May is Motorcycle Safety month. With the cold and snow beginning to give way to sun and warmer weather I’m seeing many more bikes on the road. This is a great time to think about motorcycle safety as we clear off the cobwebs from our bike’s winter naps. It’s also a good time to clear out the cobwebs in our heads and brush up on our atrophied riding skills. I’ve ridden for almost 15 years now but those first few long spring rides are always an opportunity to get back into form for the riding season. This year instead of taking this task on myself I enlisted the help of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and enrolled in the BRC2 (formerly ERC) course.
For those not familiar with the ERC (Experiences Rider Course), now the BRC2 course, it is essentially the same as the BRC (Basic Rider Course) that many take to qualify for a motorcycle endorsement, but with a few differences. The first difference is less classroom time. Most of the non-riding activities are less formal than the BRC and happen during the one day, six-hour BRC2 course while the riding activities are being setup by one of the two instructors or during a break. The second difference is that you get to ride your own bike in the course. No more trying to work out how the figure eight in “The Box” exercise while on a TU250 could be executed on your 600lb + daily ride. You get to try it out on your bike and find out. The MSF bill the BRC2 as “an excellent refresher course for practicing and renewing basic riding skills.”
With a forecast calling for a 70% chance of rain (with possible hail!) my friend Byron and I started out from Warrenton under cloudy skies for our ride to Charlottesville where the course was being held. Since MSF courses are held rain or shine I wore my waterproof gear and hoped for the best. We still had a 30% chance for a good day, right? As it turned out the rains never materialized and we had a warm sunny afternoon riding around in the parking lot at Albemarle High School.
Throughout the six-hour course our instructors guided, directed, corrected and encouraged the five of us riders in the class through all the exercises I remembered from the BRC course. It took me a bit but to gain the confidence that I could execute these maneuvers on my Concours. Once I got comfortable though, it was a joy becoming more familiar with my bike and sharpening my skills. As I said before, it’s one thing to take this course on a 250cc bike that has been “well used”, it’s a totally different experience on the bike I ride all the time. The reason I enrolled in the course was so I could practice confidence building lower speed maneuvers with the direction and guidance of a trained instructor. I was not disappointed. It was refreshing to know that I was more than competent in several of the activities. I also picked up new skills and corrected some bad habits along the way. As our instructor said, “practice makes permanent, perfect practice makes perfect.”
This summer I have a bit of homework to work on from class. There are a few techniques that I need to reinforce through practice. Unlike when I was in school though, I’m really looking forward to this homework.
For more information on the always changing and expanding course list offered by the MSF you can go to their website at MSF-USA.org.