Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Caught in Hyde Park

A sweet Honda CD 175, kick start, shiny chrome tank
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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Experienced Rider Course and broken plastic

Neil and I attended the Experience Rider Course that was held at Triton Community College Sunday. The broken plastic happened elsewhere. After teaching many 8-3 Saturday MC classes, midway during the morning I realized that we were going to be in the classroom until lunch and then ride for the afternoon. The ERC course is run from 8-6 with an hour lunch. We received a handbook for the course but it was not referred to during the classroom at all. The classroom used some older "RSS" curriculum videos. A pristine GMC Pacer gave the decade away. Browsing the handbook, I had hoped that we would have covered some of the "situations and solutions" particularly for Neil. Since that was not the case, I think that Neil and I will go through the handbook together.

I treated Neil to Subway (big spender that I am) for our 1 hour lunch break. We were back first and lined our bikes on the very familiar "T's" that are used in the basic classes. Of course the instructors moved us once they arrived back from lunch as they are not used in the ERC at all. I lost count of the total number of exercises that we did. Some were short link purposefully locking our rear tire for a stop. I didn't particularly enjoy the feeling of my rear tire skidding and coming out of line. Cornering exercises were as enjoyable as they could have been. TCC has the MC program use a terribly cracked and bumpy parking lot. So during the corning, leaning the bike over, having to negotiate dips and loose gravel didn't give me the confidence to lean the bike over as much. 18 year old Neil on the other hand is another story. He was at the edge of his tires limits and dragging pegs on that Ninja 250 like it was nothing. I was rather proud of his riding during the class and the instructors commented on how good his performance was during the exercises. That being said, our 40 mile ride home in traffic on the Chicago Expressways reminded me that I need to work with him on how to better position himself in traffic. I am not as concerned with his skill of handling the MC, but how he positions himself in traffic and his lack of maintaining a modest space cushion.

I did find myself wanting to performing the exercises more often next to one of the two instructors. He was the one who constantly offered suggestions for improvement. I am a sucker for that stuff. Like in all other settings, I thirst for feedback (and approval) and want to "make the coach" happy. I am extremely competitive, especially with myself. The other instructor simply let us ride the excercises with very little feedback. I noticed that Neil went to the one offering the feedback as well.

The majority of the riders had 1-3 years of riding experience. There was a Harley, two SV650's, another smaller but exceptionally painted cruiser, two M109's, Neil' 250, and my Connie.

As Neil and I pulled into our driveway at the end of the day, I had to park behind our of our cars because there was not enough space to get my Connie to the garage door. Neil ran an errand in the car and made it safely around my bike. He came home for a few minutes that wanted to go out again. I was on the computer and jumped up as I heard a loud noise. Yep, he forgot the Connie was there and backed right into it. We I got out my heart sank seeing the bike on it's side. After getting it upright (not the lightest bike in the world with a 7 1/2 gallon full tank), my heart sank further. The front fender was broke in half, the right mirror is crushed, and there are scratches on the main fairing from the bumper of the car. The rear tip over bars saved the rear end from any damage and I am made that I hadn't put on the front tip over bars (crash bars) as I had planned to before the ERC. I will ride it over to the shop and place the order for the replacement fender and mirror. They will have to do the fender and the wheel has to be removed and rivets drilled out of the fork brake that the fender is attached to. I may or may not have them replace the mirror.

Neil will be paying for the greater portion of the repair. However, I am also feeling bad having him spend his money that he has earned working with the MC program. Having the Connie with a few scars and needing some repairs doesn't make me happy either. It's only cosmetic, and it will be okay. It didn't impact anything necessary to ride.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Time to trade roles

Sunday, I become a student instead of the instructor. Neil and I are registered for the Experienced Rider Course. The weather forecast looks great with partly sunny and a high of 79 degrees, which is not the norm for the end of July. It should be in the 90's. I will let you now what both Neil and I learn from the class. I followed him home from Joliet on I-80 for 30 miles. He scared me a few times with some poor lane positioning and passing too close to vehicles he passed. We talked about highway driving when we got home. Hearing it from other instructors will be a good thing.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Harper College in Palatine

Yesterday I enjoyed a work day outside of Hyde Park. I attended a Web Accessibility Workshop that was held at William Rainey Harper College located in Palatine, Illinois. Besides attending the an informative workshop, attending allowed me to put 122 miles on the Connie.
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Monday, July 6, 2009

Mistake with good consequences

As a commuter train rider, I purchase a monthly pass to ride the train ($102 a month). When my stepson goes downtown, he asks to use the pass. No problem and he has been quite reliable. Well he used the pass to go downtown on the 3rd for fireworks. Neil couldn't find it when he got home. There is also 4 weeks of work left. Not to relieve him from responsibilities, he will have to cover my transportation costs for the month. It will only be 3 weeks worth as I am taking a week off to teach a daytime MC class. So to minimize the cost to him, I will brave the traffic and ride the Connie to work as many days as possible. In the end it will be cheaper and more fun. I will also get to work and home a bit quicker as well. Riding to work takes around 30-40 minutes and home is 40-50. The total commute via train is 10 minutes for bicycle, 10 minutes waiting on train, 22 minute plush commuter train ride, 15 minute walk to work.