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!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Blast from the past - Riding Pillion

Yesterday I rode pillion, I haven't really done this since I earned my motorcycle license.  We have two motorcycles in our garage and only one of them is insured - and it's mine. Once upon a time, on lovely summer days back in the '80's you would find me and then boyfriend riding all over Northern BC.  Those were heady days, we used to go everywhere on his bike!  I continued to ride on the back off/on over the years, but that seemed to pretty much come to an end when we had our kiddo, it wasn't practical and it didn't lend itself to much riding time. 
The cruiser is my hubby's bike Honda V45 Magna, he's had it since 1983, he used to pick me up for dates on that baby and I'd hop on and away we'd go!
At one time I was a great pillion passenger, you couldn't ask for better. I never fidgeted or leaned the wrong way.  For the most part I was very content, although my view was mostly obscured by the back of the hub's head.   I loved nothing more on a hot summer day to go for a ride on some twisties.  It was the time of my youth and bck then there really was no motorcycle gear to speak of and I shudder at our lack of gear.  I rode on the back of the bike for 28 years and then all of that changed when Pandora's moto box was opened with the scooter.
My impressions of my experience of riding pillion I would have to say it feels very odd sitting on the back. K said that when I have ridden on the back on two occasions that I am squirmy now.  He says he can feel my hands twitch when he shifts, brakes, and rolls on/off the throttle.  He he says he can feel my left foot wiggle around when you would be throwing in a shift, it's reflexive.  My bike also has a very unforgiving passenger seat and does not have a sissybar, I felt like I was going to slide off.  Its funny I didn't enjoy the ride as much as I used to and actually felt anxious for some odd reason, its hard now to give up control. 

  This seat is not conducive to a comfy passenger ride
There is an art to being a pillion passenger, when the passenger does it well and leans with you and doesn't wiggle around or thunk into the back of your helmet it makes for a good ride.  I have yet to take a passenger on my bike and really haven't had a need or a desire to do so.  I think what made it more difficult as well as we were both concerned about the bike bottoming out on bumps and when corning due to the fact that I lowered, so it actually made the ride less smooth and not as fluid as it usually is.  I also have to hand it to those who love riding pillion and are good passengers!
So my question is would you ride pillion? Or do you think you could not handle giving up control?  Got to say the view from the back was not as nice from the front and it was awkward trying to crane my neck around over the hub's shoulder.  I think next time we will take the car ;)  

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Spot on??? Satellite trackers versus cellphones

I am contemplating a 1 or 2 week road trip with a friend and feel the need to invest in a little technology, because cellphone coverage can be spotty.  Last night I went to a bike night event and listened to the tale about  a woman's solo trip to New Zealand.  It got me thinking about safety and whole bunch of other things which I need to sort out in the next few months.    This trip will see me staying within my countries borders. 

There are several satellite driven trackers or personal safety beacons out there that allow coverage where cellular just doesn't go.  There are brand options where you have to pay a monthly/yearly subscription.  

I am intrigued by the personal beacon unit that the lady adventurer has last night, it is a '5 year' beacon that you don't pay any fees or subscriptions for. 

There are other options such as the Spot which I believe you pay a monthly fee, which I am not all that keen on as I have cell and that is costly enough. 

Another friend has this satellite tracker which has text message capabilities and mapping, it has a sliding scale for fees, so when you use it more, you pay more and the months you aren't utilizing it the fee is nominal. 

So my question is to you my fellow travelling bloggers - If you use a satellite tracker what do you like about it? What don't you like about it? Which models have you tried? What to you recommend?

