My Roehl Training Adventure

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Wild-Bill's Comment
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Today was my first day with the GYCDL training program at Roehl in Marshfield, WI. I had a two week delay in my original planned start date due to some family issues that needed to be worked through. That's all (mostly) resolved now or at least stable for the time being. My recruiter was very understanding and accommodating in working with me on the scheduling change. I appreciated that.

Looks like there are a few folks from the forum in various stages of training with Roehl right now. When I was in research mode, I read about every diary I could get my hands on. I learned a little bit from each and every one. So here goes my version of things.

I got into Marshfield Sunday night. We had just had one of the biggest November snowstorms in the last ten years, so the roads were a little dicey. Once I got in the Hotel was nice, It's a fairly old hotel but clean and well maintained. There are plenty of restaurants and stores nearby. Breakfast was at 6:00 am. A nice assortment of cereals and pastries. Nothing special but not bad. I might pick up some frozen breakfast sandwiches for variety later in the week.

The van arrived at 6:30, attendance roll call was taken and we were off to the terminal in a caravan of cars. Almost everyone brought their own cars. We were shown where to park and headed into the training room. The morning was mostly paperwork and waiting for the physical capacity tests. There are 15 of us, so, it can take a while to get everyone through all of the Tests, pictures, 1-9's, WOTC etc. The waiting was a good time to start reading through the J.J. Keller training manual. The trainers were paying attention to the folks that took the time to read the manual and those that were playing with their phones and commented on those that were using time to their advantage.

One thing I picked up on very early on is to WAIT FOR DIRECTION. The trainers didn't like anyone getting ahead of the paperwork. They wanted everyone on the same page at the same time so they could explain and keep track of what was going on. Anyone turning a page early or filling out a line ahead got a quick correction. I have a feeling that is going to come up often during the next few weeks. Don't assume, don't jump ahead, wait for and follow the directions being given. It's a bit against my nature, but, it's their show, I'm here to learn and the only way to do that is to follow the directions as they're given. Duly noted...

I was terrified about the physical capacity test. I've read several stories of people getting sent home because of it. Well, I think they must have eased up a bit, because this old out of shape guy with no knees made it through with a pass. Not sure how it goes at other companies, but Roehl no longer does the heart rate sample after the tests. They also don't do the crouch or duck walk portions that I had read about. The test now is a machine that measures, shoulder, leg and core strength. I can almost guarantee that if you give 100% effort, you will pass. Everyone in our class passed. It was a simple pass fail, no scoring given, though I would have like to know if I passed by a lot or a little.

Once all of the paperwork & Testing was out of the way it was time for lunch. A decent selection of sandwiches, wraps and salads from a local sandwich shop. It came with chips (or fruit) and a cookie. There is a pop machine, but it only takes cash so plan ahead.

After Lunch, We went through some PowerPoint presentations on expectations, some compliance procedure stuff, Anti harassment etc. The most interesting one was on log books. We were given logbooks to fill out during our training to stay in compliance with the 7 day log rules. We were also issued Gate cards, ice cleats & safety vests.

Overall a good first day. I'm looking forward to getting into the trucks tomorrow afternoon even if it means a lot of standing around in the cold lot.

Oh, and no BBQ sauce with lunch so far, so I can't comment yet on that part.

rofl-3.gifBBQ Sauce Complaint - a classic training diary

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Logbook:

A written or electronic record of a driver's duty status which must be maintained at all times. The driver records the amount of time spent driving, on-duty not driving, in the sleeper berth, or off duty. The enforcement of the Hours Of Service Rules (HOS) are based upon the entries put in a driver's logbook.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

DWI:

Driving While Intoxicated

Delco Dave's Comment
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Thank you for sharing the process with us. I am hoping to get a call from Roehl when I apply this winter and will be following your diary as well as Brandon’s.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Rob T.'s Comment
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I look forward to hearing more as you progress.

Oh, and no BBQ sauce with lunch so far, so I can't comment yet on that part.

rofl-2.gifrofl-2.gifrofl-2.gif

Old School's Comment
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If the Barbeque guy only knew how famous he is in certain circles! He's a classic example of the type people who will never make it in this career.

Wild-Bill's Comment
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Dave, Good luck with your selection process. I learned so much from other diaries because everyone's experience is a bit different. I hope I can live up those who have gone before...

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Wild-Bill's Comment
member avatar

Day 2 in the books and things are getting serious. Maybe it's just my perception, but, it seems like the instructors amped up the pressure a bit today.

The morning was a presentation about the Roehl way, the safe 7 and a big chunk on distracted driving (cell phones). It included a lot of accident video analysis and was very informative. The biggest thing they drove home was the motto that we are "Driven to protect others" in a nutshell, we're responsible not only for the truck and our actions but we're also responsible for saving the general public from themselves by anticipating the silly things they do around a truck. The big theme was to get off the power and get on the brakes before things get hairy. The idea of being responsible for a life changing accident was really driven home. As a side note I learned that the ticket for using a cell phone while driving a CMV is almost $3,000 and a $11,000 fine for the company. That's a handy piece of information to know...

