Showing posts with label motorbike training. Show all posts
Showing posts with label motorbike training. Show all posts

Saturday, 15 February 2014

training ignorance & fear out of your bikecraft

I've been trying to find a comparison about the relative dangers of motorcycling that didn't devolve into anecdote and hyperbole, I couldn't find one on the internet (the home of anecdote and hyperbole).  After reading all sorts of people who knew someone who died on a motorbike, or were hit by a car 'that came out of nowhere' (cars don't come out of nowhere, they're very big and weigh thousands of pounds), I'm left shaking my head.

I know a guy who died on a motorcycle.  He was late for work and ran a red light at over 100km/hr and ended up going over the hood of a nice, old couple's car who were turning left into the lane in front of him.  Along with a pile of other people I ran across our work parking lot and got there just in time to see him die.  Not to speak ill of the dead but this guy was a yahoo, and his accident was all about his idiocy and had virtually nothing to do with his motorcycling.  Had he run the same light in a Mustang he would have ended up killing three people, two of them completely innocent, as it was he traumatized them. 

Online you'll find many anecdotes about how dangerous it is 'out there'.  There was the guy who went on at length about how a muffler fell off the car in front of him and he couldn't avoid it; he hasn't been back on a bike since.  I suppose that muffler came out of nowhere too.  I wonder how close behind the car buddy was when that muffler took him off his bike.

In many cases those ex-bikers say that training doesn't help, the only thing that does help is a cage of your own.  A life lived in fear is a life half lived, and there are a lot of people hiding in cages living half lives on the interwebs.  The emotionality and ignorance on display is distressing.  How can you do a thing well when your stories clearly demonstrate ignorance around how to operate a motorbike effectively?  I wonder if any of the people who knew that yahoo I worked with are the ones now saying how dangerous motorcycling is.

Extreme defensive driving, if you're not thinking about
all of this approaching an intersection,
you're not doing it right
Having taken some training I plan on taking much more because it really does help.  If you're serious about your bikecraft you will continue to seek out ways to improve, otherwise you aren't taking the task seriously.  Training isn't just about how to make a bike go, it's also some of the most intensive defensive driver training you'll ever experience, and I've done a lot of advanced driver training.  

Anyone who wants to pin the dangers of motorbiking on everyone else on the road feels helpless, training goes some way to mitigate that, though afterward you're never able to say, "it came out of nowhere!" or, "it wasn't my fault!"  When you finally get to the bottom of the extreme defensive mindset you need on a bike everything is your responsibility, including responding to the poor driving of other people.  If you're not willing or able to shoulder that responsibility you shouldn't be on a bike.

In addition to the dismissive attitude toward training, the other theme that develops as you read the anecdotal former rider or friend of a dead friend online is the anger.  People who have have a hate on for riding and are now evangelizing against it were angry when they rode, frequently telling stories of how they were shouting at four wheeled offenders, incredibly upset by being run off the road, angry at how poorly everyone else uses the road.  They've never shaken this anger, it's a part of who they are and they still spout it online.  You have to wonder how blind that anger made them when they rode.

Another benefit of training and then advanced training is that rather than approach a situation with an emotive response, you tend to be clinical.  Anyone who has taken martial arts understands how this works.  The untrained fight in ignorance, throwing haymakers and making a wondrous mess of it all.  They typically attempt to overcome their ignorance and inexperience by fighting emotionally.  A true student of anything is clinical because they approach their craft with an eye to constant improvement.  They don't thrash around in anger, they analyze and improve.  An emotional mindset seldom leads to skills improvement.

The angry biker is a dilettante, someone posing, looking for social status with no interest in improving their bikecraft.  You can't learn if you're angry.

When riding a motorcycle in an angry, blaming way you are attempting to cover your ignorance with loud emotionality.  Don't be ignorant and upset, become skilled and clinical, and always have an eye toward improving your craft.  Riding a motorcycle well is a deeply immersive experience, you're doing a difficult, dangerous thing, and doing it well should be a great source of pride.  When you're lost in your bikecraft you are attentive, meditative, alert and alive in the truest sense of the word.  I don't imagine any of the naysayers on the internet care, but this is an important place to find yourself.

Copyright All rights reserved by JamesAddis

Interweb hyperbole...

