Going Through Police Motor School
May 13, 2010 at 7:04 pm #3958
I found this guys story an interesting read. Basically he documents in detail his 2 week Police Motorcycle School training. The full thread is here but I’ve copied over his posts as his comments get lost among the general chit chat.
Day 1, Monday, April 26th
The classroom portion of the 2 week class lasted about 1 1/2 hours. Consisted of introductions, waivers, equipment checks, going over the class schedule, etc… No more classroom, the rest of the 2 weeks will be spent riding.
We started out slowly by going around the bikes, basic familiarization stuff. 10 students, seven on E-Glides and 3 on Road Kings. “This is your jiffy-stand, this is the jiffy stand spring that will eventually break, this is where you check your oil”, pretty basic stuff. Then we were shown how to walk the bikes forward and back (no straddling here), and how to properly pick up a downed bike.
Once we saddled up, we went to the range and started with friction zone drills. Front tire resting against a 2×4, clutch out, throttle up gently over the board, then rest your back tire against it, same thing…object being to go over gently enough to not spit the 2×4 to the rear. We did this for what seemed like forever.
Basic figure 8’s were next, large circles, head and eyes up, look where you’re going, don’t look down. As soon as we showed proficiency the figure 8’s were tightened…a lot! We rode figure 8’s for quite a while… it’s day 1 and we’re doing full lock turns and some are scraping boards.
Slow, straight line cone weave was next. I think the cones were about 15 feet in between. Sounds like a long distance…it isn’t. I managed to do it many times without taking out a cone but some of my runs weren’t as smooth as I would have liked. From the slow straight weave we went immediately to a slow, very tight offset weave at the end of the afternoon. I was doing as well as anyone on this and I never made it all the way through without killing cones. This thing is TIGHT. I was assured that by day 3 or 4 this would seem like child’s play. I can’t imagine how! Bikes were dropping all over the course, nasty sounds all around!
We did a little bit of “off-road” riding, which I wasn’t expecting. It rained last night and has been spitting on us a little throughout the afternoon. The grass was a little slippery, one bike went down.
At the end of the day my upper back is sore and my neck is killing me. I dropped the bike just twice on day one and managed to do it without getting hurt or damaging the bike. One of the other students wasn’t so lucky. He went down in a figure 8 and was pinned under the bike for a bit, left in an ambulance. He was smiling as they wheeled him away and assured us that it wasn’t serious and that he’d be back tomorrow. Hope he’s right.
The bike I’m training on is an ’09. I am having a little bit of a tough time getting used to the throttle. I’m used to the feel of the cables on my ’07, there is definitely a difference. The clutch is a little grabby, the bike doesn’t run nearly as well as my own and there is a nasty vibration in the fairing…I suspect a broken fairing bracket. The police seat is OK, sits me up higher than I’m used to but that’s OK, I miss my backrest badly. I certainly wouldn’t trade my bike for this one!
Day 2, Tuesday, April 27th
We started the day, kickstands up, at 8:00 A.M. sharp. We were told when we arrived that the rider who went down yesterday would not be back, his ankle was badly broken. He’s looking and pins and screws and re-hab. The scary thing was that the guy who went down was easily the most experienced “student” rider in the class. If it could happen to him, it could happen to any of us.
We were then allowed to warm up and practice on our own for the first hour. I used that time to do the slow weave and then the offset weave, with some figure 8’s worked in as well. This off-set weave thing is tough, but I managed to do 4 or 5 clean runs on my own before the hour was up and was feeling pretty cocky. I managed to crash just once during this first hour when I was pulling a tight figure 8.
The instructors came out and led us on a short ride though the park. By that I mean the grass, dirt, and mud. It was very wet and very slippery, but everyone managed to stay upright. Then it was time for a new exercise, the 90 degree pull-out. You start with your bars at full lock, left or right, whichever direction they say, and have to put your feet up as soon as you’re moving and pull away without hitting the cones that are seriously close in front of you. I did this exercise well, really had no problem going either left or right. Some struggled though, lots of crashing. While waiting for another chance to do the pull-out we were encouraged to practice figure 8’s, slow weave and offset weave.
