Safety Class

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Buying the Ninja
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Safety Class
My First Ride

I PASSED MY CLASS!!!

I was a walk-in to the motorcycle safety class offered by the State of Ohio this weekend (April 2001). There was one no-show, and I got his spot. (He did eventually show up, 25 minutes late, but it was too late.)

The classroom part was a piece of cake: they told us stuff, showed us a video about the stuff, told us what was in the video, and then summarized the topic. Repeat for each topic. Oh--and then read the book that comes with the class as well. Summarize again before test, asking for class responses to harder questions that are about to be on test. Take written test. Ace test.

The driving part, on the other hand was hard. I'd never been on a motorcycle before, so it wasn't easy to get the hang of things--I didn't even know the throttle from the brake from the clutch until they showed us pictures in Friday's class!

So, when we started riding on Saturday (and I switched to the smallest bike they had!) (Smallest as defined by seat height, not engine cc's), it was all new to me. There were experienced riders in the class, but everyone was riding on a permit, not on a motorcycle endorsement. We started at the very beginning--walk the bike, straddle walk the bike, the steps to turning it on, finding all the controls, front brake, back brake, clutch, first gear only, having someone push us while we were in neutral so we could be sure we could stop, riding around the perimeter of the range finally. We learned about riding around curves, about using both brakes, about shifting, about make sharp turns at low speeds, how to increase lean when increasing tightness of corners, etc etc etc.

The exercises did not come easily to me.  They repeated each exercise until everyone (or almost everyone) in the class had it (or almost had it). I was generally one of those last people, so I didn't get to repeat the exercises multiple times correctly--it was time to move on to the next one.

I almost didn't come back on Sunday--I figured I wasn't going to pass anyway! But I stuck it out, and the instructor worked with me on one of the exercises I was having trouble with over our lunch break. And I PASSED! In fact, losing 20 points was passing, and I only lost 10--wasn't even close! And I successfully did the counterweave without knocking over a single cone--and I hadn't managed that in practice even once.

So, later this week, I'll go to the drivers license station and get a new license issued with the "M" on it (and the corrective lenses restriction removed). (In the state of Ohio, passing this course qualifies one for the "M" endorsement.)

One of the instructors was telling about a previous student he'd had, who said that after taking the course once, she felt qualified to ride in a parking lot. That's about how I feel. So, I'm checking the schedule to take it again--I think going through the exercises again, with the instructors there to critique and help me improve my skills will help me feel street ready.

And today, my arms are _really_ tired, and I'm a bit saddle sore. I guess I'll get used to it!

For those who are interested, either because they have an interest in acquiring a motorcycle, or because they've taken a similar course and wonder what I took: This course is called "Motorcycle Ohio, Rider Skills and Safety", and Ohio calls it the "Basic Rider Course".   It is sponsored by the State of Ohio, and various sub-organizations (Parks & Rec in my county, but other orgs do it too). They use the MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation) curriculum for the workbooks and video, as well as the exercises. Some additional exercises and information are added to help students prepare for the Ohio test (i.e. Ohio helmet laws, Ohio minors on motorcycles, Ohio insurance, etc.)

So, I'm looking forward to doing some practicing between now and when I take the class again, but definitely feel that

1) The class was well worth my time (Fri: 6-10, Sat: 8-6, Sun 8-4)

2) The class was well worth my money (mostly taxpayer money, students are charged $25, and it's free for minors, who have to take it to get an "M" endorsement).

3) I'd recommend this class, or a similar one, to anyone who is considering starting to ride a motorcycle.

4) I'd recommend this class, or a similar one, to anyone who used to ride and is considering taking it up again.

5) I'd recommend this class, or a similar one, to anyone who already rides, but is open to the possibility of improving his or her skill set.

6) Even though I passed the class, I feel that it helps me realize how much improvement I need to have sufficient control of a motorcycle for any challenging riding conditions, and to help me understand what my limitations are!


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