For the past two and a half days, he’s been studying hard at the local college who run a motorcycle licensing course. From learning basics such as how to mount the bike (did you know there’s an etiquette to it? Always get on from the kickstand side) to doing emergency stops and swerves, they put him through his paces on a 200 cc Suzuki motorcycle. (No, it’s not his bike, it’s one supplied by the college as part of the course. He didn’t get to bring it home. He wants a bigger one. Oy!)
When he came home yesterday, he said he spent the first half of the day terrified. And then he got the wind in his face and realized he had control of the bike and didn’t want to stop.
There were forty participants in his class. Of all ages. From a 16 year old who didn’t look more than 12, to a 75 year old man. Equally mixed between men and women. And the course runs every weekend spring to late fall. I never realized there were so many bike enthusiasts in the area.
The students started off in the classroom Friday night. On Saturday they got their first chance to actually get on a bike. From learning how to balance the motorcycle while a partner pushed them (with no engine running – just like a youngster learning to ride a bicycle). Then they had to ride straight and do a turn (still no engine.) Then they got to start their engine and had to learn how to work a choke, the brakes and the clutch.
It’s VERY important that you remember to put your motorcycle back in neutral if you stall out. One lady forgot her bike was in first gear when she stalled out and accidentally turned the throttle as she was reaching for the auto-start button. The bike took off. She went air-borne. Cement. Hard. Ouch! (But I have to give her credit, she got back on her bike and continued riding after a few minutes. And she passed her test today, too.)
Anyway, the instructors had them doing circles around cones, inside and out. Then they’d progress to figure eights. And then they’d ride with others bikers (instructors) intersecting them on their bikes – get this – flipping them off and trash talking them to distract them!
This is Guitar Hero taking the second last test of the day – the guy in the red shirt is pretending to be a car stalled out in a lane. GH had to ride up to him at speed, and then swerve around him (and the cones) in the direction the instructor pointed (the direction was random and would only be signalled at the last moment.) He had to do emergency stops, to take corners following a specific white painted line without straying outside of the lines and stop at exactly the right point.
In other words, they had to work for their licence. And rightly so. Because it scares the heck out of me thinking he can now buy a bike and drive out in traffic. Am I scared that he won’t be a good driver? (Oops, excuse me, motorcyclists are not referred to as drivers, but riders.) No. I’m scared of the other drivers out there who are maniacs. Like the truck who ran a red light at our corner yesterday and just about hit my car. My car would have been crunched pretty badly. A motorcyclist? I shudder to think what would have happened.
Motorcycle Helmet: $110
Motorcycle Course: $300
Motorcycle Licence: Priceless (To Guitar Hero. To me? Terrifying!)