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7 Reasons to Travel on Your Own

4 Jul

Having problems finding people with the same time off or wanting the same style of experience? Are you thinking of going it alone? I say go for it! You won’t regret it!! I found myself recently single and wanting a change of pace with some travel…but no one wanting to do the same thing or with the same time off. I thought it over and planned a trip that was still exactly what I wanted to do but a bit more conducive to traveling alone. I found a whole bunch of bonuses to going it alone that might appeal to you too:

Let's be honest...not everyone is going to want to do this! So traveling alone is an excellent option : )

1. You can do what you want, when you want! If you feel like eating at some out there raw food restaurant or clubbing till 4 am or gazing at the stars just a little longer you can!
2. Easier to meet people – people aren’t intimidated to come up and talk to a single girl. You are also more likely to strike up conversations with someone new when you aren’t conversing with someone already!
3. Time to reflect.
4. Time to remember who you are.
5. Slide into places with ease – single seats are often still available at shows or for transportation etc., dodge lineups at clubs, find a cute little table on a patio.
6. You can use all the pillows. 🙂
7. Confidence soars. You are navigating a new place and new adventures completely on your own steam…makes you feel good!

In the next few days I’m going to set aside some time to write about what I did to give solo adventurers a taste of one potential adventure.

The Road Test – What to Expect

17 Jun

A month has almost passed already since I passed my road test; I really need to set aside some time to blog!

A quick recap of my motorcycle adventure so far:
1. Wrote learner’s test one day when bored in early February
2. Purchased bike in late February
3. Lots of parking lot practice and little bit of back roads
4. Took skills test late March
5. Low traffic practice for most of April, higher traffic practice in May
6. Road test late May
7. Outgrew bike – Sold bike
8. Dreaming of next bike and future bike trips!!!

So I last blogged about prepping for the road test with a road assessment. I found this to be pretty useful to fine tune a few things like lane positioning. I didn’t take a novice course but do plan on taking a more advanced maneuvers course in the future.

The Road Test – What to Expect

I arrived with a bit of nerves at the licensing office. I always find it funny, you know that there is no point in being nervous (it’s not like you will be executed if you fail the test) but a little part of you still is. I got all the paper work taken care of and then sat down to wait. They passed a card that had these tips on it (or something very similar to):


Riders will do best on Class 6 road test if they make the following skills part of their everyday riding routine:
-Keep to posted speed limits.
-Do not keep up to speeding traffic.
-Watch for school zones and playgrounds.
-Make full stops for stop signs and stop in the correct position.
-When turning right, shoulder check to the right to ensure there are no cyclists, pedestrians or other road users.
-Mirror check and shoulder check whenever you change lanes or direction.
-Keep a safe distance from other vehicles and maintain a dominant lane position.
-Scan intersections before riding through, even if the light is green when you approach.

I then got suited up with an ICBC vest and radio to hear directions from the examiner. As we wandered over to my bike I noticed two extra people get into the examiner’s car…so now there were 4 sets of eyes for my test! Just my luck that the supervisors were joining the ride.

The examiner had me go through a pre-trip inspection with him. He was quite nice but of course had to make a joke about my 125 being a girly bike 🙂 Then it was off to the races. I made it through my test with only one thing marked off – I went through a yellow light. I thought that I would have a restriction on my license of no passengers since I was riding the 125 but they didn’t actually put that on. All in all it was a fairly straight forward process. Here are a few tips:

1. Don’t wait for the examiner’s vehicle just ride as if you were on your own. The less they see the better. If they want you to pull over they will tell you. I was often quite far ahead and I never once had to pull over.

2. Exaggerate your scanning a little bit – I know this seems ridiculous but they can’t see your eyes but they can see your head movement. So make it obvious that you are looking around for hazards and scanning intersections by completely moving your head even though you could scan with just your eyes.

3. Put a sticker or piece of coloured tape on the back of your helmet. If you have a single colour helmet add something to the back of it so that your head movements are more obvious to an observer behind you.

