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Motorcycle class was an eye-opener

August 6, 2010 - Frank Robinson

Well, I went to my motorcycle class, and I passed.

It began on a Friday evening with about four hours of classroom instruction. The class of about 20 was broken into two groups. All the materials were furnished -- even a highlighter.  The class was broken into two groups because the actual riding course schedule which would follow the next two days would be broken into the morning group and the afternoon group. The class was made up mostly of men, but there probably were five or six women.

The classroom work was a little harder than I expected. There were a lot of details I never had thought about. After the class was over, we were given a take-home test. It was 50 questions, and we were allowed to miss two. I thought, piece of cake, a take-home test. I passed, but just barely.

On Saturday, my afternoon riding class began at 2. Boy, was it hot. The motorcycles were provided and they were all 250cc-range. I grabbed a little Honda 250 Rebel.We were required to wear sturdy shoes (boots), helmet and gloves, long-sleeved shirt, shatter-proof glasses and rugged pants(blue jeans). Put all that on and spend the next four hours in a parking lot riding around and around on a motorcycle. It was physically challenging.

We started out with the basics: How to pull out, stop, etc. As the day went on we were instructed on how to perform basic maneuvers. By the end of the day, One guy couldn't take the heat and dropped out of the class. Another guy quit because he simply could not ride a motorcycle. He said he was too uncomfortable, and didn't enjoy it. So after an hour or so, we were down to eight of us in the blazing sun in a parking lot behind Kent-State Trumbull in Champion. At the end of the day, I was exhausted.

On Sunday, we returned to class at the same time. The training was stepped up a bit, as we had to perform tricky figure-eights, practice stopping and avoiding collisions and obstacle. Again, it was hot. At the end of the day, the eight of us had to take our final test: It icluded stopping properly, taking a curve and the tricky slow-motion figure-eight.

Everyone passed the class. Not bragging -- OK, maybe just a little -- I was the only one who received a perfect score in the non-classroom part.. For years, I have just been renewsing my learner's permit each year, so I knew how to do a lot of the stuff they taught us. But I wasn't doing it the correct way. Sure, stop and start, no big deal. Turn a curve? No problem. Swerve, make a lane-change or avoid an obstacle? I have done that, too. But the key word here is properly. Before I took the class I was doing those things, just not the way they are supposed to be done.

I would urge anyone who rides a motorcycle on the streets take the class. It's offered by Ohio Department of Public Safety, called the Motorcycle Ohio program. It's affiliated with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. The cost is only $25 for a weekend of riding someone else's motorcycle. And they even provide the gas. Doesn't sound so bad, huh?


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