Canuck CDL Journal: Balls To The Wall

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mikemotorbike's Comment
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Tuckers see everything, and its changing all the time. They are trained to reduce all of it into a simple plan of action.

Truckers can speak with brutal simplicity. throw out the fifty dollar words, and talk with: humility, respect, friendliness, and pride.

To: Butch’s Trucking

Hey Butch, Mike here, the trucking student. I am now halfway trough school (Kamloops - TRU Greenhorn Program), and getting a better handle on driving rigs. I’m really excited about driving a truck! I’ll be taking the test for my Class 1 at the end of march. I hope to have the chance to talk with you about training opportunities and/or potential work.

mikemotorbike's Comment
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I have reached a milestone. Learning to go slow. A slow student driver. Now I intend to pay attention, and think, before acting. I’m not studying anymore. Except the pre-trip routine, and this blog. And for the first time since I got here. Its not all about grades. The important things you have to learn from your mistakes.

My Instructor has been telling me to slow down, and to let him teach me. For instance, lat week. I overshot the white stop line by 5 feet in the industrial park. All the other boys were looking. I later contemplated very, very seriously about this, I need to slow way down. I finally stopped when I felt something in me moved and I had a relization that ‘I am safe’. I had done my spiritual/introspective homework.

Today, I din't notice or din't remember, an exit my Instructor told me to take, had two lanes. A car startled me zooming on my right. I started to bail left and hit my brakes. A semi was behind me. A fuel truck. I din't notice him behind me. He went around, I drove over the while shaded area back onto the offramp. It was then my instructor had a heart attack. He said, I said he panicked. The proof of the pudding is, if I was driving safely, I should have been in a calmer, happier and non-anxious mood. I would had I been paying attention. My reaction could have cost several lives. I told him to tell me stuff earlier. The truth is, I should have been paying attention, and remembering, and planning, way earlier. Pay attention, remember, plan. act, see, think, do. Think. Plan. Act.

I shared with my instructor my philosophy that we are here to learn lessons. I notice certain traffic problems follow certain drivers. It depends on what your lesson is. I must believe that that I am meant to live, life has meaning, so stay with the plan, and trust The Big Instructor.

I complained to my (real) Instructor about the misaligned mirrors. OK , I flipped out again. I’m a real "tuff guy". I wondered if this were a test to see if I would demonstrate pro-active assertiveness by wrenching on them myself. With his ashen face inches from mine at the partially rolled down window, he solemnly and repeatedly endorsed the advice to talk to Ray.

Hi Ray,

I’m learning a lot in the course. Thanks for putting me with the observant, attentive and experienced Instructor BIg Wayne. I loved learning with Mike’s calm teaching style, and Kurt offered valuable experience from an alternative viewpoint.

By week three, I am finally slowing down a bit. Now I am learning to pay attention to what's going on around me to keep myself, other road users and my equipment safe.

To remain safe, it is essential that I effectively use the mirrors. I notice all the mirrors on tractor #110 offer different views from each other.

May I know please if/when I will be recieving instruction on mirror adjustment?

And if it’s no extra trouble, I’d really appreciate it if you could let BIg Wayne know when to train me in it.

Thank you, best wishes,


So I think its a test. I retrospect, don’t think it would have been wise for me to wrench them. My Instructor gave me good advice. Becasue, it’s not my property, and I don’t know the approved method, and other people lives are potentially involved. Also, did you see that I was polite? Am can be a hothead. Remember, I flipped out earlier over backing. My nerves are shot after a period of sensory overload.

Think about what happens to you In a day. You are effectively being tested. Maybe for real, maybe just because you are becoming aware of what you need to change about yourself.


Operating While Intoxicated

mikemotorbike's Comment
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Getting comfortable. too comfortable, starting to enjoy it too much. We can't have fun now, can we!

So I stopped the truck while shifting on three different hills. When that happens we sit laughing and enjoying the valley view from the middle of the highway, and talk about the pretty ICBC road tester. Everyone was happy, waving and blowing kisses at their happy and handsome men eating donuts in the middle of the freeway.

