May 16, 2006

finally done...

it's finally over... and i passed... have lots to talk about in this post. i may end up breaking it into several posts... or i may just end up giving a quick recap and be done with it...

typical friday - packing at the last minute. debating whether to take the bike or not. wanted to take it, but wasn't sure about the weather. friday and saturday were supposed to be nice, sunday was supposed to be thunderstorms. in the back of my mind, i kept thinking about last weekend when josh and doug rode home in the rain - cold, miserable rain. wasn't sure i was going to be on board for that... well, i decided to take it, which made packing a little easier. i decided this time i'm only packing the minimum amount of stuff i'd need. and packing it all in plastic zip-lock bags to prevent them from getting soaked. i also had a little pressure to pack since we had to be out there an hour early to set up for the real class.

so i get packed up, load everything on the bike and head out. quickly decided to take the interstate because i didn't want to worry about time. i figured i knew about how long it would take me if i drove the interstate - wasn't so sure if i took the more scenic route. ride out was good - weather was nice and traffic wasn't bad. got there a little early and a couple guys were already there. we chatted before heading over to the college.

this weekend we got to teach a real class. this was it, the real thing. i was a little nervous - always the chance i'm going to screw up... but george and i had been working on the material we needed to cover. i felt i knew our stuff pretty well. we get to the college and start setting up the room. once that was out of the way, we waited for the students to show up. and show up they did. i don't know what i was expecting, but the people walking in sure weren't it. and of course you make your first impressions - certain people are going to do well and others are going to struggle and/or fail. one of the things you have to remember is that you can't rely on first impressions - they will prove you wrong. so i just filed them away, hoping everyone would pass.

first night went smoothly. we all did our little presentations and they went well. we did get into a damn-if-you-do / damn-if-you-don't situations... it was time for class to start and one of the students wasn't there. sheila didn't know whether to start class or not. we could see it now - if she started class, she would get dinged for starting class without everyone present. if she waited, she would get dinged for starting late. she started class on time and one student short. of course that student walked in minutes later - but she got dinged... oh well, it was expected.

while we were teaching friday night, it decided to thunderstorm. it was unexpected and only lasted about ten, maybe fifteen minutes. thankfully we were inside and not out riding. and by the time we finished up class that night, it had cleared up. i was prepared to ride in the rain, but thankful i didn't have to.

finishing class friday night was a relief. not really tough or anything, just thankful to have it started and everything going well. and a lot easier than we originally expected. but, it's good to be over-prepared than under-prepared. after class, we went out to eat. late dinner, but it wasn't a late night. most of us were tired and wanted to get some sleep for class the next day.

saturday - nice, beautiful day. got there early, got the bikes out on the range, warmed the bikes up, and got the range set up. again, things were going smoothly. and things would continue to go smoothly all day. our teaching went well and the students were progressing. some had pervious motorcycle experience and some had none. they progressed at different rates, but they all progressed - and it was neat to see.

george and i had two lessons to teach. the first lesson, lesson three for those of you with programs, went okay. it's amazing that no matter how simple you make the instructions and how many times you repeat it, people just don't listen. we had two parts to our exercise. in the first part, once the cone in front of you was clear, you could ride to that cone. explain, explain, and explain... did people ride to the cones when the one in front of them was clear?? no!!! still had to give them signals to proceed. when they got to me, i would explain it again... still didn't do any good. it was amazing - but i guess they're thinking about other things. same thing happened during part two. this time they were to ride to the end of the line once the last cone was free. and once they stopped at the last cone, they were to clear the cone and head to the other line. did they do that?? no!!! they stopped at the last cone and waited there until the line they wanted to get into was open. which meant the other riders had to wait... again, explain, explain, and explain.

i did have one close call. well, not really a close call, but something that raised my awareness. one person had just started riding in the line and they next guy in line was pretty far from the start point. so i signaled him to come up to the start line. i turned my attention to the other line. then i turn my attention to the riding lanes and there's the guy - halfway down the lane, riding up on the first rider. i couldn't believe it - how did he get there so quickly. at least nothing happened - not even a close call. i was kind of surprised i didn't get dinged for it in the debrief. but i guess i handled it well and there was no dangerous situation present.

