Monday, August 15, 2005


Bad weather and the MSF instructor

Most of the southern US was blanketed in heavy rain over the weekend, and West Texas was no exception. Rain is normally a welcome occurrence here in the arid expanse of the cactus patch, but when I have to teach an MSF class in a torrent, an already demanding job becomes downright stressful. That was the case beginning last Friday night as the students assembled for the first classroom unit, with downpours continuing off and on until the Sunday morning riding test.

Rainy days on the range upset processes and procedures in ways the casual observer may not realize. You might imagine that riders lose traction more readily and tend to slip and fall more often. You might also imagine that the stress level of the students rises, and can effect their performance. Those things are indeed true, but that's only the beginning. Evaluation sheets get soaked. Ink runs. Visors fog over. Bikes can act up. Range markings can become difficult to see. There always seem to be puddles right in the dead center of coaching positions. The sound of the rain hitting the range eventually becomes a loud, annoying white noise that can't be shut off. After a few hours, everyone's irritability level rises, and students and instructors alike are anxious to get the course finished.

Thankfully, there's a bright side. When the class is finally over and the completion certificates are given out, the sense of accomplishment and camaraderie amongst class members is heightened. Not only did they pass the class, they passed it under adverse conditions that most students in dry West Texas don't normally have to deal with. Instructors are proud, too. Successfully coaching a group of mostly beginners while at the same time fighting Mother Nature can be a significant confidence booster.

8 of our 10 rostered students passed the class this weekend. So to Landon, Daniel, Marci, Aprill, Sherry, Robert, Kim, and Amy, I say congratulations. Best of luck in your motorcycling endeavors and may you be blessed with good roads and clear skies as often as possible. Welcome to motorcycling.


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