20080616

M is for Motorcycle Endorsement

Training Wheels
Training Wheels, originally uploaded by JaseMan.

Hello. I'm JB el JB. I once wrecked two motorcycles in the span of a week and followed up those crashes with a near miss on a scooter two weeks later. Now you know why my mom is not digging the fact that I bought the hog.

The key thing to realize is that I'd never ridden a motorcycle prior to renting the Ducati in Australia. The short story is that a colleague, who had a bike at home, suggested that we rent bikes and ride the coast line. I rode for six plus hours without incident prior to failing to make it through a left turn and ended up hitting the side of a mountain.

Motorcycle riding is not rocket science or so I thought. "It's just like driving a stick in a car, but you shift on the handlebars." That's true, but the real issue is cornering as I demonstrated during my tenure down under.

I knew that I needed to take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation BasicRider Course, which is what happened this weekend. The class was three hours in the class room on Friday night followed by about five hours riding each day on Saturday and Sunday.

The students were a diverse mix. A mother/son team was seated at my table along with a Nigerian guy named Abe who was pretty hilarious. The 20 other students were black, white and Latin. They rode (or wanted to ride) Harleys, scooters and crotch rockets.

The class room portion was cake (I got a 100% on the written test), but the real challenge was the practical part of the class. The instructors split us into two sections of 12 students with whom we'd ride over the next two days. We progressed from idling across the parking lot to maneuvering through swerves and curves at 20 MPH.

Some folks did well; some did not. The double u-turn drill was a daunting task. So were the braking drill and the 130 degree curve. The mom from my table and a another lady seemed to be having a contest about who could drop their motorcycle more often. In the end, the other lady "won" by wrecking during the final evaluation. Fortunately, the only pain she encountered was a bruised pride and a failure in the class.

In case you are wondering, I went out for a spin after class and avoided an accident thanks to my much improved cornering skills. I didn't panic when the oncoming car stopped in the apex of the turn. Instead, I just Slowed, Looked, Pushed & Rolled...and Pushed some more. Take the class and you'll know what I'm talking about.

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