MSF Beginners Course : Passed

On Saturday, I woke up bright and early and met my fellow students at “the range” which was the Pflugerville High School parking lot. There, we met the instructor, and those without their own helmets and/or gloves got fitted with ones the class provided. I had my HJC half-helmet and leather gloves, so I was all set. The bikes that they had for us were Kawasaki Eliminators and Honda Rebels. The two students who had the most experience got the two Rebels, which were 250’s, and the rest of us got the Eliminators, which were 125cc machines. In all, there were seven of us, because one of the women from the Thursday night class didn’t show. Anyways, we all got our helmets and gloves on, then got on our bikes. The instructor led us through a quick tour of the bikes, then we “power-walked” our bikes to the staging area, and the actual range.

Our first exercise was power-walking (actually, walking while mounted on the bike, but without actually starting up the engine) across the range, then turning the bike around, then coming back. It was during this first exercise that one of the students, and older lady who I suppose was in her mid-fifties, dropped her bike and had to be helped up. We finished the exercise, then took a break. The lady decided that she needed to take some private lessons before re-taking the MSF class, and called it quits for now. That kind of sucked, because she was so gung-ho before the class, and was the first one at the range that morning, waiting with helmet and gloves.

Anyways, the rest of the morning was spent riding around the range doing a number of drills and learning the basics. It was tons of fun, and really helped, especially learning how to counter-steer. That is incredible, and so easy after a little practice.

In the afternoon, we went to the classroom and finished up our book-studying. At the end, we took a written test, and I scored a perfect 100.

The next day, we met at the range once again at 6:45am. The woman who was a no-show the day before showed up and asked to reschedule. We were wondering what happened to her, but I guess something came up… The Sunday training class wasn’t quite as fun as the first day, because we focused on slow-speed maneuvers (not that the previous day was filled with high speed thrills) and also because it started raining. I had a rain jacket, so I was dry up top, but my pants got soaked.

The training went well, although I had a bit of trouble shifting from first to second. It always happened as I started the exercise and was heading towards the instructor. Later on, I just kept it in second the whole time, including accelerating from a stop. At about noon, we were finished with our training, and it was time for our riding tests. I think there were five skill evaluations, and for each mistake you make, you get one or more points. You are allowed up to 21 points to pass, and I ended up with 11 points. I thought I did better, but oh well… I know where my riding weaknesses are, which are slow right-hand turns, and emergency stopping. 😮

In the end, all of us passed, with scores ranging from five up to 16. I got my certificate, a patch, and some coupons for riding gear at the local motorcycle shops. Next step is for me to take the written test at the Texas Dept. of Transportation to get my motorcycle endorsement. Then, I can decide if I want to insure and register my C70. I already have my eye on restoring a bigger bike, a Honda CB350 from the early 70’s. We’ll see…

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