4. Don’t slow down unnecessarily for corners etc. that have a suggested speed limit (yellow sign). They want to see that you can ride confidently and in a manner that is with the flow of traffic.

5. See Examiner’s tips above.

6. Ask for clarification or repetition of instructions by tapping your head if you need.

7. Relax and enjoy it as much as you enjoy your normal rides!

So there you go my short journey so far into the world of motorbikes! I got a message this week from one of my best friends in Calgary. She has decided to sign up for a novice course this summer and also decided to treat herself to a Ducati Monster 696. Plans for a coastal road trip next summer are in the works – I am so thrilled!!!

Prep for Road Test

27 May

I kind of get a little OCD when I am learning new things…which I guess isn’t necessarily a terrible thing since learning anything does require attention and practice. As a teacher, I have come across students who say that can’t learn something but haven’t actually even put any attention or practice onto what they are trying to learn or understand. Go figure. Then again maybe they shouldn’t even be learning things that they aren’t inspired to spend time on – oh education system how you baffle me. Anyways enough ranting about that. Road test prep.

I went for a decent ride almost every evening that the weather was cooperative. I started out on roads that were fairly quiet in terms of traffic and chaos yet challenging in terms of curves and speed. At the same time I continued practicing my basic low speed maneuvers and emergency stops for a few minutes before I headed out. I moved more into town at the start of the month and then worked into riding in heavier traffic situations. It is an obvious progression but make sure you do this!! Master what it feels like to go through corners, intersections etc. first and then jump into heavier traffic (that sounds terrible please don’t do that). Again I LOVED every minute of practicing so it wasn’t hard to be motivated. I find riding is kind of similar to the feeling I used to get while skiing (I haven’t done this in years since I was in a car accident and needed spine surgery). I will get out there again soon though just need to work on strengthening a bit more first! This has kind of been my getting over the fear of being in an accident self therapy too.

I had my road test date booked basically since I passed my skills test so about one week before my test date I booked a road assessment. I HIGHLY recommend that you do book your road test after you pass your skills test so that you stay on track to get your license. I have met so many people who have started the process and then stopped and started over again due to lack of commitment. Basic Parkinson’s Law. I wanted to take a few private lessons with a different company but they would not do it unless you had taken their novice courses or already had your full license. So I booked a road assessment with Learn to Ride after reading some reviews online that made me a bit skeptical I figured I might as well give it a go and decide for myself.

It was super easy and convenient for me to book a time for the assessment. I met up with the instructor in a parking lot close to my home and we talked over a few basic techniques and went through how the assessment would go and where we would ride. We spent about an hour riding in short stints followed by discussion of what he noticed or pointers for the road test. I found it to be quite helpful. He had some good suggestions about lane positioning that I incorporated right away. We went through basically all the situations that I would encounter on the road test and although it really wasn’t anything new I felt a lot more confident after this experience. At the end he said I should definitely pass – unless I missed a speed zone sign or something like that. I know that I already have good driving habits from taking Young Drivers years ago for my car license and a lot of what I learned there crosses over to riding. I am happy with my choice to just buy a bike and learn on my own rather than take a course. I think this is a viable option for people who already have some basic training in road safety and those who are willing to do a bit of reading and LOTS of practice on the road. That said I do definitely want to take a more advanced course. I am comfortable that I have covered the basics but would like some guidance with the next step and more complicated safety maneuvers. Riding is one of those things that you can always get better at – which is something I find attractive about it!

**SIDE NOTE: I was told by the instructor that I couldn’t get my full license if I did my road test on the 125. I double checked into it before taking my test and this is NOT true. You can take your road test on a 125. You will not be restricted to riding a bike under 200 cc. The only restriction you will have is no passengers which was fine with me ( I don’t want any anyways!) but I know this would be a deal breaker for some people. I called the general ICBC number and they told me I couldn’t get a full license with a 125 but the lady didn’t seem to know what she was talking about. So I called my local branch and asked the road test booking desk. The said yes you could but no passengers, no limit on bike size. I had them confirm with their supervisor and it checked out. Not sure if it varies with location so call your local branch if you want to confirm!!**

Passed the Motorcycle Skills Test…

15 Apr

Which is great because I can now go out and ride on my own! I very much look forward to some more practice and hopefully some nice sunny days!!

