Motorcycle Skills Test practice

I’m pretty awesome at written tests. You don’t get two post secondary degrees without some skills in that department. But driving tests scare the crap out of me. ICBC Driver Testing and I started off badly with me failing my knowledge test for my learner’s license to drive a car when I was a mere 16 years and 2 months old. This former honour roll student was unaccustomed to failing anything. I wouldn’t admit to anyone but my parents’ (who had to drive me) that I took that test twice until 5 years later. Like most teenagers who are developing a sense of how things work and that it takes a bit of thought to go from point A to point B under your own direction, I had to do the driving test to get my Novice (“N”) twice. Everyone did that twice, except my brother. He has to work hard at many things -it was actually kind of a relief to see him outperform me on this one. Failing and trying again is how we develop skills. Skills that we get and then don’t really think about anymore. Having to work at things develops character and fortitude.

This is the attitude I am trying to apply to cone slalom exercises. I need to have this down before I take the Vespa over to the Burnaby testing centre. (In BC you need to pass this skills test in order to ditch your supervisor and really be able to start riding by yourself. It’s like having an “N” for a bike.) Riding around is fun and pretty easy. Everything got much better once I figured out that you can just press in the signal button unit to cancel your right or left signals. Yes, I had been meticulously switching it the other way to cancel the signal. I actually was really good at it until I realized how unnecessary it was. (This is why you need a supervisor!)

Cones were all cool the first two times I set them up in the nearby cul de sac. I zipped through and didn’t touch any of them. I felt ready to tackle the stupid MST that required me to load my scoot into the truck with man muscle help, drive over, unload, test, then reload, drive, and ultimately unload at home since I’m not nearly ready to ride over a bridge with trucks on it.

The test is:
-cone slalom (weaving cones places 1.5 bike lengths apart)
-quick stop
-3 point turn
-pushing your bike/scoot
-putting your bike/scoot on the stand

I was actually more worried about putting the scoot on the stand. My scoot has a side stand (which is apparently not super legal) and I had been using it because it doesn’t involve any muscle. The spot in the garage for the Vespa is also too tight to really get it on the centre stand and I even now fear trying would unleash some sort of cartoon rake in the face situation. (Seriously, I’m lucky to get the little garage space I have.)

The garage, nestled in between two ATVs and a shelf with drywall stilts.  Hazardous floor accessories abounding.

The garage, nestled in between two ATVs and a shelf with drywall stilts. Hazardous floor accessories abounding.

YouTube helped out by showing me about a dozen videos of big dudes putting tiny scooters on centre stands. (NOT!) I have girl arms, shoulder problems, and a 200cc vehicle. Sure, it’s easy…

Well, actually it is. I made my father do it the first few times to iron out the technique. (Aren’t Dads great?) We discovered, for example, that even he cannot get it to work on a downhill facing slope. The technique we worked out goes like so:

1) Position the scoot facing up any slope you are on. Flat is great but only football fields are flat in North Vancouver.
2) Place left hand on left handle. Keep brake on for now. Place right hand on grab bar on back of scoot. Noting the position of the brake activation pedal, keep your knees bent and your legs powerful with your right hip perpendicular to the scoot.
3) Release brake and let scoot roll gently backwards to generate momentum. (I actually have to let go of the brake entirely to grip the handle effectively, which is fine because I have a firm hand on the back of the bike.) Give a decisive step on the pedal and the bike will be on the stand.

I was worried about toppling the scoot away from me but the grip on the back is a powerful one because of how low it is. I never felt like it was falling over or getting out of control. It can take a few tries to get the momentum to work for you with your pedal push. The pedal is all about using your weight to your advantage and keeping a wide balanced stance. No arm muscles were harmed in the parking of this Vespa.

To take it off the stand, put your hands back in the aforementioned positions (left on the left handle, right on the back grab bar) and face the scoot with your body. Hold the brake on with your left hand and pull forward with your right. The front wheel will drop down to the ground and not roll away cause you put the brake on. So easy!

Cue delighted FB status that people only like because they are happy that you’re happy.

I’ve been sick all week with a horrible cold. Found out I was sick partly by practicing cones and running several of them over. Found out I am still not that well today by practicing cones, running several of the over, dropping the scoot, and being told by my bro that I should call it a day.

I’ve promised myself that I won’t do them again until I feel really good. Like excited for a job interview kind of confident. Trying to remember that I actually passed the motorcycle knowledge test on the first try despite getting a question about what a red light does wrong (ICBC makes bad multiple choice tests) and trying not to be so desperate to do this thing that I get into a bad headspace.

The licensing system is set up for motorcycles. The first 6 chapters of the book they give you are all about using your clutch. (Ummm… yeah, I can drive a straight line. I twist the handle thingy and it goes!) It’s a bit annoying that a 50cc scoot doesn’t need any of this rigamarole and can still be driven on the streets. But I wouldn’t be happy with a 50cc for long (or able to leave the North Shore!) so I persist in the rainy winter weather with my cones.

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