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Archive for July, 2010

July 28, 2010

What d’ya wanna see Huggy do?

Hey Everyone!

You may recall that last season on A Motorcycle Experience, host David Hatch made a side bet with Yamaha “Scooter Sense” host, Bryan Hudgin.

Dave bet Bryan that he couldn’t ride his Yamaha BWS125 scooter from Montreal to Toronto – with stops in Ottawa and Kingston along the way – using only a $25.00 gas card, tent and sleeping bag for the 3-day trek. Well Bryan not only accepted the challenge but he also completed the journey in record time with gas money to spare. Bryan wisely used “Scooter Sense” t-shirts to barter for food and lodging was provided by the great outdoors. He was able to camp out on viewer Bruce Haskin’s lawn on the first night while sneaking into a provincial park for the second!

In the end, Dave lost the bet and was forced to wear a Yamaha motocross jersey for 7 days straight. Dave has nothing against Yamaha off-road apparel, but he certainly did stand out at a good friend’s wedding!

So, as the fall riding season approaches, Dave and Bryan are at it again. Dave wants Bryan to push the envelope and take on another challenge. Will it be a “Northern Lights” ride from Toronto to James Bay? A “Rocky Mountain High” cruise from Vancouver to Calgary? A “Maritime Mayhem” tour of the East Coast?

Neither man can decide. Instead they are throwing the challenge out to the loyal Motorcycle Experience TV audience….putting you in the saddle! Do YOU have a great idea for his challenge? We’d like to hear it. Post it here on the Yamaha motorcycle blog under the “Leave a Comment” section! Perhaps you’d like to invite Bryan and the Motorcycle Experience crew to explore your home town or favourite local back roads? It’s completely up to you. Just remember, Bryan must remain safe while executing the challenge. Beyond that, the sky’s the limit!

Please send us your suggestions by August 15th. Dave and Bryan will weigh the pros and cons of each submission and decide upon a winner – then they‘ll shake hands and it will be game on!

Stay tuned to the Yamaha motorcycle blog at http://motorcycles.yamahablogs.ca for updates on when and where the challenge will take place. Bryan will also be updating to the blog and Yamaha Facebook page as the challenge plays out. Finally, you can watch the tour in it’s entirety on TSN’s A Motorcycle Experience in the spring of 2011.

Don’t delay! Get your submissions in before August 15th! We may choose yours!

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Posted @ 4:20 pm in Authors,Commuting,Scooters,Travel Stories   
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July 12, 2010

Part 3 of 3: Know it all

(Read Part 1 and 2)….. Day two was much more interesting. No more pushing and pretending to make engine noises (although I think that’s pretty fun). We had throttles cranked from 9 to 4 with only a few breaks for water and lunch. I think I even suffered arm pump at one point! By the end of it, almost everyone had greatly improved their skills and confidence; they could accelerate smoothly, brake BEFORE the pylons and switch gears.

I was proud of my fellow classmates and looked forward to seeing many of them on the outside … but what about me? I may have appeared poised on the outside, but my guts were still churning. It would all come down to the Final Test. Could I overcome the pressure?? Or would I find myself in the same situation as the DriveTest centre, pleading with the evaluator in a last ditch effort to salvage some dignity? Only the motorcycle gods knew my fate.

To much delight, our final practice drills would also be used (with slight tweaks) for our evaluation. The instructors assured us nothing would be new; we wouldn’t be surprised with a wheelie contest or ring of fire. We just had to keep our heads up, eyes forward and stay within the lines. Like lambs going to slaughter, Michael Michael Motorcycle had us line up one by one behind the first test marker.

I was positioned in the middle and had the opportunity to watch others endure each test first. It felt as though I was watching American Idol; I was glued to those who couldn’t carry a tune, or in this case, carry second gear. I kept my eyes on this one guy who was fumbling around like a wounded duck. He was popping the clutch, mis-shifting and skidding to a stop. It was time to end this poor sap’s misery and put him out to pasture.

“Okay, Daniel, you’re turn!” barked Michael. Mind you these are extremely simple tasks, especially if you have any riding history, but at this point in time, it was like climbing a mountain. I needed everything I had. I don’t really recall the next 20 minutes of my life. I was so focused and determined to beat Michael Michael Motorcycle, the ministry and this damn test that I shut off my brain and just rode.

“Congratulations, you’ve passed,” she said.

“What? I passed?!” I replied.

“You did.”

I couldn’t believe it. I did it. As I let out a huge sigh of relief, it felt as though my motorcycle manhood had been reborn. I thanked the motorcycle gods, and vowed I would no longer be so boisterous of my abilities. Oh and Tab passed too….

So, did I learn anything? You know what, I did. I learned that riding a motorcycle is complicated. Not that I ever thought it was easy—and often I’m forced to defend the difficulty of racing motocross—but I’ve been riding bikes for 24 years and didn’t realize how much of it has become automatic. Like when you see a $20 bill floating across the sidewalk; you don’t ask who it belongs to, you pick it up, stuff it in your wallet, and run.