Just before lunch I noticed the instructors setting something up on the opposite end of the course. Lots of cones. This was a little piece of torture called “the intersection”. Basically, the cone layout forces you to ride a cloverleaf pattern. Oh my God! If I thought the off-set weave was hard, this was impossible! I watched the demonstration (made it look easy) and then, one by one, every rider who attempted it crashed repeatedly. They were drilling it into us how important it was going to be to turn our head and eyes. I pulled in, made my first right hand turn, started back around to the left and crashed. No big deal, right? Picked the bike up and started again. Right turn, then left, then crash. Dammit! Try again, right, then left, then crash! This was proving to be a real problem for me. I tried and tried, crashing every time, or at least wiping out the cones, until I managed to make it through 2 of the 4 quarters of the pattern. At this point I know it can be done and I’m going to keep trying until I get it, but I’m getting frustrated and my confidence is taking a nose-dive. It’s lunchtime now and I’m glad for the break.
After lunch, just like this morning, we were allowed to go out and practice on our own for a bit. I went straight for “the intersection” and proceed crashing again. I finally cleared it with an instructor to go over into the corner of the slab by myself and work on turning as tight as I can in both directions, without cones, instructors or other students watching. I manage to figure out on my own that when the bike is at full lock and the boards are scraping, it won’t fall and go boom as long as I keep on the throttle. I’m over there doing seriously tight circles in both directions relatively easily. This bike will dive into those full-lock turns and stay upright after all! Now it’s time to go back to the cones and try again. First time in I make it ¾ of the way around and crash, but that ¾ around gave me a huge confidence boost. Back in line and then the next 4 runs were clean!! I was feeling good about myself again!
The end of day 2 brings the first of many instructor evaluations. They meet with each rider individually and talk about what they’ve noticed that we need to work on. I was encouraged to hear that the instructors, or at least the one I was talking with, think I’m one of the better riders in the class, but it was no surprise to hear that I need to work on turning my head and eyes to look at where I want to go and quit looking at the cones. I am also “jerky” and will need to make smoother runs if I want to make it all the way through.
At the end of the day we did another short ride though the park but the grass was dry by now so it was pretty easy. I’m sore and I’m tired, I’ve crashed at least a dozen times today.
Day 3, Wednesday, April 28th
I’m stiff and sore. Ibuprofen didn’t seem to help my back much at all this morning. The muscle that runs up the left side of my left shin is incredibly sore, I obviously strained it somehow. I rode my own bike to training this morning and was really wishing I had the heel shifter that I despise so much, just because it hurts to lift the toe shifter.
I came into the barn this morning to see one of the Road Kings up on a jack getting new rear brake pads. Aside from clutch adjustments, the brakes are the first issue with the bikes I’ve seen. The first hour this morning was given to us for practice time. I’m learning to appreciate the practice time, it allows me to work on the things that I know I need to work on at my own pace. I went straight for the slow weave to warm up a bit, then to the offset weave. My performance in the offset weave told me that this might be a long day! I shrugged it off and kept practicing, eventually finding myself at the entrance to the dreaded “intersection”. First run was clean…whew! Second run, bike down! I keep going in too fast. This is a SLOW speed exercise; I need to keep telling myself that. Well, that and “head and eyes UP!”
The focus today was braking. After practice we all went to a straight-away where there were cones marking stopping distance and a radar trailer to measure our speed. I have always been pretty good about practicing my emergency braking so I found this pretty easy. Boring even. We started by coming into the stop area at 25 mph, then 30, then 35, with the object being, obviously, to stop in the shortest amount of space possible without locking your brakes. I understand the importance of this, and I expect we’ll see a lot more of it, but with just one of us at a time doing the exercise, it made for a lot of down time.
After lunch we went back to braking and did that until about 2:30. One of the guys broke a kickstand spring when he hit a curb, so we got the see how those are replaced. We were then led back down to “the pad” for our daily surprise…the “keyhole”, AKA the “360”. Cones are set up in a circle (I couldn’t measure and they wouldn’t tell me, but it looked to be about 18’) with a gate to enter and exit. I’ve seen it before and always marveled at how small it is and how those guys could actually get in, around and out without crashing. And now they expect us to do it on Day 3? Well, as it happens, this was exactly what they expected!
At least 2 of my peers are seriously down on themselves right now. They haven’t been able to do the offset weave clean yet, let alone the intersection, and now the keyhole is being thrown at them. The instructors have been saying all along that the pace would be fast and that, usually by Thursday of week 1, things would start to “click”. I hope they don’t get frustrated to the point of quitting.
