If you’ve known me for more than 10 minutes, you’ll know that riding my motorcycle is one of my passions. You might also think I’ve ridden my entire life. Not so- I’ve only been riding since 1997.
My entry into the motorcycle riding world was purely by accident. One of our agency customers had a bike that he really wanted to sell, and my father said it was a really good deal. So, I bought it. Granted, I knew nothing about motorcycles, including how to ride. But hey, what woman can resist a “sale?”
After the initial excitement of buying the bike wore off, I thought, “Crap, now that I’ve got it, what do I do with it?” Um, perhaps ride it Carrie?? Through some research, my dad discovered an organization called Motorcycle Ohio who’s main goal is to teach people how to ride a motorcycle. At the time they offered a course called “Riding & Street Skills”- now it’s called the “Basic Rider Course.” For $25, you got 2 trained instructors, classroom instruction complete with workbook and video, and hands-on instruction using the facility’s own motorcycles. All you had to furnish was your own riding clothes (long pants, long sleeves, boots and helmet) and have a temporary motorcycle permit.
So, with some hesitation (seriously, how good could it be for $25?), my dad and I signed up for the class. Boy, was I wrong about what you’d get for $25. Our class took place at the Honda Rider Education Center in Troy, Ohio, which is an amazing facility. Plenty of space, top-notch classroom and a huge paved area for practicing our manuevers, referred to as “the range.”
The best part, however, was the instructors. I admit, I was intimidated by the two older male instructors at first. My mind had developed a full-blown Broadway production that they would talk down to me, use terms I didn’t know, make me feel dumb, blah, blah, blah. So not the case. They were kind, patient and excellent educators. Even when I dumped the bike, they encouraged me to get back up and try again. And let me tell you, you would much rather dump one of their bikes going 10 mph, than your own, on the highway, at 55.
We started with classroom activities, then proceeded to the range. The class is designed to start everyone at Square One. You learn the basics, such as the parts of the motorcycle and how they work, then proceed to actually riding the motorcycle, shifting gears, throttle control, turning and stopping. We even learned how to ride over something (for us, it was a log) in case we encountered an object in the road and couldn’t avoid it. So not only did you learn how to ride the motorcycle, you learned how to stay safe while riding. I still remember the acronym SIPDE- Scan, Identify, Predict, Decide & Execute. Use it everytime I get on my bike.
Upon completion of the class, you received a certificate and hopefully had developed your skills well enough to pass the BMV’s maneuverability test and receive your motorcycle endorsement. Although it took me a few tries, I must say that without the class, there is probably no way I would have ever gotten my endorsement. The training was just too valuable. Besides the obvious benefits of learning the “right” way to ride, many motorcycle insurance companies also give a discount upon completion of a valid safety course. Bonus!
In the years since I’ve taken the class, there have been some changes, including the ability to receive your endorsement upon successful completion of the course (no longer have to take a separate maneuverability test). And yes, it’s still only $25. If you’re an Ohio resident, you can check out the complete description of the course here. You can also view a course schedule, locations and register online- here’s the quick link.
This program is offered nationwide, so for those non-Ohio residents, you can look up a schedule and cost for your state via the Motorcycle Safety Foundation website. If you’ve been on the fence about riding or just want to refresh your skills, you’ll find no better class than the Basic Rider Course. It taught me how to ride, how to have respect for the road and ultimately, opened my world to the wonderful experience of life on a motorcycle.
Has anyone else taken the class or a variation of it and want to share their experience? I would love to hear your thoughts and opinion. Thanks for reading.