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Importance of rider safety classes

Women riders are among the fastest-growing group of consumers in the motorcycle community. The number of female riders has doubled over the last 10 years. Women now make up 14 percent of the riding community. It’s important to address that the growing number of riders educate themselves on their bikes and how to handle them in critical situations.

Advanced rider training classes are a great way to learn about motorcycle safety whether you are new to riding or an experienced rider. Bobbie Carlson, program manager for the California Motorcyclist Safety Program (CMSP) says, “Riders who take intermediate or advanced rider training on their own motorcycle have had from 34 percent to 61 percent reductions in motorcyclist fatalities, as evidenced by data collected by the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Marine Corps, and the U.S. Army.” So why not also invest in advanced rider training classes and help reduce your likeliness of getting involved in an accident in the first place?

If you own and ride a motorcycle, you face all kinds of dangers on the road. Each year, almost 90,000 riders are injured in the U.S. alone. That’s why it is so important to be prepared. Prevention is one of the most important things a rider can bring with them to any ride. Even experienced riders can benefit from continuing education. Mastering technique, and knowing the latest safety information is critical. Cornering, braking properly, and being educated on panicked reactions are important and can help you avoid becoming a statistic.

In discussing rider safety with Dave Cooper, director of 2 Wheel Safety Training, I gathered more information that’s beneficial around extended rider education. Dave is certified by Total Control Training, and 2 Wheel Safety Training (a provider for Total Control Training). Total Control Training is the curriculum vendor for and the contract provider of the CMSP, which is run by the California Highway Patrol for the Department of Motor Vehicles.

1. How long are the advanced rider clinics?

Dave: “The Intermediate Riding Clinic (IRC) is an eight-hour class that moves between classroom and range work three times. Five hours of riding and three in the classroom.”

2. Why is it important for riders to be on their own motorcycle during these classes?

Dave: “Muscle memory developed in class allows for easy continuation of learned exercises on the road after the class is over. Doing this in the class on a bike that the rider is familiar with provides a level of comfort and assurance that cannot be achieved if part of the rider’s cognitive resources are being used to learn the idiosyncrasies of a new bike.”

3. What are a few key points of education that a rider will gain confidence in as a result of this training?

Dave: “Riders learn intermediate-level skills required to safely operate a full-sized motorcycle, as well as understanding the basic psychology of riding. This helps riders to make better choices on the road. Topics covered include having a proper mental state, understanding two-wheeled vehicle dynamics, cornering strategies for multiple types of turns, emergency braking, and evasive maneuvers. The hallmark skill in the IRC is maximum braking. Using the full potential of a braking system in order to stop as quickly and in as short of a distance as possible.”

4. Do you find that riders that have been on a bike longer have developed bad habits or incorrect techniques?

Dave: “Perfect practice makes perfect riders. At a very fast rate. We all have bad habits on bikes and the longer they go uncorrected the more bad habits become part of muscle memory. A rider who has decades of practice using incorrect techniques will rely on these in emergency situations. We go with what our bodies know. Fortunately, we can replace the incorrect with the correct through successful repetition. Since the correct technique always objectively feels better than the incorrect techniques, the body absorbs the lessons much quicker than the initial incorrect learning.”

5. How do you feel that a rider that has been on a motorcycle for some time can benefit from IRC?

Dave: “The single most important skill to leave the class with is an increase in the rider’s ability to perform and control a stop in the shortest possible distance. The class is designed to improve stopping, but also to teach about the mechanics of stopping and why specific behaviors will result in better braking. The basic psychology section of the class is targeted and specific to road skills and survivability. Many of the concepts are surprising. All of them are well-tested.”

6. Why do you feel it is important for a newer rider to take an IRC?

Dave: “The numbers are in and they seem to be suggesting that one additional lesson after licensing is the magic bullet for new rider safety. The training should be after some small number of miles on the road but before bad habits are developed. There is no absolute number, but 500 miles over a few weeks or months is a good rule of thumb. If riders can be trained on their new motorcycles after gaining some experience but before having an incident or developing bad habits, the possibility for avoiding issues over a long riding career increases.”

7. Are there any other important points you’d like to mention to a rider reading this article or considering taking a clinic?

Dave: “The skills learned in the IRC are real world and applicable to the next ride and the ride after that. Braking and turning are skills we rely on for every ride. Even a small increase in skills can mean the difference between returning home with a smile or with road rash and a repair bill. We don’t need to have someone stop 40 feet shorter, we need only the length of a single car.”

Go to totalcontroltraining.net to learn more about classes in your area. Total Control Advanced Rider Clinic offers 20 locations nationwide or search online for a licensed provider in your area. Please look into taking a class ladies. It just might save your life.

Photos by Bonnie Lee Kellogg