Last weekend marked the completion of a long-term goal of mine. Last month I was accepted into Motorcycle Safety Foundation program to become a RiderCoach. This journey began five years ago. For various reasons, until recently, it just never came together for me. I genuinely love motorcycling and like all makes, models, years, and styles of bikes. I like all forms of the Motorsport and publish free tutorials on my Ride It Wrench It YouTube channel on repair and maintenance because I want to contribute to motorcycling and help riders.
Bringing New Riders Into The Motorsport
I also want to be part of bringing new riders into the sport. Motorcycling needs new riders as previous generations pass on. Using the cliche of passing on the torch accurately applies to the motorcycling community. Proper training in safety and riding skills is a critical first step, and I felt as a RiderCoach that this was an area where I could contribute. I hope this will be a career change shortly.
This will be a two-part series covering my personal experience through the MSF Basic RiderCoach program. About the saying, “it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey,” this was my journey to becoming an MSF Basic RiderCoach.
Heading Out For Class
I left on Friday, the day before classes began to have plenty of time to unwind, study a bit more, and mentally prepare myself. Almost immediately, the first roadblock to my journey began. I stopped for gas, and the locking mechanism on my gas cap malfunctioned. It wouldn’t open for access to fill my tank.
The only option was to go back home and make the repair. I still had the original push-button release part, so I dug it out, carefully pried the locking button off, and switched them out. Then I started my journey from the beginning a second time. The plan was to take some nice back roads to Killeen, TX, where the training was to take place. I wanted to relax and get a good ride in before the intense training began. The plan worked out, except the weather decided to take a turn for the worse, and it got cold. It was not unbearable, but enough that I ended up with a horrible head cold.
The First Day Of Class
Saturday morning, the first day of class, was miserable. I couldn’t breathe, and my throat was sore. In my mind, I thought the first day of class would be similar to a college situation, such as going over expectations, introduction to curriculum, introductions, requirements to pass, administrative stuff, etc. It was all of that, plus a headfirst plunge into the curriculum. I couldn’t focus on anything outside of my misery that first day. Not much information stuck with me. I was just too sick.
On the way back to my room, I picked up some cold medicine and began a regiment of doses in hopes of easing the congestion. It didn’t help that I had ridden my Harley and could not get around without being affected by outdoor elements.
I was hoping the weather would clear up, especially for the outdoor training where we learned the riding range curriculum. It didn’t. Monday was in the mid-’40s. It was probably about 1:00 pm when the rain began. It sprinkled for a bit, showered on us a bit more, stormed down its wrath upon us at other times, but never stopped completely. This occurred while we were learning and practicing range curriculum outside and well after dark.
Naturally, about the moment we were dismissed and I mounted my bike, the worst of it hit. The sky unleashed its ocean of water upon the city and made the ride back to my room miserable. I arrived completely saturated. You could have dunked me in a swimming pool, pulled me out, and not been able to tell the difference. This didn’t help my cold situation, and I still had to study for the next day.
Woke Up To Ice On Wednesday
On Wednesday, the weather got below freezing. I was heading out of the Airbnb that I stayed at and found my bike had been covered in ice overnight. It was 26 degrees outside, my head was full of snot, the cold was making my throat grind, I couldn’t swallow without pain, my chest was congested, and I had to ride to class. That afternoon incorporated more range exercises, and it didn’t get over 40 all day.
At this point, I thought it was unlikely that I would pass the class. Next week I will cover the experience of classroom and range exercises in more detail. Suffice to say, though, the training was as difficult and demanding as any college or specialized training course I have ever taken. This was probably one of the worst times of the entire year that I could have fallen ill.
A Glimmer Of Hope
I kept looking towards the horizon, and eventually, a gleam of rainbow appeared, and some hope returned. On both Friday and Saturday, the temperatures touched the high 60s, and the rain had moved on. By now, all the cold medicine I took was clearing me up, and I was finally able to have determined focus. Worry set in regards to my performance because of the intense mental and physical struggle between being sick and accomplishing daily goals. I was particularly concerned about Friday because we had a written test that afternoon that had to be passed, or we would be dismissed.
Friday evening, we took the written exam. All of the remaining potential instructors passed except for one who was sent home.
Finally Feeling Well Again
Saturday was an incredible day. I was feeling really good finally, and it was a beautiful day. I had a great time on the range with the students and applying the learning objectives. I’ll get more in-depth on Part II of this series, but I do want to mention the professionalism and knowledge our instructors imparted were exceptional. I was feeling pretty good by Saturday’s end.
Sunday completed the entire training curriculum of the classroom, range, and actual teaching of students. I think all of the graduating RiderCoaches had a good day. The exercises were smooth, we saw the students progress exponentially, and we all had an exceptional day. The conclusion Sunday evening was exhilarating, exhausting, relieving, and exciting. It’s not in my personality to put on much of a display regarding my emotions, feelings, and generally what’s going through my head.
I decided to return home Sunday evening since the temperatures were dropping, and it wouldn’t get any warmer Monday. It was 45 Sunday evening when I left, and the temperature progressively dropped as I headed North back home. To make better time, I took a direct route on I-35, which has a speed limit of 75. By the time I arrived home, it was 41 degrees which brought the windchill to 25 degrees. It was cold, really cold. My legs were stiff, and my fingers and toes were tingling when I got back. So this morning, as I wrote this article, I am beginning the cycle of overcoming a head cold again.