CDL Range: Week 1 D-u-n-n

CDL Range: Week 1 D-u-n-n

Wow, so Week 1 on The Range is complete! As a short back ground if you didn’t catch my first post from days 1 & 2 on The Range, I am practice driving in a 2011 Volvo Tractor with a 10-speed manual transmission and I have 2 cab-mates and 1 instructor.


If you’re keen to see how the week turned out, read on (or listen to the audio transcription by clicking play below)


Week 1 on the range Top 5 descriptors:

  1. Awesome
  2. Exhilarating
  3. Exhausting
  4. Challenging
  5. Edifying

The instructor seamlessly removed that gap I previously described of our 3 personality & learning types, and by the end of the week we all had a turn driving out on a local state road!

Wednesday we were introduced to downshifting, and did more off-set parking. Downshifting in an un-synchronized manual transmission has a middle step, and what a curve it threw into the mix.  I know I’ll be laughing by end of next week, at how such a tiny extra step caused such a turmoil to my rhythm!  HaHaHa…  So on a non-synchronized transmission, (double clutching) when you down shift, in between you need to rev the rpm’s to get the sync correct.  So where double clutching during up-shifting you “clutch it out” / “clutch it in”, now you “clutch it out” / Rev it appropriately / “Clutch it in”.

Yes; you who drive these tractors know we don’t even really need the clutch at all, but that’s getting ahead of our noo-b selves… let us pass the road test first…  haha

So that little added rev component was enough to toss me way off-rhythm.  Not only is it an addition, but the actual rpm’s you rev it to are important, so it’s a timing AND proper revving technique. Over-revving or under-revving equally inhibit your ability to get into the proper gear.

Well, even though none of us were perfect with the downshift, Thursday we hit the road!  sound frightening?  Well, if you were in-cab and saw the moderately tempered 20 mile stretch we drove, you’d see how easily the instructor could help us correct any downshift issues as we went. After all, we all knew where the brakes were by now (haha) which takes care of hitting anything in front and we have that ever so lovely *huge* yellow “STUDENT DRIVER” banner announcing ourselves to all those behind us.


Awesome & Exhilarating!

So… the first time I went out of the parking lot road onto Route 11 Northbound, was very exhilarating!  I got to the light at the end of the range’s road, and swung one of those wide rights (fish-hook style) successfully clearing the curb! Yaye! Continuing onward, I practiced downshifting when speed zones dropped, and precautionary downshifting as I was approaching lights.




For those who ride motorcycles it’s the same precautionary downshifting we do, and kind of crawl in 1st, hoping the light turns green by the time we get there so we don’t have to full stop and put a foot down.



So here’s a strange downshifting quirk I hope to correct next week: I’m doing the clutch-out / rev / clutch-in, but for some goofy reason my foot goes back to the accelerator again. “Derp”.  Like… why am I doing that? I would never do that in a car or on a bike!  haha.  Downshift, then accelerate? LOL.  Anyway, again, just getting used to that middle step of the rev it into gear; it tossed me a bit of a loop, once I re-adjust to that timing I’ll be fine.  I declared “Oh Yeah, I’m *so* in” …. 

Well….after about 10 miles of getting an initial feel for it, and being on a nice long cushy length of road (no lights, etc) I declared (kind of under my breath) “Oh Yeah, I’m *so* in” which is an american idiom to convey that I’m lovin’ what I’m experiencing.  YES! I love being behind the wheel of Big Rig. :0).  That day I drove 20 miles or so northbound to a small local truck stop, and a cab mate drove it back (southbound) to the range.  So, on my NB route I made the initial right turn out of the side road, and then into the truck stop, which was a left turn from a median turn lane, and also parked it in-between (just a pull-in not a back-in) two rigs in the lot.  So I got to practice those wide turns :0)

I practiced gently accelerating to feel what it was like climbing hills in that big ol’ tractor and trailer, letting off the accelerator as I crested the top.  I certainly need more practice on the downshifting, and need to have a serious talk with the 7th Gear Gremlin who keeps hiding that gear on me ::::sigh:::: haha.


Exhaustion and Challenges…

You may think these two descriptors from above relate to the course of study.  Nope; they relate to my introverted personality type.  One day I actually came home, fell asleep by 16:00 and didn’t wake up til 03:00 the next morning.  If you’re an introvert, you will not need any explanation!  I am in a truck cab for about 8 hours (minus a lunch break) with 3 other people.  That’s tough on me.  I make adjustments throughout the day to help myself get through as best as possible.  I’ll slide way far back in the cab bunk, attempting to create a bit of distance, or maybe stand up for the same reason.  I create opportunities to be in my own space yet still be in proximity as everyone.  I’m very quiet in-cab.  I’m not able to fully engage with anyone other than when the instructor speaks directly to me, lest I ‘open the door’ for the extroverts to bombard me with comments and questions.  They are just doing what comes naturally to them; nothing wrong with that whatsoever.  It’s my responsibility to take care of my own self.

If you’re an introvert, check out Quiet Revolution.  Tips I’ve picked up from Susan Cain truly help me take care of myself social situations.  She authored two books:

    1. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
    2. Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts

I’m a social introvert.  I handle certain socializing well in short spurts, so much so that some are surprised to learn how introverted I truly am.  I perform very well during presentations and speaking to groups, but drop from exhaustion after.  I will not go into large crowds alone, and am perfectly content to spend a week or more alone in my own space without any need to speak to another person.  Perfect solo OTR Big Rig personality type, don’t ya see?  :0)


Well, off to cook my baby red dill potatoes and do truck school stuff — researching companies to apply to, homework assignments to complete, notes to review…. back on The Range tomorrow.

Oh ya, plus edit the 500 pix I shot this weekend at the VA Horse Center.  I have a few days to complete all those edits, so let’s hope I git’er done.

Cheers & Clix, and CDL Shifts,




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