And so now we get to the fun part of this whole journey--time to actually get a motorcycle license. It's only taken me 3 years since I officially moved here to get up the nerve to actually take the Basic Rider Training Course offered in the area. I had heard so many people say that it was an awesome course, that you learned a ton, and the instructors were great. And now I can say the same thing.
The process for signing up was pretty simple: just waited for the schedule to become available to sign up (you can find the course info on the Black Hills Harley-Davidson website), select the course dates and instructors you want to take it from, and finally fork over the $133.00 to register. If you take the class and drop midway, miss any class time, or told to leave you won't receive a refund, so keep that in mind!
I chose to take the class with a friend of mine who wanted to get her license. We decided to meet up a week early and get on a 125 and a 110 to just get a feel again before the class especially since she didn't have much experience on a bike and wanted to feel comfortable in the riding portion of the class. I would add that none of our additional riding practice is necessary for taking the class and passing. Everyone has different experience levels, but it did help us feel more comfortable riding and I found that I could understand what the instructors were having us do and I could connect what I was learning on the range and in the classroom. Regardless of skill level, if you show up and listen and are receptive to learning you'll succeed.
Since they want you to be prepared to ride you're expected to have your own helmet with eye protection, leather gloves, ankle covering boots with rubber soles, and long sleeved shirts/jackets. Depending on the time of year you take the course, it could be freezing cold or hot as hell. We took the class mid-April right after a major snowstorm passed through the week before but by the time the class began we lucked out with 70 degree weather days. Though the second day was so horrendously windy we struggled staying upright at some points. Sunscreen, food, and water is recommended!
Our instructors, Gina Suelflow and Mike Weston, were awesome. Gina actually trains in new instructors so you could say we were learning from the best of the best! Both of them kept the energy up and the exercises fun and engaging. In the class we were given booklets to follow along with and to markup to prepare for the test at the end of the two days. Overall class hours came to 17 hours total, but we all showed up early before 8am and Gina and Mike kept us moving swiftly to stay on time. I never felt like it was rushed or that we didn't have time to ask questions--we just got our shit done.
I won't lie the day does get long but it is fun and by the second day getting ready to take the tests it feels like no time passed at all. The exercises they train you on get into your head and should start to feel like muscle memory by the time you test. Wrapping up on that second day and gearing up to see if we could execute the maneuvers we had learned had me being nervous and excited. I was so adamant that I was going to pass on my first try that the idea of failing wasn’t an option. I never really thought of myself as having test anxiety but for whatever reason every maneuver that had been so easy and I had excelled at now seemed daunting. It probably didn’t help I was second in line. Weaving, breaking into curves, quick stops, sharp turns, swerves, all that done but for whatever reason I thought there was no way I passed. Then back to the classroom where we completed the multiple choice test, which if you pay attention and make notes will be a breeze.
All my fears were for nothing—I passed! We all did and to the instructors’ surprise none of us dropped our bikes so kudos to us. With all this being said, would i recommend taking this course? Absolutely. In addition to being a great starter course for riders and a refresher for those returning to riding, upon completion you’ll receive an endorsement card that will give you a discount on your insurance—who doesn’t like saving money??? And you won’t have to take the test at the DMV—thank god. Just be sure to update your license within a year of receiving you’re endorsement and you’re good to go!
Now here’s to sharing more stories about my adventures on two wheels!