After dividing us into 2 smaller groups, we headed off to our respective keyhole to give it a shot. Just as I was about to venture in, I was called over by an instructor for my daily evaluation. My marks in all areas but one have improved from yesterday. The one where they’re still failing me is…all together now…HEAD AND EYES. They love my attitude and have no doubt that I’m right on schedule and will breeze right through this class. If only I were so confident! As we’re chatting, I’m watching out of the corner of my eye and seeing bikes go down left and right in the keyhole. This is gonna be tough!
After my evaluation, I went off to a corner and did some tight full-lock turns on my own, then headed in to give it a shot. First attempt was a bust, bike down at the midway point. Went down right where I was looking I suspect. After a few more full-lock practice turns I try again. This time I actually made it in and all the way around, but missed the exit. Dammit! But, huge confidence boost, I CAN do this. A few more practice turns waiting for another chance to make the keyhole my bitch.
Next time in wasn’t pretty, but I made it! No cones down, no bike down, I made it! I was so excited I went immediately back in and did it again, and then again and again. I may not be the smoothest, or the prettiest, but I’m actually doing it, and my confidence is soaring. It’s probably a good thing when they sounded the horn and ended the day on a high note!
It’s bike night tonight at the local watering hole and I’m not sure I want to go, my back and my left leg need rest.May 13, 2010 at 7:04 pm #26406
I was hurting pretty bad this morning; I managed to pinch a nerve in my middle back when I was tying up my boots. I loaded up on Tylenol and Ibuprofen and headed out. Another student offered some Icy Hot so I applied that liberally before we started.
We fired the bikes up at 8:00 A.M. with the first hour for warm-up and practice. Like most others, I started slow on the slow cone weave and offset cone weave, then the 90 degree pull-out, both directions, then the intersection and the keyhole. I was feeling pretty good right away and was able to make clean passes on all of the exercises. The intersection, the 90 degree pullout and the keyhole all must be done in both directions. The pullout is no problem, but the keyhole and the intersection most certainly are. I can do them both with relative ease at this point going counter-clockwise, but clockwise is quite another story.
At 9:00 A.M. we split into 2 groups, one working on emergency braking and the other staying on the pad and practicing all of the exercises. I was up to do braking first and may have gone into it a little over-confident. On my first 40 mph pass I managed to lock the front wheel. Let me tell you, when this happens, you KNOW it’s happened. Serious pucker factor kicked in. Immediately release and properly reapply was drilled into us, so this is what I did and I managed to stay upright. The instructor said the wheel was locked for 6 to 8 feet…it felt further! I might have been a little gunshy after that, but finished out OK. One thing of note…I have a newfound appreciation for the newer Brembo brakes, be they ABS or not. I can really tell the difference when I get off of that bike and back onto my ’07. Brembo’s really are much better.
At about 10:30 it was our turn out on the pad. I worked almost exclusively on the intersection and the keyhole, trying and trying to get through them going clockwise. I did manage to whip the intersection several times and feel pretty good about that, but the keyhole apparently has my number.
After lunch our groups went off to braking and pad work again. Due to clutch issues with one of the bikes in the other group, they went to work on braking first and my group went to the pad. I went right back where I’d left off, working the intersection and keyhole clockwise. The intersection is definitely more challenging for me clockwise than it is counter-clockwise, but I’m at a point where I can usually get through clean in both directions. Note that I said usually. On one of my passes I went down on the right side and managed to get my leg caught up under the right side saddlebag. It twisted me right down to the ground…hard. I must have twisted the throttle with my right hand because the bike screamed and bounced back up, without me, and flipped over onto its left side. It was my first ugly, and painful, crash. I laid there for a minute making sure all my parts still worked and that nothing was broken. Damn that hurt. Ruined a good pair of blue jeans too.
My confidence was shaken at this point and the horn sounded for the groups to switch. We went out to work on braking for a while and all went well. I used the little bit of down time between runs to stretch and shake off my crash.
We then went on a group ride, cross-country style. Our training facility is next to a large city park and we were riding on the grass, up and down hills, on mountain bike trails, over ruts and holes. As far as I know, no one went down and it was kind of fun.
After the group ride we all went back to the pad to continue working. I’m stubborn, so I dove right back into the keyhole going clockwise. Crashed a few times, took out a lot of cones, but kept going back for more. I did eventually get through it clean a couple of time going clockwise, but it’s frustrating because I can do it counter-clockwise almost easily at this point. Why the big difference? It turns out that I’m not alone. Several of the students are having the exact same issues. I will get it, I refuse to let the keyhole win, but it’s frustrating.
