Sunday, May 15, 2016

Ripping up the tarmac in the Greater Victoria Motorcycle Skills Challenge

Saturday, May 14th, 3 local police agencies united to run a motorcycle skills challenge clinic. 

The CRD Integrated Road Safety Unit (IRSU) which is comprised of members of the RCMP, Victoria Police and Saanich Police put this event on in conjuction with ICBC who sponsored a $1000 gear giveaway.  My riding school Vancouver Island Safety Council also participated as we offer courses to strengthen riders skills at every stage of their skill development; novice riding classes, traffic skills classes, right up to experienced riders courses.  

This event was about riding community engagement, studies have been released that show over time riders skills can deteriorate primarily through lack of practice and not taking skill upgrading courses.  Striking statistics in a study of male riders ages 49 to 70 have shown higher rates of crashes in riders in this age group. Most of this is due to lapses in riding with people taking long breaks from riding and thinking the skills they learned 20 years ago will still be there and as reflexive, which generally is not the case. People overestimate what their skill level is particularly if they are seasonal riders.  Even the most seasoned well practiced riders routinely work at honing their skills. Friends of mine who are police riders regularly practice skill handling and practice at the start of their shifts.  Its the simple things that we lose; good strong shoulder checking, scanning gets lazy, sightlines deteriorate and basic handling such as slow speed skills and steering in emergency situations with quick stops all suffer over time. One of the most important things is situational awareness, people don't scan far enough ahead and aren't anticipating hazards in their riding environment or being ready to take action. Another is lane dominance, it drives me absolutely nuts when I see riders giving up their lane dominance by riding in the wrong lane position. Owning your lane through lane dominance does two things it discourages other vehicles from sharing your space and it increases your visibilty to other drivers both around you and coming towards you. Conspicuity in traffic is the 'art of being seen' and this is acheived through lane dominance and wearing higher visibility clothing.  Most drivers when they collide with a bike say "I didn't see them", it makes sense to increase your visibility by asserting lane dominance and wearing hi viz clothing or a traffic vest. Riders have a huge part to play in their safety by making sure they are anticipating hazards in their evirinment by using good SIPDE hazard detection skills (Scan Identify Predict Decide Execute).  

Now that we've talked a little about the reasons for the event lets take a look at some pics of the artistry of riding.  I saw some pretty hella amazing skills on Saturday. Quite a few of the riders who attended benefitted from the coaching provided by the IRSU members and VISC instructors involved.

RCMP and Saanich PD members playing follow the leader. This my friends is amazing riding! Sightlines, space management, and lots of practice.  Practice makes better! Don't think that the pro's are immune to bike drops, they aren't and there were a few tip overs, but it is the continued practice that allows them to ride like this.

Check out those sightlines! 

This is my instructor colleague Jeff, he has the most incredibley fierce riding skills.  He makes it look effortless, he is killing the course.  His youtube channel is MrMadbiker1 check out his videos.  Check out the link. 

This gentleman showed up on his vintage Indian with a side shifter and foot clutch.  You should have seen him taking this bike through the cones.  Gorgeous bike!

My iphone does not do this bike justice!

It was a great day! Everyone took away positive skill building techniques myself included.  

I was a little tentative at first, most think I am extremely outgoing and extroverted, but in reality I am an introverted extrovert - I know that is a confusing statement, but in some respects I am shy and get the jitters and a wee bit of performance anxiety.  I wasn't too keen on trying the course, but then decided to suck it up and give  it a try.  I got some coaching from an IRSU member and one of my instructor colleagues and eventually was whipping off figure 8's in a tight circle like it was a smooth as butter. With a bit of coaching my figure 8's where getting tighter and tighter and easier to do. My instructor boss was coaching me and he had me stop and then he kicked the cones in about a foot making the circle even smaller, at first I thought "Eek!", but then realized it was no biggie.  

I have had the Duchess for a year now and this was truly the first time in that time period where I have pushed her and myself. I also have greater confidence in the Duchess now that we have installed lowering links, its changed her handling for the better for me and I am glad I made this decision and very happy that my hub did the research and the mechanical work. 

After this my sightlines and handling improved and I was flicking my 500 pound Honda through the slalom and the back to back uturn maze confidently.  Again the key was getting my head turned further  and better sightlines.

I could have spun circles and 8s all day! Was I ever having fun! 

This was crazy! It was a series of 3 turns, it showed me that I really needed to get my head turned & eyes up and looking through to the next turn and end gate.  Imagine that what a novel idea of looking where you want to go!

I eventually went and tried the harder layout and loved the gate slalom, I did get a wee bit lost on where to go because it was at the very end of the day, but it was fun just the same. I was so glad I was a part of this event because I learned stuff and had improvement in my skills, I also realize I need to continue my skill building process. The bonus from today is I have a better understanding of my bike's handling and was flicking 500 pounds around like it was nothing and that made me hear the moto angels singing and I was in cone nirvana and yes practice does make better.

 Now If only I could find more cones....guess what I want for my birthday next month - traffic cones!