Monday, July 25, 2011

Top Gun Class - Day 1

This was the 5th MSF class I've taken in about the last 6 years or so. I've taken the BRC, the one day refresher BRC, ARC, and ERC. All of the previous courses followed a predictable MSF format - some amount of classroom time to learn about theory and watch some videos, then lots of range time. I am quite comfortable with this set up. I know what to expect and can fall right into the system ready to learn.

There were six of us in the top gun class - 5 guys and me. I was the only girl in the ERC last spring as well. And, one of the guys from the ERC class was also in this class. He said he remembered my bike from the last class. I think that was his PC way of saying he remembered me because my bike looks nothing like it did back then. Well, except for the Saints fleur de lis on the windscreen. Anyway, that was cool to see him following up on his training too.

Don Gunn was our instructor. He is a retired motorcycle cop and also a retired motorcycle cop instructor. He's not a large man. He sort of reminded me of my father-in-law in some ways. He had us introduce ourselves, say where we lived, where we were from, how long we'd been riding, what we did for a living (he wanted to know who the lawyers were), and why we were taking the class or what we hoped to learn. I said I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone. I decided to take the class because most of my riding experience had been commuting to work which I felt was lulling me into a sense of security. He liked that answer. :-) After we all went around with the introductions Don said, "Ok, that was your classroom part of the class. Lets pick a bike."

10 minutes in and we were on the bikes already?! This was already pushing me out of my comfort zone. But, I was ready to learn.

All of day one we rode the 250 Nighthawk training bikes. We wrote our names on the tape on the headlights so we'd always have the same bike. He had us get familiar with the friction zone for a few minutes asked us if we were ready and off we went. Our first exercise was a follow the leader ride. We followed Don all around the range. The cones were already set up for all of the exercises but for this ride, he just seemed to be riding around. We were supposed to do everything he did. If he pointed at something with one hand, we pointed at that same thing with the same hand. We rode around one handed, holding our left hands out. He rode up to a stack of cones, picked one up and placed it on the next pile. We did the same. We rode through a cone weave and even in a small circle following each other. We even did a figure eight. Then we parked.

From there he gave us a brief lecture about the friction zone, how to use your rear brake, clutch and throttle simultaneously to produce a desired result, some situational discussions, examples of the way we probably do things now and how he would teach us a different way of doing things. I was excited and ready for more.

After that, the rest of the day sort of went the same way. We'd walk over to the particular cone pattern we'd be working with. Either he or his son Brent (or was it Brett?) would demo the course. He'd talk us through it. And then he'd say ok and we'd do it. No matter how complicated the exercise looked, and they got progressively more complicated as the course went on, he'd always approach it as if it was the easiest thing in the world, explain it simply and set us to it. We'd look around at each other sort of in disbelief and then mount the bikes and get to it. By the end of the first day, I think I would have believed I could have done anything Don told me I could do. (That's a good teacher!)

I didn't get to take any photos of the class as it was quite intense. That was a bummer, especially for those of you reading this unillustrated tome, Sorry.

I think I'd describe day one as brimming with optimism. I didn't yet know that I couldn't do some of these things. And in fact, I was fairly successful working my way through all the exercises. We weren't graded or scored so it was all about yourself and the bike and learning the limits of both. We did some straight weaves, followed by staggered weaves, followed by even more staggered weaves. At the end of the weaving run were three pairs of cones that we also had to maneuver before heading back through the same weave. It was an out and back deal. That turned out to be harder than it looked but the cones were small so it wasn't as traumatic as things that came on day two.

The most amazing thing we did was a keyhole exercise. Here is a you tube video demonstrating the set up.  We first did this individually, in each direction. Then Don sent in two bikes at a time, then three, then four, and ultimately putting 7 bikes in at a time! I couldn't believe it! We had to travel very slowly inside the circle so that as the last bike was entering the first was exiting.

On this first day we did lots of weaves and u-turns and circles. It was a good day for me. I felt quite confident and excited for the second day. It was a hot day, too. I think I was a little overheated so was glad to find out that our day was ending at 2pm. At the end of the day we rode the bikes over to the shed so they could be put away for the afternoon. Don said on day two we'd practice a few more exercises and then if we wanted to, we could ride our own bikes on the range. He said it was up to us if we wanted to do that. He emphasized that learning the exercises so that we could go out and practice on our own was the point of the class. So, there was no pressure on us to get our bikes out there. That felt good but I was anxious to get on my own bike and try out my new skills. I resolved to do that as I fell asleep, dreaming of riding the Nighthawk through a cone marked range.