So if you are curious about the MST it really isn’t that bad, especially with a small maneuverable bike. I did practice a fair bit too, I really want to make sure my basic skills are solid for safe riding. A few people at the test looked like they were having a bit of difficulty but they had much larger bikes.

So here is a brief run down of the MST that I had – there was nothing unexpected and the examiner explained everything really well.

Part A

Go go gadget paint skills!

I will try to explain using my crappy Paint drawings.
So you pull up to the first set of cones on the bottom right. They get you to run through with them where all the controls are and they check your lights. From here they get you to come off the bike and push it in a straight line (A). You then stop at the end cones, crank your handle bar all the way to the left and push it forward (make sure you keep it as upright as possible) so they can measure the turning radius (B). Then you get back on the bike and ride back to the same starting point (C).

Part B

Slow speed, turn and slalom

Once again starting at the bottom right cones they had me complete a slow straight line and then stop at the two end cones (A). From here they wanted a turn (within a set boundary) and then right into the slalom (B). My diagram is a bit messed up but you get the point. You could start the slalom on any side you wanted. Once out of the slalom it was through the two cones at the bottom of the screen (D) and then back to the start at (A) for one more run of it. On the second run they have you pull through the cones (D) and stop facing the opposite direction that you have been going.

Part C

Accelerating, turn, quick stop

Now facing the other direction (A) you take off and turn through a set of cones (B), then accelerate up to ~ 20 – 25 km/hr up and do a smooth turn (C) and accelerate up to 25 km/hr (D) in preparation for a quick stop. The examiner stands at the bottom set of cones and drops a hand when you are to brake. They were letting people do this loop two times (not sure if that is normal, maybe it was just because the pavement was quite wet).

At the end you stop and review your results.

I’m sure the test is a bit different all the time but this gives you an idea of what to expect. You could also call the office and see what days the run the tests and stop by to have a look at what people are doing.

Now lots of more practice and I will give the road test a crack.

Pretty Wicked Lady

5 Apr

If you’re feeling a little sluggish on this Tuesday and need some inspiration check out this lady, Roz Savage.

Learning to Ride

30 Mar

I love it! So far I’ve done a fair amount of off road practice in a little lot near our place. From that I have put together a little list of 10 things I have found useful so far:

So, is there any tread left on the tires? Or at this point would it be like throwing a hot dog down a hallway?

1. Pick a bike to learn on that you aren’t afraid of and look forward to riding.
2. Try shorter but more frequent practice sessions when starting out.
3. Practice what you are “bad” at (seems obvious but you’d be surprised how many people avoid what they struggle with).
4. Stay relaxed and present. This makes a huge difference!!!
5. Be okay with making a few ridiculous mistakes.
6. Ask lots of questions!
7. Look where you want to go…it seems pretty much impossible to mess up with this tip.
8. Practice.
9. If you don’t understand something get someone to give you a quick demo or go online to see if you can find a video.
10. You really can’t accidentally change more than 1 gear so don’t worry that you’ve overshifted or undershifted.

Mind over Mornings and Mondays

28 Mar

Interesting how if you decide to have a good morning or Monday or whatever you usually do! Funny how that works. It is such an amazing time of year…if for whatever reason you aren’t able to get outside and enjoy all the beauty of spring make sure you bring some of it inside. I find even having a simple arrangement of flowers from the garden in your workspace makes a huge difference.

Something beautiful amongst the chaos of the desk

It is funny too how so many people wait for others to get them flowers…if you love getting flowers make sure you get some for yourself! And your man – I know many men who appreciate flowers so make sure you brighten their day too!