The salad for lunch was very good and filling. I had the best bleu cheese dressing I've had in quite some time. I mean really good. Anyway, After lunch we split up and that's where the pressure seemed to amp up a bit. One group of 8 went to the the simulator to learn shifting while the other 7 went to the shed to learn the pre-trip. We then switched at 3 to learn the other half. My group did the simulator first. The first few including myself did fairly well. I forgot the double clutch a few times and got corrected several times because I wasn't holding the shifter firmly enough. There was not a lot of patience for being told something more than once. Habits are hard to break. The intensity level seemed to ramp up to 11 with a few folks that weren't catching on to the rhythm or were being too rough on the shifter, or just plain not listening to or executing on what they were being told to do. The first few corrections were patient and instructive. After that, the intensity got a bit uncomfortable to watch.

I know we'll all be in that hot seat at some time over the next couple weeks. I keep going back to the main lesson I learned yesterday. Do what your told when your told to do it. Don't anticipate or skip ahead. I need to stay focused in the moment.

The pre trip portion was a little less intense, but the deadly seriousness was definitely driven home. There's a to learn and memorize, But I'm guessing that practicing it twice a day will get us comfortable pretty quickly.

We have 4 training trucks with 4 students each (one has 3). Each of the trainers naturally has a different personality. I was hoping to get on the truck with the one who's personality most closely matched mine. Of course, I was assigned to the truck of the trainer with the personality that is the direct opposite of mine instead. I guess I get a quick lesson on getting along with conflicting personalities in the trucking business. Honestly, It's probably for the best as I will almost certainly learn to break any bad habits with him as He's not going to cut anyone any slack at all. At the end of the day, I'm here to learn to be a safe driver and learn the Roehl way of doing things. Having the instructor with an intensity know that goes all the way up to 11 will be good for me. The other thing that's a bit concerning is that my other three truck mates are the three that had the toughest time in the simulator. I hope that doesn't mean I'm on the remedial truck. I hope it'll give me more time to listen to the instruction over and over rather than being in a truck full of people that don't need as much verbal correction.

Looking forward to getting the trucks rolling tomorrow. Though I'll admit, I'm a bit nervous about being able to keep it all straight in a vehicle that's moving even if it's only on a driving range.

Ok, that's enough for now. I need to go practice my shifting patterns so I don't feel like an idiot tomorrow.

CMV:

Commercial Motor Vehicle

A CMV is a vehicle that is used as part of a business, is involved in interstate commerce, and may fit any of these descriptions:

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
  • Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
  • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards

Double Clutch:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

Cowboy's Comment
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Look forward to following you through your training Wild-Bill. I hope to be there come next June (lots to do until then). Keep us posted.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Wild-Bill's Comment
member avatar

Day 3 down and I got to drive a truck for the first time ever today. It felt great to be behind the wheel!

We started the day with a pre-trip. There is a ton to memorize here. We'll be practicing it in the morning and again after lunch. I will need to practice repeating the proper phrasing in the hotel at night. Between that and the J.J. Keller book. there is plenty to do. This is an all day, all night commitment. Definitely no time to coast. I can see already that the pace is going to separate the men and ladies from the boys and girls.

After the pre-trip, we got to get in and drive. My truck has 4 students. Everyone was nervous and our trainer did a great job of getting us used to the working clutch range and idle shifting through the lower gears. He kept adding in shifting, lane management, space management etc as much as each persons skill and comfort level would allow. One of the 4 hadn't studied the shift pattern the night before and had a very rough time. The instructors don't have a lot of patience for folks that chose not to study. Everyone else progressed pretty well. I feel like I did pretty well other that I have some bad habits to break; Keeping two hands on the wheel, and the double clutching cadence. I keep wanting to go right from gear to gear and forget to release the clutch in neutral. Need to practice double clutching.

After lunch was another pre-trip then more driving. We picked up right where we left off and continued to add more nuance to the shifting and following traffic signs. On my turn in the morning and afternoon, our instructor seemed relaxed and ate an orange. I take that as a good sign that he was comfortable enough to eat while I had his life in my hands. I can see now why everyone struggles with the downshift. I kept forgetting to release the clutch in neutral, so my rev bump was not getting the rpms I needed. Just need to practice that. I had a couple laps that felt great, then on the next lap, my brain would disconnect from my feet and everything was bass akwards. Hopefully tomorrow I can have more good laps and less bad ones. I keep telling myself it's only the first day of driving, but I want to be better now not later.

Apparently, We're hooking to trailers tomorrow and they're hoping to take us on the road Friday if we're ready. Tomorrow is going to be a BIG day. Time to get the books out and study.

Double Clutch:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

Double Clutching:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Wild-Bill's Comment
member avatar

Good luck Cowboy. If you have any questions ask away. I know this was the right choice for me. The company has been great so far. The program is fast paced as I mentioned, But, the training is excellent. I just need to double down and get a little better every day.

Cowboy's Comment
member avatar

Sounds like you're doing great, man. I feel like I'm right there with you. Ain't it funny how you have to double-clutch to pass the test and then probably never do it again....you'll either float gears in a manual or have an automatic. LOL By the way, do you know if Roehl still asks for your preference of a manual or automatic when you get your own truck? I'll drive anything, but I'd really rather have a manual.

I like the sound of the pacing of the school. I'm an Air Force veteran and there's nothing like the fast-paced, learn-it-or-else type of training like that. The less idle time and let up the better for you to keep the momentum up. Good luck, buddy.

AND thanks for the positive feed-back and advice.

Float Gears:

An expression used to describe someone who is shifting gears without using the clutch at all. Drivers are taught to "Double Clutch" or press and release the clutch twice for each gear shift. If you're floating gears it means you're simply shifting without using the clutch at all.

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