Taos, NM

I finally got the GS back on Saturday. They didn't find anything wrong with it. They kept it a full week and determined nothing was wrong because they couldn't find anything wrong. They did all sorts of tests and did find some computer issues but nothing that would have caused the stalling issue and nothing that would make it run poorly. So, they said, if it happens again to get as much data about the event as I could and bring it back. Sigh.

So, our planned road trip has been canceled and plan B is being put into action!

Yesterday, I asked my hubby what he wanted to do on our vacation. He said, "I want to ride!" I smiled and asked where he wanted to go. He said, "How about Taos?" I said, "That sounds good." We are a couple of few words. Then the planning began. We stopped at the public library to pick up a few books.
At this moment we are about done packing. I think we'll pack a few sandwiches and some frozen Gatorade for the road. We are planning to head south on highway 285 and skipping the super slab.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sad moto....

So, my moto stalled a couple of times recently. The second time there was some surging or something going on prior to the stall. So, that prompted me to take it to my trusty BMW mechanic. He ran a diagnostic test and found these error codes:
He said this will be warranty work. Unfortunately, he can't do the warranty work. He says I'll have to take it to the dealer because BMW makes it too difficult for him to get paid for warranty work. That made me sad. I like having my bike at his place. Oh well. So, I called Foothills BMW to make an appointment. It's there now. For some reason, they can't pull any codes because they said the computer isn't talking to the machine. They also said something about my bike's computers not talking to the bike. I sent them this image with the codes, on their request. They said they won't be able to tell me much until they can figure out what's up with the computers. And then they'll be able to start to figure out what's making the bike stall.

That was yesterday, when I dropped it off. I haven't heard anything more yet today. I'm getting impatient - I am impatient - and worried for our road trip. I told my hubby this must be payback for all the times I talked trash about his old bike and him always working on it. Sigh. Payback is a bitch.

I'm still working on my write up about the top gun class. My laptop is possessed and won't let me open any programs. I wanted to make some diagrams of the exercises we did. I may just have to post it all as a long text document. Sigh. When it rains, it pours I guess.

And, speaking of... my car is not happy either. The temperature gauge is heading towards high again, for no apparent reason.

My brother says I need a back up Honda Magna in the garage. I think he's right.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Weekend update...

Two days of police style motorcycle training is very very exhausting. I saw a quote on a Facebook friend's page that said "I'm not saying it's going to be easy, I'm saying it's going to be worth it." That was a running specific quote but it helped get me through the second day of this class. More to come soon. I promise.

July 27th marks our 4th wedding anniversary. Last year we traveled to Devils Tower and places nearby. We just sat down to have dinner and to plan this year's trip. It'll be a shorter trip as we have plans for the bookended weekends. So, we'll only be traveling Monday through Friday this time and thus, not as far. We'll be heading east this time and it may or may not involve a large ball of twine....


Friday, July 8, 2011

Police Style Motorcycle Training

I'm registered for this class. It's tomorrow and Sunday. I'm looking forward to being pushed outside of my comfort zone and learning new things. :-)

Civilian Top Gun Training

Sharpen your slow riding skills and you will greatly improve your overall skills.

This motorcycle riding course, as presented by former police motor officer/trainer Don “Top” Gunn, concentrates on the low-speed maneuvers taught to police officers for the purposes of increasing riding proficiency as well as confidence. Learn to operate a motorcycle at its limits, with emphasis on turning in the smallest area, use of transmission, clutch and brakes for the highest level of control, and practice maximum braking and brake-and-escape maneuvers. Smaller-sized training bikes are used the first day of this two-day course; students are encouraged to use their own (safe, street-legal) bike on the second day. This course is for experienced riders only.

I hope the weather holds. We've been having some pretty wicked thunderstorms this week.I got stuck waiting for one to pass at the end of the work day yesterday. Hubby drove out to meet me for dinner to help pass the time.

I'll report back on the training class in a few days after I process it all. :-)