The Motorcycle Safety Foundation Basic Rider course:
Last weekend Monica and I took the MSF BRC. On Friday night we headed down to Richmond Virginia to stay with her brother at VCU, just a jump skip and throw away from our course the next day. Unfortunately we were unable to stay there in the end and it took us awhile to find a hotel with an available room. We only managed to get 6 hours of sleep in a very uncomfortable bed.
Saturday morning found Monica and myself in a classroom at DMV headquarters in downtown richmond. Of a class of 12, only 10 showed up and we were seperated into two groups.
After meeting our first instructor, Doc Brooks, we introduced ourselves to the people at our table and discussed our experience, why we wanted to ride and what we wanted to ride. Next we introduced someone to the rest of the class. Obviously everyone wanted a sport bike, most a liter bike. The exceptions were myself, Monica and two other women in the class.
The classroom portion was fairly simple. As a group we would look up the answers to a list of provided questions that was divided between the group. We highlighted them, then shared what we found with the class. As we finished each section we watched a video and discussed it afterward. We got most of the way through the book before going out for our first range session.
At the range we met our other rider coach, Glen Jones. Glen was a colorful, bearded, living the life harley rider. He walked with a cane due to a car accident from a year prior and was full of great advice and good spirit. Glen and Doc went about setting up the range as we started arriving, then they took their road king and heritage special respectively and ran about the course. It was incredible watching these two old men dance their bikes around the course.
When everyone arrived we got our bikes. Since Monica was relatively new to motorcycling she was given one of the 7 kawasaki eliminators. I, on the other hand, was given an old nighthawk with dual drum brakes since I was a ridercoach student and therefore a better rider. They only had 2 suzuki gz 250's, 2 honda rebels, 1 nighthawk and 7 eliminators to choose from. I wished they had a ninja, or a dual sport like their website indicated, but those must have been on the other range (They have two ranges so they can run two classes at the same time).
Then we got started. Even though I've been on bikes for awhile the beginning exercises on learning to use a clutch and balancing a motorcycle were still fun.
It became apparent in the first 2 exercises that 2 people were going to have a rough time. They kept stalling and had trouble learning the concepts. One was the g/f of a guy there taking the class b/c he was taking it. The other was a deputy sherrif who had never used a stick before. By the end of the day they were the only ones to drop their bikes and they definately slowed down the exercises to the point that we weren't learning the intended information.
The deputy actually gave us a scare part way through the day when she gunned the throttle while navigating a turn. I heard a whistle, stopped and turned off my bike and caught her on the other side of a curve with both of the rider coaches next to her. She got right back on the bike and she smiled all day long even after going down. That said, she was the only one to not come back the next day.
After getting through 9 exercises the first day we called it in and had one last peptalk from our coaches before heading out for the night. Another hotel incident later left Monica and I in a Courthouse sleeping soundly. We would have stayed closer but two hotels were booked and the other couldn't tell us where it was located
"We're at 1600 Robin Road"
Me- "Can you tell me how to get there"
Her- "We're at 1600 Robin Road"
Me- "Is it off 64, 95, near any landmarks?"
Her "We're off 95... I think"
No wonder they had vacancies.
The next day was fun, we did the rest of the exercises which were mainly of the fun and not challenging variety but they did hone our skills. We then took our skills test and the results were incredible. Everyone there past.
One of the guys who stalled all day, never did the figure 8 right or stopped on time managed to accrue only 1 point. The box was the most incredible thing. While coming back from the second u-turn he almost ran over the line and was ridiculously off balance... so he lifted his inside leg straight out and barely managed to ride the line. It was simply awe inspiring. Think cirque de solei.
I ended up with 3 points for not stopping in time. Doc later told me that was because of the dual drum brakes, and that they weren't even good dual drums. None the less, my ego was bruised.
After we passed the range we went back to the classroom for our last section on alcohol then took the written exam. Again we all passed. It was definately a fun weekend.
Monica and I both got different things out of it. Monica learned alot more about riding and she was great to watch. The instructors kept asking me how long Monica had been riding because she was taking to it like a duck to water. They seemed a bit surprised to hear how little she'd been riding.
I got an entirely different experience. After each exercise I did get some critique if they found something wrong with my form, but most of the time they gave me tips about how to run the class and what to look for in students. One of the main things I heard my first day was "There's no way you're not having fun as sweet as that was, but try to do it slower at student speed. You don't want to tempt a new rider to do an exercise that fast"
Some of the best advice I've heard came from these guys. Though my favorite was when we were talking about animals in your path and what to do. There were alot of the basics, slow then speed up and don't kick dogs, avoid horses/cows/deer etc and the best "If it fits on a plate, hit it"
So that was the BRC. It was fun, easy going and lots of people who had never ridden or were horrible the first day past. Hopefully the ones that looked horrible and still needed their parking lot practice don't follow up on their plans and jump on GSXR 1000's.
I didn't hear it but apparently Monica overheard two of the guys talking about the sportbikes. They were saying that sportbikes were safer because they were built better, had better suspensions, had better tires and were more reliable.