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Not exactly the three ‘R’s

May 11, 2010
Spring in Wisconsin

Photos by Karen

Saturday, May 8, 2010—The day of the Basic Rider Course had finally arrived, and this is how it looked when I was ready to leave for Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, where the class was to be held.

We started at 8 a.m. and spent three hours going through the manual and watching videos. I wasn’t expecting to ride the first day but at noon we were out in the parking lot.

Our instructor was a retired army officer, motorcycle racer and owner of a small bike shop in a nearby town. He was also, as it turned out, a man who had the patience of a saint.

Our instructor

We spent five hours riding Sunday and it was my first time ever being in control(?) of a motorcycle. We went through nine exercises starting with familiarization with the motorcycle, using the friction zone, stopping, starting, shifting and stopping then on to more difficult exercises.

I have to say, it was a grueling experience and was one time when I hadn’t overestimated the difficulty of something I was about to do. It was extremely hard for me to learn how to use the motorcycle controls (very different from my Honda SH150i) and to learn safety techniques at the same time. Eight hours of intense concentration left me truly exhausted.

School bikes

Sunday we again started at 8 a.m. and after 3 hours of classroom time and an hour break headed back to the parking lot for the final five hours of the course. We practiced eight more exercises, then had our test. Our instructor found himself using all his skills as a drill sergeant yet still managed to be encouraging.

The intensity of the past two days has entirely wiped me out—but I passed! I now have that precious waiver and although all of us who passed won’t have to take the driving test we will have to take another written test at the DMV and then show them our waivers to get that precious M on our licenses.

The course was valuable but I feel it would have been more beneficial to me if I would have been able to ride a scooter. I spent a lot of time and energy trying to learn how to ride a motorcycle and that took away from the time I wanted to spend learning everything else.

I feel pretty good that I was able to hang in there and complete the course. As I think about all we learned in that short time I find that I am looking at the road and riding my scooter in a different, more observant way.

Now it’s time to get out and practice, practice, practice while watching out for logging trucks, bears, and deer. Favicon

  1. May 11, 2010 11:41 am

    Congratulations Karen! I too underestimated just how exhausting the course would be. I came home Saturday night and collapsed onto my couch. We had two instructors during my course and despite it all, everything moved right along pretty quickly. The written test was a breeze but I feel like everyone got pretty nervous during the riding evaluation. I got so nervous I gave the bike too much throttle coming out of the ‘U-Turn’ box and did a wheelie haha. The instructors just requested I refrain from doing any more wheelies during the exam as they laughed.

    Despite having to take it on a motorcycle instead of my scooter like you did, I feel like I built a strong foundation in the course. It definitely helps you get ahead of the game before you get out on the streets. It also feels great walking into the DMV and getting in the express line to have your M added to your license.

  2. Karen permalink
    May 11, 2010 12:25 pm

    Thanks Chad. When I went out on my scooter yesterday afternoon I realized that I actually had picked up more than I thought. I did a lot of reading about the rules of riding and knew it “by the book” but on the road I could see that the class had helped me interpret what I read and put it to use. For example “looking into the curve”. I thought I was doing that but could see I wasn’t looking far enough. We had an instructor and he had an assistant which also kept things moving. Our DMV is only open on Fridays and I’ll be out of town this Friday so will have to wait another 10 days to get my license. It seems like a long time.

  3. May 11, 2010 3:29 pm

    Yeah I think the class definitely exposed some of the skills that require continual practice. Lane positioning in curves, applying the right amount of push on the grips while maneuvering and especially the one thing we all heard several times on the riding course “TURN YOUR HEAD.”

    You really must live somewhere remote if they’re only open on Fridays ha ha. That might be a blessing in disguise. I arrived at my small town DMV when they opened, got in the express line and still had to wait over 2 hours.

  4. Itsuke permalink
    May 12, 2010 5:16 pm

    I too feel it would have been better if one has the option to do the course on a scooter.

  5. May 13, 2010 8:06 am


    congrats on your “M” endorsement. May you have many years of trouble free, incident free riding. We look forward to your scooting adventures

    Wet Coast Scootin

  6. Jack Riepe permalink
    May 15, 2010 7:55 am

    Dear Karen:

    So did you take the course in the snow?

    It was 36º and raining when I took the basic riders course (Riders’ Edge) at the local Harley dealers. The instructor told us (Leslie and I) that this was a great opportunity to demonstrate just how far you could lean a motorcycle on a wet road in perfect confidence.

    Congratulations on getting your “M” endorsement.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  7. Karen permalink
    May 16, 2010 2:41 pm

    Jack, Fortunatrly for me that snow in the picture was gone by noon the next day when we started riding. Great to have it done with and the weather is great now.

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