so saturday went well. wrapped up saturday evening and headed out for dinner. a couple people were ready to cut loose. four weeks of this stuff, pressure was building and people were ready to have a good time. dinner was a lot of fun. lots of laughs, with each other and at each other. here we were, brought together with the common goal of teaching motorcycle safety. we had all made a new set of friends - some friends closer than other. some of us will stay in touch - other won't. we all have good intentions to stay in touch - some will make it work, others will die out. so after dinner, we look for a bar. and find one. it was a small place. main floor with an upper balcony overlooking the lower floor. we opted for the balcony, got our drinks and shouted at each other over the music. we were all having a good time, except george. it wasn't his type of environment. can't really say it was mine - or is my type of environment any more. but i adapted - it's only one night. george couldn't handle it and just stormed out. didn't say a word to anyone, climbed over a couple people and headed out. we couldn't believe it. sheila, who had driven, went out looking for him to make sure he was okay and offer him a ride back to the hotel. about fifteen minutes later she returned - couldn't find george. i'm thinking great... he's my roommate - what will i do when i get back to the room and he's not there?? i'll face that when i get there and he's not there... we stay around for a an hour or so and decide to head back to the hotel. thank god - i was tired.

i get back to the room and george is there - whew... but he is pissed. i can understand - sort of... i can understand him not being comfortable there, but to act the way he did?? he was angry and took his frustrations out on me. we exchanged a few words, talked about it and i think he was starting to feel better. what a night... i was tired and just wanted to go to sleep.

sunday started out beautifully. weather was nice - although they were calling for thunderstorms in the afternoon. we got the bikes out to the range and started to warm them up. then jim starts barking orders out at us. do this and that. i'm thinking what's all this about?? but i do it. then he stops us at the corners - turn your wheel, turn your head, start and make the turn. now i'm thinking this is nuts. we have other bikes to get out and warm up. after the second round of this, i tell him screw it, we have bikes to get out before the students get there. he tells me no, keep riding, others will get the bikes out. right... i stage the bike and head to the shed to get the other bikes. screw him... i don't know what he was trying to pull...

the morning went well. george and i finished our last assignment before lunch. great - we're done. more importantly, i'm done!!! all except for helping the others. but that was easy. right after lunch, as we got started with an exercise, the sky decided to open up. thunder and lightening. time to get off the range. so we head to the class and decide to give the students the written exam. while we're in there, it decided to hail. and my bike is sitting out there getting pounded. three of us with bikes out there. when it stopped hailing, we head out to check our bikes. i was dreading looking at mine. believe it or not, no damage - just wet. boy was i glad.

after the students finished the written test, the weather had cleared so we decided to get them back out on the range. now we took them out there without letting them know the results of the written test. i think i would have told them. i know it was weighing on their minds. now they have to do the skills test, wonder how they did on the written test. i just thought it might put them at ease. so we run them through the rest of the exercises and get them ready for the skills evaluation. i think i was just as nervous for them as they were to take the test. of course they all passed. and it was rewarding to watch them all pass.

my earlier, preconceived notions were blown to hell. but i knew they would be. some of the people i thought would struggle actually did better than some of the people i thought might breeze through. and that's why we can't make judgments about people. they all did well enough to pass. and it was a good feeling to know that we helped them pass this milestone in their lives.

after the range, it was back inside to present them with their certificates. and after they got theirs, we got ours. before we got ours, they were told that we were in training as well, and that we had all passed. i know some of them were wondering why they had twelve instructors. and now they knew. and they got to watch us get our certificates. it was nice getting the certificates - finally done... or is this just the beginning?? i'm thinking it's just the start...

most people beat feet out of there. i didn't necessarily rush out of there, but i didn't hang around either. i was anxious to get home. and i had the weather to contend with. i'll post about my ride home later... for now, just suffice it to say, i'm glad we all graduated - it was rewarding. but now i'm ready to get home.

on a final note... i touched on it in my first post about the class, and i talked about it here again. preconceived notions... if you go back and read, i mentioned that i couldn't figure out why some people were there, that i couldn't see some of them as instructors, that i thought some would wash out. again, i was wrong. at the end, i could see people's motivation to be there. and most of them were there because they believe it motorcycle safety and want to promote safety. i say most - there was one, maybe two that were there for other reasons - but i won't get into that. some of the ones i thought would (or should) wash out, again, turned out to be surprising - and will turn out to be great instructors. although i will say that the couple that i thought would rise to the top, did. again, when you go into an environment like this and form your opinions - crumple them up and throw them away. they'll only lead to problems. more importantly, you'll overlook someone that may have some great potential. i say it at work all the time - everyone has something to learn and everyone has something to teach. we just have to keep ourselves open to learning - from everyone and anyone.

okay - i'm done with this post. thanks for bearing with me.

oh, one final note. many thanks and happy mother's day to my wife. i should have been with her on sunday. but being the unselfish person she is, and knowing how important this was to me, encouraged me to take the class, and even gave up her special day. not only her special day, but four weekends in a row. she is the best and i appreciate her. thanks boo...