Monday, April 24, 2017

Meeting up with David Masse Life on 2 Wheels moto/vlogger

(Photo credit David Masse - photos are the property of David Masse)
Blogging is an interesting thing, its almost like putting a note in a bottle and tossing it into the digital ocean and not knowing if anyone will ever read or respond to it.  For Most of us, when we first start blogging you kind of feel alone in the digital universe and then you start following other like-minded blogs.  After several years of following, reading and commenting, you start to feel a kinship with your fellow bloggers. It is funny how the internet draws you into creating friendships with people you have never physically met, its almost like having an electronic pen pal.
(Photo credit David Masse - photos are the property of David Masse)

I have been following David Masse's blog since I started riding and blogging in 2011.  David rides a beautiful Vespa and shares a Honda Shadow with another blogger Sonja.  David's original blog was the Scoot Commute, a Montreal based lawyer scooting his way to and from work and epic scooter travel adventures.  David is a very adventurous blogger and has recently started a great video blog.  Check out his current blog here.  Life on Two Wheels 

I have been fortunate to link up with a few of the bloggers that I follow and in each case, it has been the first time we have met and it feels like we have known each other for years.  This has at times left my family a little worried, because I am off meeting someone who I really don't know and I caution my daughter not to do this, and of course it is a case of "Do as I say, Not as I do" and she has called me on that and I am still hearing about it. 
(Photo credit David Masse - photos are the property of David Masse )

About a week before Easter I received and email from David that he, his wife, son and daughter-in-law would be in Victoria for the long weekend and would be delighted if we could meet for coffee.  I was so excited and it was such a pleasure to meet David, Susan, Andrew and Anoushka.  We had a lovely time at coffee and then met them for a lovely dinner at a local eatery, my daughter tagged along which was a bonus. 

PS: David hope you don't mind, but I pinched a few pictures off your blog, its hard finding a picture of you on your scooter and bike, like most bloggers we usually just take pics of our scoots on our adventures. 

*Photos in this post are not to be copied without permission of David Masse

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Springtime means demo time!

The one sure way to know it's spring is the motorcycle dealers are running demo days in an effort of enticing you to part with your cash for their newest motorcycle offerings.  Saturday was a mixed bag of sun and clouds and warmer temperatures in Victoria. So it was up out of bed early, grab a quick cup of coffee which wasn't nearly enough, and we were on our way to check out Honda's newest offerings in hopes one would follow hubby home.  We looked at everything and hubby tried two, the NC750X manual and NC750 DCT. I suggested he try the Africa Twin and VFR1200, and he wasn't interested. I was tempted to take out the F6B, which is a scaled down Goldwing without the top trunk and then after sitting on the behemoth I decided against it due to how heavy it was.  I was also on a mission for my riding school to put the Rebel 300 through its paces, as we are looking at it as an addition to our traffic fleet.

Hubby was 'meh' on both NC's, although he did find the DCT automatic intriguing, but not enough to purchase it.  He found the manual NC a capable plain bike.  It has a reputation being compared to 'oatmeal' pokey, slow, and very low revving, the bike was designed as a commuting bike and its presence in the market has more of a solid footing in Europe due to its good gas mileage and front trunk which sits where the gas tank normally would.  He did like it, but it is not hitting any chords in his heart, so I guess it means more test drives.

I rode the Rebel 300, my impression is that it is a vast improvement over the previous Rebel 250's, which were chunky small beginner bikes.  My last experience with the 250 was a bone rattling ride which is as slow as a bowl of watery oatmeal, but it was a good entry level bike for those looking to get something light and flickable.  The Rebel 300 has more pep and is a little more agile, and doesn't shake your bones apart and has a cleaner design. It was a little sluggish for the highway and you have to quickly shift.  For our purposes it will be a good traffic bike for novice students. I was also talking to a former student who is on the petite side and she purchased the CB300F last year and liked it, but felt it was still too tall, even with lowering links.  She sat on the Rebel 300 and it was a perfect fit, so for petite riders there are two offerings the 300 and 500, which I believe share the same frame specs. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Farkle Garage Episode 8 New look, New Garage, New Stories!

Pull up a chair and join us in the garage for 30 minutes of motorcycle TV! The gang is hanging out at Bucky's Taphouse talking bike with other riders, and the Farkle Garage Band is rocking out. What does music and motorcycling have in common - therapy! Check out a Steve's  human farkle, and the muffpot brings a whole new meaning to the idea of take-out, Clive really brings to life the term Ride to Eat! Producer Ray takes us on a ride Adventure style!

Farkle Garage Episode 8