Yesterday I took a full day ATV industrial operators safety course from the Canadian Safety Council. It was arranged through our local college with an instructor brought up from Whitehorse.

I’ve been riding with Jeff and our friends a few times, but I was never trained on how to actually ride or operate this thing. I was kinda just winging it!

Taking the day long course turned out to be a brilliant idea! It really boosted my confidence for riding, operating, and maintaining my machine.

There were 5 of us in the class. The other 4 people were all taking the course to earn the safety certification for their jobs. We were able to do the entire course in town, in a large gravel staging area near the north end dog park, used for a snow dump and the mud bog later in the summer.

Lunch break

The instructor swore that he knew me from somewhere. It took us a few hours to figure out, but it turns out we both worked in the same building in the Sault about 15 or so years ago! Small world!

We started the day learning more about our machines. All of our quads were a different make, so we got to go hands on to see the difference between fixed rear axles and independent suspension. Some of the machines were full time 4×4, two required gear shifting, two had a different cooling system, half of us had our front brake on the opposite side, and some had a reverse override feature I had never heard of before. A couple of the machines had a couple of wear and tear mechanical issues that we were able to see, feel, and learn what to look for.

With the small class size, each time we learned a technique, we got to repeat it over and over until it was second nature. We started with some simple stuff, forward and back, proper braking, and led into turning, emergency stops, emergency avoidance of obstacles, and then learned how to drive over large obstacles (like stumps or logs). By the end of the afternoon we were going up and down hills, driving on an angle, and then we did U-turns on a slope.

We each got to try a “K turn” too, on a hill. That means driving up a steep hill, realizing you can’t make it for one reason or another, getting off your machine while it is in neutral, and then with your hand on the brake, turning the machine around while walking beside it, until you are facing down hill again.

Since the other four people in the class had work machines, we learned how to safely load and unload their trailer for transporting their machines. We spent a bit of time learning safe techniques while using the winch too, including some things I had never heard of before.

I had a wonderful day. I did every exercise and never once had to mention cancer recovery as an excuse. I doubt I could have done the full day of this probably even a couple weeks ago, but every day I’m a day better!

Of course today, every single muscle in my body hurts. Even my fingers. And it feels amazing! I’d so rather be sore because I actually did something, compared to the lingering bone and joint pain I have. The darkening tan on my arms is a nice touch too! I’m alive! Even the mosquitos are showing an interest in me again!

Now to get back to making up the work hours I missed while I was riding!