Thursday, July 2, 2015

Results of the Motorcycle Skills Test

Yesterday, as we went round and round the motorcycle training course, I thought, I really need one more day of this to solidify my skills.

And now, I will get that day.  I'm trying to see the events of yesterday in terms of getting more training with no extra charge, not as a failure.

There were moments yesterday where everything went well, and I could see why people love riding a motorcycle.  There were many more moments of frustration and times when I couldn't remember why I thought this class would be a good way to spend my valuable vacation time.

I do think it was easier to learn during a class than to try to learn on my own.  I am amazed at what I was able to learn after just 2 mornings on a motorcycle.

Unfortunately, it was not enough to pass the skills test on the bike.  The written test I passed with flying colors.  I'd have been really spooked if I couldn't do that.

Fortunately, I get another session of training and another chance to pass the test.  The trick will be finding a good time to do that, and soon, before I forget what I've learned.  I'll call later today to schedule it.

We had a practice time just before the test.  We worked on our own, with no input from the instructor.  I did most of the activities almost perfectly.

What went wrong during the test?  Partly, I overthought things too much.  It's a habit of mine that I recognize.  If I could just get out of my own head, I'd get out of my own way more often.

I have no problem recognizing these thought patterns, but I have not yet learned how to banish them.  Sigh.

I was also a bit spooked because we had had a morning of spectacular crashes--all unintentional.  Happily, no students were hurt, but it left me unsettled.

Then, during the test, I thought the instructor motioned me to demonstrate a fast stop.  It's a small course, and it was hard for me to get up to speed, then apply brakes and shift to first.  I did, and perfectly.  Unfortunately, the instructor wasn't actually ready for me.  So I had to do it over again, and I goofed.  I shifted up to 3rd instead of second, and downshifted to second, not first.  Why didn't the bike stall?  I don't know, but probably because I was so desperate to build up speed and so wanting to do it correctly.

If that had been the only mistake, it wouldn't have been enough to sink me, but it wasn't.  I got progressively more flustered--again, my head getting in my way.  And my physical state didn't help either.

The test was held at the end of a long, hot morning of training.  My hands ached from squeezing the clutch and the break.  My feet ached.  My body burned from the blazing heat.  I tried to stay hydrated and sunscreened, but I suspect that my physical state led to diminishing returns which led me to not passing the skills section.

My instructor said that even if I had passed the skills test, she'd have begged me to come for one more training session.  I'm just not ready.

She's right. 

I will come back and get more training and hopefully pass the test.  Then I will keep practicing on less-traveled roads.  I can't imagine how I will get up to the level where I will feel good about getting out in real traffic with lots of vehicles.

Perhaps I won't.  But at least if something happens to my spouse while we're out on the same bike, like if he breaks an ankle or a wrist and we can't get a cell phone signal to summon help, I could get us back home.  That was one of my goals.

As I was struggling, I thought of all the students through the years, mine and those who are taking classes with faculty in my department, students who fail for all sorts of reasons.  I thought of their frustration and wondered if karma is catching up with me.

But of course, that's not the reason why I had trouble.  And it's not the reason why our students have trouble.  Some subject matter is just hard and doesn't come to us in the time period that we had scheduled for it.  That's not easy to hear.  It wasn't easy for me to hear yesterday.  It's good to be reminded of how it feels to be on the receiving end of that info.  It's an empathy-creating experience.

I will shake off these feelings of inadequacy and failure.  I tried my best.  I'm not where I need to be.  I can get there. 

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