Friday, August 27, 2010

Day 229 - Fun and Work

Fun and work; those two words don’t normally go together. Some of us are lucky enough to enjoy our jobs, bur most of the time we still don’t call our work fun. I was surprised this morning when our instructor wrote these words up on the white board. First he wrote the word Fun. We will have fun, he said. That’s what riding motorcycles is all about. Why else would you buy one and ride it if it wasn’t fun. But then he wrote to word work right under it. But in order to get to have even more fun, you are going to have to work. These next three days will be hard work, but they will be fun. Well, day one is in the books and so far he is absolutely right. It is fun, but it’s an awful lot of work.

We start at 8AM and finish at 6PM and we barely had 30 minutes for lunch. Today we spent all morning in the classroom. It was very enlightening. We talked about risk and risk management. We talked about how to maintain a margin of safety around you and many other thought provoking subjects including protective clothing and the proper type of helmets. Then we started learning about the primary and secondary controls of a motorcycle. I’ve never flown a helicopter, but I have heard that it is very different from flying an airplane because you use both hands and feet to do so many different things. When you fly an airplane, you use one hand for the throttles, one for the yoke (or controls) and both feet on the rudder and the brakes. Riding a motorcycle is vey similar. The right hand you use for the throttle and the front brake. You use the left hand for the clutch. The right foot is used for the rear brake and the left foot is used for shifting gears. So, today was primarily concerned with learning the functions of each and doing some coordination exercises.

Sounds easy, but using different muscle groups and coordinating al the parts is not easy. In fact it’s pretty tricky. At the same time we are on a little track where we don’t’ have very long straight runs. Anyway, I’m progressing, and as an instructor I know that I shouldn’t expect to be perfect on day one. However, I really need to see progress tomorrow. I’m sure that I will, because we are going to be outside on the range almost all day tomorrow. There should be review in the morning to reinforce what we have learned, then we will build on what we have learned. I know the drill; it’s a very similar approach to teaching someone to fly airplanes. The difference with a motorcycle is that you are part of the machine. Every move you make affects the way the machine moves.

By the end of the day today, I felt like I had been on a horse for 5 hours. I guess straddling that seat and using all these muscle groups that I haven’t used really took their toll. Then about five minutes ago, both of my legs started cramping up. So, I am eating a banana and drinking PowerAde as I continue to write. I think I will take some Advil when I finish this and get to bed early. I’m glad I don’t do the age thing. This course is not for someone who is old. One of the men today got too hot and almost passed out. After we cooled him off, he had to drop out. The instructors were afraid he might get worse if he stayed. I guess my running 5 miles in 90-degree weather three times a week helped prepare me for this course. I don’t feel comfortable on the bike yet, but I do feel more comfortable than I did when I started. I’m sure that when I finish the course I will definitely feel comfortable. If I do, I need to keep riding. I can see that I can’t take six months off and just pick up what I learned. Well, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

I was thinking about Julia this morning. We all had to go around the room saying something about ourselves. Different people were talking about their spouses and kids. The instructor happens to be a very smart man who was really riding this guy for wearing a Ga Bulldog shirt. So I just focused on my going to Tech and retiring from Delta. I was glad that I didn’t have to say anything else, and that no one asked me. I think Julia is OK with what I’m doing. I never pushed riding when we were married because she was afraid of motorcycles, but I bet if I had, she would have said “OK, but only if you take a training course.” So, I think she is smiling and saying that if I want to work that hard for something, go ahead. Anyway, over 90% of all the people in motorcycle accidents have never had any formal training. So, I am way ahead of the curve. Things will be good tomorrow. Hopefully it won’t be so hot though.

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