CDL on the Range

CDL on the Range

To listen to my recorded version, (instead of reading) press play below:


I’m posting out of order, (Only I can tell, coz I’m the one with the draft on my dashboard haha). The post laying in draft is the one that will have my 1st three Vlog Posts from my “Truckin with BlueJ” YouTube Channel”.  I filmed the 3rd episode yet didn’t edit it yet.  I wanted to get this post out though, coz it’s photos/text only.



I have now completed Day 2 on the Practice Range of CDL School.  I am enrolled in the Blue Ridge Community College CDL-A Course. It is a 5 week course and I will have my license when I graduate in February.

Kiddie Pool!

I am learning on a 2011 Volvo 10-Speed manual transmission tractor.  At the range there is a far off empty lot looks about an acre or so, just big and roughly square where we simply go round and round practicing shifting up to 6th gear.  Take off in 3rd, go through 4-5-6.  Those who already drive manual transmissions on their 4 wheeler understand the take off in 3rd concept.  So, I have two other classmates in the truck, and the instructor.  The class normally, I think, only puts two in a truck, but there were a few nuances with the make up of this class, and I ended up in a truck of 3.  I can tell you I see the benefits of only having 2 students in a truck. Most of all I wish it were just me, but being as it’s only day three today I’m still ‘going with the flow’. I may start to holler by tomorrow, though. My truck mates range in skill level from slow learner to medium learner to fast learner.  We all did improve on the 2nd day though.  I know my friends won’t be surprised that I am the “fast learner” in this mix.  This point was clearly emphasized to me yesterday when I was so bored, and kept going for 7th gear without asking, just coz i couldn’t take it anymore, (I missed it the first time and hit 9th though–wooops), and finally said to my instructor “why does it feel so weird going around this turn in 6th gear?” to which he replied “Because you’ve outgrown the kiddie pool” and smiled. I do spend a lot of time just sitting quiet in the cab as my cab mates practice, 1 of them struggling more than another.

I will tell you a tractor 10-speed transmission is not a synchronized transmission like in a smaller road vehicle. (double vs. single clutch). Plus the transmission has low and high, which are selected on the gear shift.  Low is R-1-2-3-4-5, then you select high to hit 6-7-8-9-10.  This is why we go to 6th in the kiddie pool so we can practice that selection methodology.  you can move the selector at any time in gear, it will only engage high or low as it passes through the ‘neutral zone’.  Meaning you can be in 5th, and pre-select high on the gear shift, while in 5th gear & it won’t toss you into 10th.

Study habits & Muscle Memory

Day 1 night I sat in a chair at home after class about an hour and just practiced over and over syncing my double-clutch timing, to build up muscle memory.  I also re-watched a great video on 10-speed shifting, these 2 pieces are what made me ‘outgrow the kiddie pool’ on Day 2.

Day 2 we started the off-set back up (I already have the straight back up nailed), so I’m already setting myself up for being edgy today that I will have to sit in the cab while these other two try to grasp 3-4-5-6, & straight backing, while all I want to be doing is practicing down shifting, offset backing (which we he did let me start yesterday), parallel park, and get headed out on the road.  But I sense my instructor is acutely aware of that, so let’s see how they handle the huge gap of progresses among us 3.

Cab mates vs. Team Mates

I also wanted to touch lightly on this topic. Being an introvert, on day 1 in the classroom when the Course Director told us about how there would probably be more than the usual 2 in the the trucks, he mentioned that it’s not necessarily a bad thing coz it could facilitate learning by watching others’ mistakes.  I can see that point, but that’s not my point here in this blurb, lol.  My point is that being an introvert, I heard the words exactly how I wrote them here.  It’s a “peer learning” type process.  One of my cab mates though, being more extroverted and a different overall personality type interpreted this as “TEAM” learning not peer learning.  This person now is operating under the impression that we are supposed to “help teach each other” as a team, which is definitely NOT what we should ever be doing.  I paid to take a course form an instructor NOT a peer noo-b and certainly not one who learns differently, and at a different pace than I.  That’s not saying they are worse, or I am better; I am pointing out that we learn differently, and have different personality types.

So for instance: The 1st time on day 1 that this cab mate asked me a question, I directed them immediately to ask the instructor, and stated that I did not want to mis-interpret their question, nor give them any type of false information, so please just direct all questions to the instructor.  I know they were taken aback by that, because the 2nd incident I really had to be more forceful. The situation was on Day 2. We were the only two in the cab and I was in the driver’s seat studying to memorize my in cab pre-trip procedure, first they asked please say out loud what you are doing so I can watch, and hear. To which I gave a simple, yet firm “I am just doing my thing in my own way here to learn as I do”.  To which I then tried to tune them out and proceed, only to be interrupted as I reached for the brake releases with a “No, I don’t think we are supposed to do that”.  I had to be more firm with this person. This time I spoke clearer and held a huge palm outward to their face, to cut them off and silence them, “PLEASE, Do Not make any comments while I am working this”. To which the reply was “But we are supposed to be working as a team to help each other”.  I did not respond any more, and in a few moments they decided to step out of the cab. Whether they ever realize the difference between peer learning and learning as a team is not up to me. The 3rd cab mate lets them get away with their constant interrupting and correcting, and I actually had to remove MYself at one point from the cab, because they were in the front and just as I noted above the noo-b 1 trying to teach noo-b 2, and saying “No we don’t do that , the other saying yes we do, the one still saying “No, are you sure?” the other saying “Yes”, this goes back and forth with the one trying to teach flipping madly through their instruction sheet to find out, finally figures out oh yes you’re right,  and mutters an “Oh I see.. yes, I’m Sorry”.

All I could do was picture this scene from Ocean’s 11:  HAHA  (I’m Matt Damon) stated I need to use the restroom and got the heck outta that cab. The instructor had gone off to retrieve some items for us from the shack, which is how I was left alone in the cab with these 2.


Anyway, Cheers and Clix and 10-speed shifts!



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