weekend. the instructors seem very disorganized. they do seem to know their material, but it seems like they are just throwing it at us as they remember it or as questions are asked. as they are presenting the material, they jump and skip around a lot, so it makes it very hard to find continuity in what they are presenting. it would have been nice for them to provide a little more hands on guidance instead of letting us fumble around so much. i believe their thinking is we'll learn more by doing - which is true. but we're making so many mistakes and wasting too much time correcting the mistakes. if they would provide more guidance, we could learn a lot faster.

i can see some people already rising to the top and some sinking. i'm probably floating somewhere near the middle, closer to the top. i can't figure out why some of these people are in the class - money, ego?? i don't know, but they just don't seem to fit. and there are just some natural leaders in the class who will make good instructors. now we'll wait to the end and see how dead wrong i was about the observations i've made about the people.

seems i had some other stuff to add, but i guess this is long enough for now, huh??

ride on...