10 November 2011

Season of New Motorcycle Riders Reaches Finale

This weekend, I’ll be instructing the basic motorcycle riding course to newcomers for the last time in 2011, but oddly, unlike seasons before, I feel unusually sentimental. My 26th season as an instructor is closing. It’s probably the combination of PMS – no not that the female thing - “parked bike syndrome”. Yes motorcycling is closing down for the season and I’m rejecting it!

Students often ask, “Doesn’t this teaching ever get tiring? - no, not for me it’s eternally rewarding. My instructional experiences have taken me to training folks in the Caribbean and throughout Europe right back to Canada where it all began. I fondly remember when I took the licensing course and learned to ride- 1983, Dartmouth Nova Scotia. (*photo below shows me on rented Kawasaki 440LTD from Mic Mac Cycle.This is the first bike I took on the real road! Notice the helmet tied on? I took a male friend of mine for a ride! He was a tall fella,  6' 2" my first passenger.) 
I doubt any rider ever forgets the time they learned to ride. I recall my instructors; not their names but their faces. They were great folks and one was a woman. To me this was normal, a woman instructor/rider. We had a blast! Instructors are urged to bring the ‘fun’ factor into training. I’m sure we’ve all said “are we having fun yet?” Humour greatly reduces stress or anxiety which some students may have. Then again, instructors are characteristically fun loving, adventurous nutty folks! And that week in Eastern Canada within the parking lot of that training course my life changed; I took to riding like a mermaid to the sea! Would you believe I was the one in the class who was consistently hollered at from across the parking lot - Vicki! Slow down”! 
A good instructor continues to hone one’s own self knowledge and riding skills in order to bring the best to the student. This fits perfectly with the passion – the advancement of knowledge! I recall when I first started teaching which wasn’t that long after I became a rider- I discovered the absence of mechanical know-how. I’d never ‘wrenched’ before. Immediately I enrolled into an advanced motorcycle mechanics course. It worked! I was able to bring even more shared knowledge to my students and engage better discussions with my, mostly male, peers. Plus, I could interject if hey were talking nonsense- as often guys do! *wink*. (pictured below, though poor quality, is me riding over the 'teeter-totter" part of rider training back then!)

No matter the character, culture, age or mindset of the student, my enthusiasm for bringing a learner into the total realm of motorcycling is nonstop! And my specialized focus to women riders, as a woman who has gone through the rungs in a ‘male directed sport’- transmits a broader (no pun intended) language for proficient, confident motorcycle operation.
So... here’s to the motorcycle training course finale of 2011!  Here’s to the students, the newcomers this weekend who too, will make the very same discovery, motorcycle riding which to this day has continued to thrill me and give me “kicks” beyond …expression! Yes, thank you God for motorcycling!


Dar said...

I loved this post! Learning to ride this fall was an incredible experience. I learned so much about myself and it has made me a more confident capable woman in all aspects of my life.

Learning to ride is all about the instructor, if they are passionate and it shows in their teaching it is a very powerful thing. My Novice instructors were amazing and they gave me the confidence and skills to be a proficient motorcyclist. They also allowed me to grow through making mistakes and building strong skills out of those mistkes. That little parkinglot was my world for 2 weekends and I lived to hear the encouraging words from my instructor. He believed in me and that belief made me successful.

I was very fortunate to have an excellent Traffic Safety instructor as well.. He took us into the real world and we followed him like little fledgling chicks. By the end of the first day we were driving down a short stretch of the Trans Canada Highwat at 90 kmh. Wow! By the end of the weekend we were all ready for our road tests. I will never forget after the last session of my course I came home and went for a ride with my husband and when we got home he told me how improved my riding was.

My instructors inspired me to be a life long motorcycle learner and safe motorcyclists who believes in good riding techniques and ATGATT. I whole heartedly recommend everyone considering a riding a motorcycle or scooter to take a recognised Novice and Traffic Safety riding course, it is the difference that will save your life and give you a solid foundation of skills. Who knows maybe one day I will become a motorcycle instructor.Thank you for sharing your passion and love of riding with us!

Kelly said...

I learned to ride in August 2011. I was apprehnsive, but not terrified. I took to it like a fish to water. We all had fun and supported each other and the instructors were fantastic and had a lot of experience. Yes I made mistakes, but was never criticized or laughed at, but encouraged the entire time. It wasn't that long ago that I learned, but I know that I will never lose that wonderful feeling of accomplishment that I have now, for something I never ever thought I would learn to do.