Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bloody Orange Cones.....

Well, Phillip was good enough to organise another observed ride for me on Monday night.  Simon my appointed mentor has been pretty busy with the Rugby World Cup (God I hope the All blacks win!) and the Pacific Island Forum  (more political drum beating) .  So I was most grateful to have the opportunity to ride with Phillip again. The fact that this man gives up his time into  training me cannot be under estimated, and I am very very grateful.

The weather forecast was for rain and thunderstorms, thankfully we only got a bit of rain, although the route we took through the Waitakere ranges ensured the road was wet!

But First............

I arranged to meet Phillip where he does his other training courses.  This is a car park behind a gym and while we were there he decided it would be a good opportunity to try some slow speed manoeuvring exercises.  Now this could be interesting.  Although my slow speed skills have improved a great deal, throwing the 220kg sprint around a 15 foot wide turn with lots of little orange cones,   was perhaps a little optimistic on Phil's behalf.  Of course never one to turn down a challenge  I thought bugger it lets give this a go............and I did...again (fail)....and again(fail)....and again(fail)....and again(fail)....and again(fail).....and again(fail)....and again(fail)......shit this is hard!  So Mr McDaid...aka Phil steps in.   So I then get to watch this little man..and yes he is not a big fella, throw this Honda ST, all 300kgs of it through this obstacle course as if it is a  GN125!  Shit, feeling a bit like a plonker now.

OK Phil so you proved a point, now let me have a go on one of those little 125's you have on the back of the trailer there?  Whoop.......I am away.  At least I nailed it, perhaps not the first time, but I did eventually  get this bloody little bike around two fingers of this orange cone obstacle course.   In case you haven't noticed I am beginning to get an aversion to "road cones"!!!!!!!  Of course I did try my best to destroy as many as possiable but the little bastards pop back into shape.....no matter how many times you run over them.

With my helmet sufficiently soaked with sweat and my hands sticking to the inside of my winter gloves, we ended the obstacle courses challenge and set out on a ride.  Enjoying Auckland's peak hour traffic and intermittent rain.

The route took us through Scenic drive in the Waitake rangers, a very picturesque part of suburban Auckland, and from a bikers point of view a great road.  Certainly a challenging road.  Full of speed zone changes, hidden driveways, 25km bends and anything else you may want to through into the mix.

Once stopped the feed back begun.  So the negatives were.  Missed a couple of shoulder checks when the lanes went from two to one.  I did check my mirrors  but as Phillip pointed out it is easy for a car to enter theses roads from a driveway and the mirror check is just not adequate.  Was a bit lapsed on my indicating on a couple of round abouts.  And was not chasing my vanishing point as well as I should when exiting corners.  This is an area that I am aware is a weakness in my riding. 

So now the positives.  It is clearly obvious in my riding that I am applying the skills that are associated with Advanced riding.  I am using the full road , altering my position when I need to, watching my following distances and making a degree of smooth progress in most cases.  It comes down to a lot of fine tuning and working on the little things that need work.  The big thing for me is that I have improved from my previous observed ride.  It is there, I just need to continually reinforce the small stuff.


  1. Can you slap me from there? I mean...if I said that you should be grateful for all their help...because you need it? ;)

    I know what you mean about the cones. I know that I performed figure eight turns on my bike in 10 foot areas when I took my Advanced course. I sure couldn't execute them this past weekend in two lanes... :( More practice. Like you, don't want to drop my bike.

    Thanks for outlining the issues they are looking for on the observed rides. Gives us something to think about during our outings.

  2. LOL I remember riding the "cone hell" years ago...not a bad idea to sharpen-up the skills & re-do this kind of training again, every few years!

    Tina BMW

  3. Roger:
    Quiet snigger from Coromandel, mainly in relief through having avoided any cone exercises :-). Excellently written my friend - I was mentally there with you, sweaty back, sweaty gloves 'n all! You, Bob and me will have to get out again to practice.

    All for a great cause though and look forward to meeting up in a couple of weeks.

  4. Me thinks I need to find some cones and a parking lot. It has been way too many years since I took my course and while I seem to do great at slow speeds I'm not sure that would carry over to a cone weave.

    Good job on tackling it all.

  5. Roger:

    I've never done a cone weave but I think it would be too hard for me if they put them too close together

    Riding the Wet Coast

  6. Lori.....Slap on the way!! What you must relise is that is wasnt just a few cones, but the type of riding a mortorcycle officer has to be able to accomplish.....sadly I dont think any one has to worry about me getting flashing red and blues any time soo.

  7. Tina: Well worth putting a little time into a bit of training for such things.

  8. Geoff: Looking forward to another observed ride from you.....and I suspect it will be a lot of fun with Bob as normal

  9. Trobaritz and BobScoot.......you will never know until you give it a go!

  10. Remember that training ( and observed rides with feedback ) teaches us what we need to practice. It also shows us what we do well so we can concentrate more effort on improving that which needs it.

    Interstingly, as one who trains motor officers, I tell you that the primary reason for all the small, tight, cone work is to get the officers bonded with their bikes. They spend a lot of their lives on that bike. Not to take away from the skill the officer show, but if you think about it most of the small cone, slow speed stuff is made up of convenience skills.

    It's convenient to be able to turn a bike around in the space of a parking lot space. Not necessarily a street survival skill. It is, however, easier to make street moves with the confidence base gained from the slow stuff.

    So great to see you reaching out!

  11. I just finished my novice and traffic course. I hated the little orange cones and they hated me back. A couple of times I murdered one or two of them grinding them under the training bike. I was overjoyed when I passed my MSA test. each time I go out on the bike I try o finish my rides practicing the new skills I have learned in the last 3 weeks. I think as a new rider the key to riding well is to routinely practice my skills. I do however have an orange cone aversion now..