Aug 20, 2006

helping out...

helped out with a basic rider course today at alamance community college. was a looooonnggg day, but well worth it...

the class usually starts at 0800. today, it started at 0700 because the instructors wanted to get a jump on the heat. and i showed up a before that so i could help get the bikes ready and set up the range.

i got a lot more involved in this class than i did in the last one i helped out with... i actually got to provide some coaching to the students, ride some demos and perform the skills evaluation. overall, the class was a good one, but not without its moments...

the heat was grueling... i don't know how hot it got and i don't want to know - it'll make me realize how crazy (or maybe stupid) i am for being out there in the heat. anyway, i did survive with plenty of fluids. some of the students weren't fairing as well, so we were giving them more and more breaks - which attributed to the longer day. apparently yesterday they had an older guy drop the class because the heat was giving him leg cramps - probably a good decision.

today we had one "problem" student - she was having trouble figuring out clutch control and the friction zone. she would ease the clutch out until it hit the friction zone, the bike would start getting underway then she would pop the clutch out - the majority of the time stalling the bike. towards the end of the day, it looked like she was power-walking the bike to enough speed she could pop the clutch out without stalling the bike. no matter how stressed eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeasing the clutch out, she just couldn't grasp the concept. during the exercises, this was passable, but it would be her downfall during the evaluation.

when it came to the quick stop evaluation, she would get about ten feet and stall the bike. ten feet, stall the bike. about half way up, after stalling, i think she realized she was doomed. she broke down and started crying. of course she was blaming the bike. i do have to say that she was on a new bike during the evaluation - something we try not to do. but she was having problems shifting the previous bike she was on. as students do, they want to blame the bikes for their problems. i will admit these aren't necessarily the best bikes around - but they are adequate for the class. the majority of time the students the one with the problem. but we'll swap out bikes to placate them... there was no way she was going to get the shifting down - heck, she couldn't even get the bike under power. so, it was easier to swap bikes...

now she's sitting here, crying, and holding up the rest of the class. i think she pretty much knew she was going to fail... the other instructor told her that if she can get back to the starting point and run the evaluation without stalling, she could continue. she agreed. we started walking back to our evaluation position when we heard the bike stall. all i said to the other instructor was i know that wasn't the bike just stalling. once we got to our positions, we turned around - she hadn't moved very far. at that point, she realized she couldn't complete the evaluation. she got off the bike, removed her helmet and walked away... that was pretty much the last we saw of her - other than to come back and get the keys to the classroom so she could get her stuff.

after the range, we got to go into the classroom. an extremely welcome break considering the heat!! we covered a couple more topics before the students took the written evaluation. everyone passed - well, everyone that was still there!! after completing the written exams, i got to talk to the students about how they did on the skills evaluation. it was cool talking to people and gaining insight into their experience. one of the best feelings for me is transforming someone who's never been on a bike before into someone who's enthusiastic about riding and looks forward to continuing learning. we do stress that this is only a beginner course and that in order to become better - they must continue to practice and learn.

after the class, i stayed and talked to dave for a bit. he was happy to have me out there - especially since having an extra person on the range with the heat was helpful. he liked the way i interacted with the students today and thinks i'll make a good instructor. time will tell. i think he's going to try to help me get some more classes - that would be most excellent.

overall, it was a great day. i learned a lot - i think i'm really going to enjoy teaching... what i learned most, though, was it's time to stop doing these classes for free!! while the experience has been invaluable, and i wouldn't not do it, i'm going to have to carefully weigh my decision to keep doing it for "free".