I was going splitting from 4 into 5, and I couldn't find the gear. Speed limit 70 km/h. I was going 30 km/h (i think). I have a habit of riding the clutch during delayed shiftting as it finds the gear. I also like to hit the gas right after shifting in a panic. All the while, the transmission is stopping, as the clutch disengages it. High range requires a higher progressive shifting pattern RPM than the lower gears, and even morso on a hill, up to 1800 RPM.

So now I stop on hills when I get a chance. Just for the kisses.

re: mirrors: buck it up, butter cup–and clean them!

We have flat and convex mirrors. Convex for cornering, flat shows a bit of the sides of the truck. Get used to using the spot or convex mirrors. Also, there is no ICBC regulations about mirror adjustment. So it's the wild west of mirrors out there.

0718406001521159174.jpg Single trucker likes to have coffee and treats while viewing he valley from the mountain top, seeks A&W worker with ample discounts.


Operating While Intoxicated

PackRat's Comment
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This is some great reading, Mike. I really enjoy your posts!

PackRat's Comment
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Missing your postings, Mike....?

mikemotorbike's Comment
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Hi, thanks for your interest and patience, Pack-Rat, and lurkers.

Took a break to chill. Teacher's orders! And had a drivers test.

Since the last time: -resolved the mirrors issue -no biggie - the right flat one shows higher to see traffic farther -trailer offtrack about 6 inch - real life experience: still have to keep between the lines

-backed into neighbours car, left scratches on his bumper. I was tired, and practicing not using rear view mirror. don’t lack up if you don’t have to. According to the “Smith Method”, which my instructor had told me to look up before hand.

-Instructor forbade me to study. Except for pretrip. Less thinking more being. That's why no diary. It's all lazy boy for me.

-went back to coast for weekend. Took the famous Coquihalla, which is fast, dangerous and boring. Except for the constant imminent threat of death from being inattentive, and inexperienced drivers. I love the sudden snow the best, but the black ice and avalanches can't be beat!

The weekend break and drives tired me out for the week, and it really threw me off. Paradoxically, I did start to relax (I was exhausted) and begin to learn finally. It's been three weeks of adjustment. I am learning to chill. I’ve got a ways to go before I master 'laid-back and easy-going'. But less hyper, tense and overthinking it.

- Monday: Practical driving test. I drove 3 hrs sat and sun b4test mon. I aced the pretrip, but failed the test. Armageddon! Cats and dogs living together without benefit of the clergy!

Tester said my observation skills were above par compared to other students, a major relief. Chided me on overdoing the pretrip. I credit my dangerous goods driving Instructor. One off my bucket list. On the weekend, I was coached to slow down, not shift gears to much, and stop in 5th. I took the instruction literally on the test, and went 20 in 60s, and juddered to a halt at stops, missing the lines. Tester said I looked confused coming to stops. I was. I was doing something not natural for me. So I overcompensated. What can I say I am a libra! I used to drive to fast, now too slow. Now I believe the instruction was meant as a general advice not as a statement to follow literally. The primary task is to drive safely, then add speed when you're good.. Also, one can use the clutch to smoothly reduce speed coming to a stop, I thought that would be cheating, so attempted to slow using gears, and being in 5th….

So I was in shock. I got upset and cussed a bit, which the Instructor would have none of, and got out of the cab. He feels a bit hurt too, and fees disappointed I bet. He has stake in me. The next test is not for a month. Everyone knows this wait is unacceptable, however, I am a strange case. I had no previous driving experience. I had no trucker Dad. My exMil /Writer step-Dad drove sports cars. Instructor jokes that I am a Sports Truck Driver.

The School Owner said go back home to chill and deal with this after the Easter weekend. I returned to lick my wounds and de-stress and make a decision: to go back into the lions den at 500 bux a day, or take the offer of real life training in a gravel truck?

I re-rented my Kamloops digs for another month. I called the local trucker who had offered to train me before I went to school. I didn’t want to bother him before, but I bet I would have passed the practical test if I had trained before school.

I am now getting more serious about life.


Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

mikemotorbike's Comment
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Have Gravel, Will travel

I just came back today from my first day of training in a real work environment: construction site gravel truck. My Boss is newly recovering from an operation, but offered to come in to train me today anyway. Taking dirt and dumping it on a lot 5 mins away. We did 27 loads, and even picked up some clean sand from the quarry around the corner. When my Boss went to the loo as the truck was being loaded, I yelled if I could move the truck forward as the excavator was done. He said yes. Of course, it's that simple.

It's never that simple! Everybody showed up out of the blue to celebrate me taking the initiative with my student licence: 1) Two women having an adventure exploring the construction site 2)the main owner of the development in his shiny1/2 ton beast 3) and a trade pickup all show up the moment I block the tiny intersection. I moved into the side street, to let the pickup pass. I went slow and applied my training by stopping backing when I lost sight of the women behind me; and then the Big Kahoona backed up for me, all-in-all good as no one got run over. As I was crawling along in 1st low, the boss told me to step on it and not keep the big guy waiting.

On the construction road out, I had to stop several times. I couldn’t find second. I seemed to have lost it back on the street. In this unfamiliar Mac truck on a incline, with a different tach layout, the shifting pattern is different– higher. I could have split first, but I am rusty after a week off and forgot. So much for paying all that attention all morning.

So, Out I Go back to the passenger seat.

On the next round, a new truck showed up out of the blue to help to remove dirt. I wonder if my little 'initiative' had anything to do with that? Everytime he passed us, he gave us a huge smile. He smiles a lot, my boss says.

So I watched my Boss for the remainder of the day. Learned how to raise the bed and open the hatch. And listen to the calls on the speaker. In this town, everybody knows each other, they all grew up and went to the same high school. Very friendly banter. Funny thing, the VHF radio doesn’t reach 20 km which renders it almost useless here on the coast. It's the foliage, and hills. So its the cell phone on cab speaker which is used mostly.

My boss gets asked advice by his friendly, likeable, easy going drivers throughout the day. Family matters, ribald humour, business, sales calls; he needs a switchboard operator! It's too bad the radio doesn’t work well here. I thought I read there was a way to put VHF radios onto a digital channel which travel farther.

He kindly offered to ask his guys if they would be available to help train me tomorrow. I had a nap when I got home, and called at 8pm, and left a message. He’s probably real tired, sore and resting now, and it's too late to answer calls. So I will call at 6 AM. Heck, I may even go to McDonalds at 6 AM where he and the boys go before starting the day, as I look forward to having another one of the most exciting days of my mature new life.


PackRat's Comment
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Pleasantly surprised to see your triumphant return! I had given up on you after that longish posting pause. Glad to read you're still in the game. Don't overthink that next road test. You know that, though.good-luck.gif

mikemotorbike's Comment
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Mon April 23 2018

I am heading back to school today, with an apple (or a cigarette) for the teacher, to finish what I started. I need to get some more seat time in(39 hours) prior to taking the test again. I didn't write for a while because that is part of my lesson: to learn to shut up. And stop trying too hard, overthinking it. Just be. There's no prizes in trucking for best trucker. And besides, the real trucking skills are about developing the correct personality and character traits.

In the past three weeks, I have been practicing safe driving techniques in my car. And for a few days, had the incredible experience of riding ***** with the Trucker gods who run the Coast. Wow! just… wow.

An instructive inside look at real life trucking in the raw- like a blue collar Cirque de Soleil. A friendly, rambunctious dance of logistics, radio talk, map knowledge, and solid networking contacts.

Holy **** I wish I’d done this when It was offered before I went to school. When someone recognizes your worth, accept the gift with gratitude and humility. But I didn’t want to bother them. (Like a fool I was.)

Being assertive and believing in my worth is another lesson to learn as a Trucker. Trick is to be Assertive, but sweet. Or as I head the the guys in the garage say when we drove in to get a new tire re-torqued,,' its not that someone’s an *******, but that we’re the kind of ******* which people might like.' (something to that effect.)