From now on I promise not to be so critical of those who don’t evolve as quickly as others. I’ve also learned to keep my head up. I’ve developed a bad habit of looking right in front of me, rather than being aware of potential dangers further ahead. That’s probably why I sometimes end up hitting the wrong lines on the track—you gotta look where you want to go! Plus, no matter how skilled you are at something, it never hurts to take a refresher. Just because you’ve been doing something forever, doesn’t mean you’re doing it right.

Now I know it all … right?

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Posted @ 10:51 am in Commuting   
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July 5, 2010

Part 2 of 3: I know it all

…. (If you missed part 1, click here). A week or so later we signed up for an M1 exit course at SSF. I figured it would be a good opportunity for Tab to improve her skills and it would help lower our insurance rates. As I mentioned above, I’ve tried sharing some riding tips with Tab, but that was met with less than stellar results—especially after not passing my M1 the first time around.

“What do you mean it’s easy?!? You’ve been riding all your life… I haven’t, so back off!”

Sorry, babe. It was in Tab, and my own, best interest to let somebody else offer direction.

(Notice how I didn’t say that I need to learn anything?)

Due to my struggles with the M1 test, I was nervous leading up to the course. Regardless of my riding ability, I couldn’t help but think I would mess up or forget how to ride. Yamaha’s event coordinators, Andre Harris and Aaron Dowden, assured me I would be fine. Andre works with the Humber College program and tried helping me relax by sketching out the course drills. Tab was nervous too. So here I am telling her she’ll be fine, meanwhile, inside, I’m more nervous than a 14-year-old in a game of spin-the-bottle. I know once that bottle turns to me, I’ll puke and start crying.

Unlike the supposed “quick and easy” M1 test, the M1 Exit course would be drawn out over an entire weekend. It begins with a 3-hour classroom session followed by two solid days of practicing drills in a parking lot, culminating in one final, winner-takes-all, evaluation. Thankfully, if you are unsuccessful, you’re eligible for a second try on a later date. I kept telling myself to stay focused, I wouldn’t need a second try, but I still couldn’t shake my prior failure … “you’re gonna fail again…” “you don’t know how to ride…” “don’t screw this up!!” it continued to haunt me.

The classroom portion went okay. It felt kind of cool to be back in school, because this time around, there weren’t any muscle bound jocks waiting to steal my lunch money or wedgie me against the lockers. I even sat in the back of the class and doodled pics of the teacher like I used to. I thought that they were pretty good, but Tab thought that it was “immature.” And like high school, there were a few characters for me to pick on, like the older fellow who thought he was the teacher, sharing his opinion every chance he got and making sure everyone knew he owned a Katana. Wait a tick, wasn’t I the fool who failed his M1??

In came our chief instructor, “Michael Michael Motorcycle.” He tried gaining our confidence with his lively, outgoing personality and compassion towards those who had limited to no riding experience. He reminded us that as long as we listened and did what they asked, we’d be fine. I was on to Michael though; he didn’t care if we passed; he wanted our money, and he especially wanted to fail some cocky so-called “pro” like myself.

There were 15 students in our class, and only 3 or 4 of us had any riding experience. I was relieved he didn’t ask about our riding backgrounds; that would only give him and the others more ammunition when I failed. I was actually quite surprised to hear some had already purchased bikes, yet didn’t know the clutch from the brake. Talk about putting the horse before the cart! Nonetheless, I was glad to see new people joining the fold. For those who hadn’t purchased a bike, I was sure to mention Yamaha makes the best bikes and has the best deals. (What? A guy’s got to put food on the table!)

Day one started slow but progressed quickly. The session began with everyone gearing up and choosing a bike that best suit their size and ability. There were all types of bikes to choose from, TW200s, DR200s, KLX140s, Sherpas, and these little shoebox Hondas called Titan 150s. Tab and I went with the KLX140 (I would have chose a Yamaha but they weren’t available!).

Sadly, we didn’t get to fire up the bikes until lunch. Before letting the rockets loose, students learn to balance, control and turn a bike without the engine started. It felt strange being pushed and pushing people all over a parking lot, but it was a smart, safe way to ensure some control before changing gears. I wish I had thought of that before letting friends try out my dirt bikes, it would have saved me a lot of levers and handlebars. Once everyone was comfortable, we progressed to the clutch or as one of the instructors, Wild Bill, calls it, “the boss of the motorcycle.”

Most of what was being taught was quite mundane to me, but honestly, I’m impressed with the logic behind their madness. I was amazed to see how quickly most inexperienced riders picked things up. For some of us veterans, we take for granted how much skill is really involved in riding motorcycles.

Put yourself into the shoes of a grown man or woman and imagine never having turned a throttle, let alone using the clutch, changing gears and then coordinating them together. There’s an art to it, for sure, but the instructors somehow transform a Picasso into paint-by-numbers. As is the case with most things though, there were a few stragglers still going outside, over and around the lines.

I started thinking that maybe Michael Michael Motorcycle and his posse weren’t such bad people, maybe they did want us to pass. That wishful thinking quickly faded as he slapped the back of my helmet, and screamed at me to keep my eyes forward and fingers off the clutch. “This ain’t no motor-cross track!” he added. Well, that might not be exactly what he did or say, but it didn’t matter, I knew his objective…

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Posted @ 9:55 am in Commuting   
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