My daily evaluation was frustrating as well. My marks either stayed the same or improved in all categories but one…head and eyes. Dammit I struggle forcing myself to turn my head. I know I’m doing it in the intersection, which might explain why I can successfully complete it in both directions, but I seem to look, and ride, straight into the ground when I do the clockwise keyhole.
Day 5 tomorrow will bring the last 2 new maneuvers, I know one of them involves emergency braking and swerving but I’m not sure about the other. It’s a 180 degree something or other, I have no idea.
Most of my peers are doing well. One of the best riders happens to be the only female in the class. She had almost no riding experience a week ago and is making some of this stuff look easy. I’m really pulling for her, she has a great attitude and wants very much to be the first certified female motor officer in Nebraska. I have no doubt that she’ll make it.
The guys who were frustrated yesterday are still frustrated today. One of them is openly talking about quitting, the other isn’t saying it but he’s really down and I can tell he’s thinking it. I went down about 8 times today, but only the one time hurt and shook me up. My right foot is getting stiff as I type this, I hope it isn’t messed up too bad. Thank God for over the ankle leather boots because I’m still having fun and can’t wait for tomorrow!May 13, 2010 at 7:11 pm #26414
Ok, so this is getting to be a huge thread. I’ll avoid posting the rest of his story but Day 5 starts on page 11 of the original thread.May 13, 2010 at 8:05 pm #26415
One; In most occupations zero background experience in a given profession means you don’t qualify to apply for the position, how is it they would hire a motorcycle cop, when the applicant has zero experience riding motorcycles. Or do I have it backwards and having extensive experience riding motorcycles makes you a non-desirable candidate for Police officer.
Second; I realize that full dress Road Kings are what they are expected to ride day in and day out, ( unless they are lucky enough to have BMW’s but to learn techniques like full lock figure eights on such a humongous bike is pure folly ! …someone could break an ankle or something !May 13, 2010 at 8:11 pm #26416
I bet the police have the same view as the military (and indeed most of the US government) does when it comes to occupational training: it doesn’t matter if you’ve spent your life doing it, or you’ve never done it at all, you’re all going to learn to do it OUR way through OUR system.
That way, ensures a baseline of quality and predictability, two things important in that kind of job.May 14, 2010 at 4:05 am #26427
This is supposed to be pretty challenging; even for experienced riders.
Alameda County in Northern California (San Francisco Bay Area)May 14, 2010 at 6:11 am #26432
You can also take the training in Seattle or Portland. At $1095 it’s not cheap but that is for 40 hours of training, which works out cheaper per hour than most advanced classes.May 14, 2010 at 7:18 am #26436
None of that seems too scary, provided you let me ride my 300 lbs DR-Z. Make me try that with a cruiser and I’d be a dead man. That looks SO HARD. His skills are impressive!
Eon, you thinking about giving this a shot?May 14, 2010 at 1:48 pm #26439
1) the scraping and 2) the fact that the course is within a tiny, enclosed area with lots of obstacles. That that’s not a concern clearly shows the caliber of ridersMay 14, 2010 at 2:29 pm #26437
Not right now. Given the fact I’ve only ridden a bike with a clutch in the BRC that seems a little out of my league just now (though there are some who think a lack of bad habits is a plus). Maybe next year.May 14, 2010 at 6:45 pm #26448
I would totally love to do something like this… Just not on a monster bike. I’m with eternal, give me something small and maneuvarable, and I’ll be happy to do figure 8s all day long….May 15, 2010 at 12:16 am #26454
I want to chuck a 10″ cement block out there and make them pop over itMay 15, 2010 at 6:28 am #26464
I think my fear of a big bike at low speed indicates a big gap in my riding ability. At $1K+, that course is a tough pill to swallow, but I think you (Eon) have inspired me to give it a shot. It’ll be a while before I have time and money for this, but hopefully I can make it happen by the end of next summer. We’ll see.
Still, Owlie, for now I’m with you. I’ll stick to my 300lb bikeAugust 8, 2016 at 1:47 am #30355
Would u be able to send me the entire thread on al of this! This page didn't go past day 5 of his school. I'm missing the second week.
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