I’m not sure I will get a job on the coast. In fact, I received an omen which tells me I wont. But I need a year in basic driving, so maybe then I will be good enough to begin training with the gods of trucking. Perhaps the universe has other plans for me, I am open to anything, we’ll see. I might end up living in Kamloops, or Prince George driving a wood chip truck, staying at a 300 man camp.

This time I will let the teacher teach me.

The 13 Most Dangerous Traffic Situations and How to Survive Them Free for amazon subscribers


Google: “The Smith Method of Driving”


the teachers’ handbook, which is too long to post here, but gives you the idea.:



Page Elements of Good Driving 1 Space, Time and Visibility 3 Collision Avoidance Techniques 1. Eye lead-time – look ahead 4 2. Scan for the Hazards – See the whole picture 5 3. Direction of intended travel – is the way clear? 6 4. Communicate – eye contact – be seen 6 5. Lane Selection – plan your moves in advance 6 6. Billboards – large vehicles 7 7. Space Cushion – room to move 7 8. Following distance – 3 second rule 8 9. Braking points – cover the brakes 8 10. Point of commitment – stale green lights 9 11. Left-right checks at intersections – don’t rely on traffic lights 9 12. Stop line-crosswalk – consider pedestrians 10 13. Space at stops – protect your front 10 14. 3 count before moving off – no grand prix starts 10 15. Pace car – more speed – more space 11

0163035001524504905.jpg This is the same road i travelled on at night in a snowstorm when i first arrived in Kamloops. It doesnt quite show the steep cliffs, beacuse this is a pullout. But now I know to listen to my gut. Safe driving feels peaceful and pleasurable in the gut. Slow down to the point where all the observations are taken in and speed up from there. Don't let traffic push you. Learning to hold my space assertively and sweetly.


Operating While Intoxicated

mikemotorbike's Comment
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Mon/Tues/Wed April 23 2018 Instructor wisdom: “The other drivers are just doing their thing.” “It’s all abut the trailer.”

Today we avoided the city and kept on the highway to get comfortable in the seat again after my absence.

Practicing defensive driving/collision avoidance techniques in the car has made my truck driving easier. I enjoy the feeling of security knowing whats around me. I’m looking every few seconds without being reminded.

I’ve noticed the rear view is as interesting as the front. It’s like being in an IMAX movie, my instructor adds. Makes it easier to position the truck in a safe zone. Maybe I’ll see a bare naked lady beside me. Ahhh but that wouldn’t be safe, should be staggered. I’ll have to yell my cel number and let them chase me.

Practiced shifting from 1 to 2 on a lonely hill. Then we tried it at a sloped country intersection. The trick is not be anxious. Like so many things in life, the genius is in the details. Don’t rush it / easy does it.

-Stop farther back from the stop sign. -drive forward Bringing RPM to 17-18, because…..Hill (higher rpm on hill to upshift) -One - and - two. don’t force it, don’t rush it, pause between gears -use the clutch, deeper presses this time, (not a tap tap.) -Shift before you start a turn while going up a hill!

The back pull of the hill added to the pinching of the tandems on the pavement as they turn will stop you dead if you shift while turning. So; shift while moving forward to the middle of the intersection, not during turn.

Also, split gears are made for hills. At least in an 18 speed, where you have the luxury of split 1-4. You don’t need to clutch using split gears, and the shift is fast one-two straight through.

Wave back and smile real friendly like at the trucker you just let get by

I discovered a little while ago I started to enjoy getting up early. I used to be a night *******. Now I look forward to the adventure every day brings. *******.

I’ve left the past behind. You can’t back up in a truck (or in life.) You make yer mistakes and move on. And I’ve made plenty. Everyone is just doing their thing. Forgive and forget, let it go, live and let live, die another day, and keep on truckin’!

I don’t fit in with the Old Guard. I think I relate to the young truckers and they relate to me. After all, we’re both new, haven’t driven for 50 years, don’t know more people than God, didn’t know and party with all the cops, or played hockey and football together growing up. Well, I’ll speak for myself. In any case, we have to keep our mouths shut, our every action pure, toe the line, listen to and learn from the Elder Wisdom, make our mistakes, pay our dues.


Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".


Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".


Operating While Intoxicated

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