Friday, June 25, 2010

My Motorcycle Safety Course.....

Today Hubby and I rode our motorcycles to South Carolina for my family reunion. I'm not sure quite how I talked him into A) coming to the reunion; and B) riding our motorcycles over here in the 100-degree heat.

Ironically, it was four years ago today that I completed my motorcycle safety course and qualified for my license. Don't ask me how I remember the date - I'm freaky like that.

The course took place over an entire weekend, Friday night from 6:00 to 10:00, Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 to 5:00. There was a classroom portion on Friday and part of Saturday, then we got on little 125cc motorcycles (provided by the course providers).

It was an intense experience. I had rarely been on a motorcycle, and I had certainly never driven one, except for a little mini-bike when I was about 11 or 12, and THAT little act of rebellion got my legs striped.

There were 12 people in our class. One guy showed up Friday night for the classroom portion and never returned. You don't get one cent of your $250 back even if you never touch a motorcycle. I've always wondered what happened to him.

I think there were four women in our class (although there may have only been three). I was the only woman who passed the course. One dropped her bike during the final test, and that is an automatic failure. One missed too many points during the road (parking lot) test. Truth be known, if I had missed ONE MORE POINT, I would have failed also. Yikes!

The first thing they had us do on the bikes was simply release the clutch and allow the throttle to pull the bike across the parking lot. In a straight line. With our feet still on the pavement. One guy couldn't do that part. I heard from one of the other people in the course that the guy had never ridden a BICYCLE. He could not keep the bike upright just to idle across the parking lot. The instructors worked with him and worked with him, and he couldn't do it. They finally had to ask him to leave. I felt so sorry for him, walking away carrying his expensive new helmet.

Another guy couldn't figure out the throttle situation. If there's one on the right, what does the handle on the LEFT do? (Nothing.) I guess there MIGHT be a situation where you would need two throttles, but I'm not mechanically inclined enough to know what it is. He would rev the throttle up way too far and then release the clutch way too fast, nearly popping wheelies every time he took off. I don't think he meant to. He also dropped his bike during the road portion of the course, so he failed. I hope either he gets better, or I never happen to be on the road with him at the same time.

One of the things I was pretty sure would fail me was making a u-turn in a box. There were painted lines in the parking lot, a little larger than a parking spot, and we were required to turn the bike in a u-turn without going over the lines. I just couldn't get that. I worked and worked, the instructors spent a little extra time with me, and every time I tried it, I would be waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay over there in the parking lot and the instructor would be screaming "Where are you GOING?" I fretted and fretted about that part of the test.

When the time came, though, by some miracle I just took off and made those damn u-turns flawlessly. The things I DID get points deducted for were generally involved with going too slowly for the required skill. Hey, I was trying to be EXTRA SAFE, and they docked points for it.

I did pass, though, and I'm glad I took the course. Some of the skills they taught became ingrained in my brain, and I practice them every time I ride. Both brakes, outside-inside-outside in curves (or is it inside-outside-inside?), rise off the saddle a little when going over railroad tracks or other bumps, all four fingers on the clutch and brake handles.

Hubby has been riding for years, and when Georgia started requiring motorcycle licenses, he could have been grandfathered in. He wasn't riding at the time, though, so he had to go to the DMV and take the road test. He got a permit for a few weeks and practiced, then he went to take the test. He was just like me - one more point deducted, and he would have failed.

I sure would have liked to be smug.

1 comment:

Maggie said...

I think it's awesome that you have your own bike, and that you took a course to learn to ride it. You rock.