Friday, 29 March 2013

n00b at 43

Tim's Motorcycle Diaries

I've always wanted a motorcycle.  The simplicity and immediacy of the relationship between rider and bike has always appealed.  Finally, at the age of 43, I'm becoming a rider.  A couple of weeks ago I sat in an MTO drivetest centre and wrote my M1, so I'm now licensed in the most rudimentary way.  Next weekend I'm taking my training course at Conestoga College in Kitchener. Following that I hope to be on the road.

This blog will trace the process and development of my riding.  I've dug up a couple of entries from another blog that show why I've gotten into riding now.  They should provide some background for what is about to happen next.

A Nice, Canadian Magazine to get you into the hobby...

In the meantime, I've been looking through motorcycling magazines trying to find one that fits.  I'm not a Canadian publications at all costs kind of guy, but Cycle Canada offers smart writing on a wide range of subjects related to the sport (hobby?).  Being a rider in Canada is sort of like being a surfer in Greenland, you can do it, but you've really got to want to.  The place itself isn't really conducive to the activity.  I feel like Cycle Canada approaches this with honesty, humour and wit, while peeling off many of the preconceptions around biking.  Before I began reading it I thought most people think Harleys are the be all and end all of motorbiking.  I was glad to learn that they aren't.  I like 'em so much, I just subscribed.

Getting Your Bike License in Ontario

Getting the M1 was easy enough.  Ontario has a graduated licensing system for becoming a motorcycle rider now.  The M1 is a sit down, multiple choice test on the basics of motorcycle operation (which you pick up from a Motorcycle Handbook you can get for about $17 from any MTO licensing office).  There are also multiple choice tests on road signs and basic driving situations.  There are 20 questions in each set and you can get up to four wrong and still pass (so you need an 80% on each piece).  I've had my G class (regular car) license for 26 years, I didn't study for either of the general quizzes and got only 2 wrong.  If you pay attention to your driving, I'd suggest focusing on the motorcycling handbook.  If you have no idea what is happening around you or what signs mean, it might be time to review the general stuff.

I should add, the general driving portion was very wordy.  Remember those long math word problems you used to get in school?  Like that.  It was almost like it was designed to test your ability to parse complicated text more than it was about rules of the road.  Be ready for that and take your time with it.

You have to go to a drivetest centre to write the M1.  There are many scattered around Ontario but only a few open on weekends.  It took me a couple of hours to get to the counter, write the test and then get the results.  They tell me it isn't always that busy.  The old guy who blocked the only open gate for an hour arguing about his license didn't help.  The M1 costs you about $17 to write.

After the M1 written piece, the idea is to go out and get experience.  You have 60-90 days with your M1 before you have to move on to M2.  M2 you can have for up to 5 years, but if you let it lapse after that you've got to start over again.  After your M2 road test you become an M licensed driver with full privileges.  Conestoga College offers a driver training course for beginners that moves you from M1 to M2.  I'm signed up to go next week.  It costs about $400 and I'm told you're at the bikes they provide a lot over the one night and two day long course; it's very hands on.  At the end of that course I'll have done what is needed to pass the M1 driving test to move on to M2.  M1 means no driving at night, or carrying passengers, or 400 series highways, and no alcohol in your system at all.  M2 is still no alcohol, but you can do the other things.  You usually have to wait 60 days to get your M2, but if you take the course they shrink that time.  I should be able to push up to an M2 in mid-May after taking the course in early April.  I plan on riding at the M2 level for at least a year or two before getting the full M license.


I called the company that I've been with since I was a teen (who has made a small fortune off me) and asked for a quote on motocycles.  They told me to come back in two years.  They then said I should call Riders Plus.  They were very helpful.  Talking to a friend afterward, he's been riding for thirteen years and has been with Rider's Plus the whole time.  He's paying about $600 a year for a 2000 500cc Ninja.  I'll be paying about $1300 a year for a 2007 650 Ninja, to give you an idea of what the insurance looks like.

I'll throw on a couple of older posts showing what I've been reading and why I'm going through this now.  Over the next few days it looks like I'll become the proud new owner of a 2007 650r Ninja that has been painted an unfortunate flat black by an adolescent male of questionable taste..  With the bike in the garage and the course next weekend, I should be insured, plated and on the road by mid-April.

More to come as it happens.