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1,695 Miles: Advanced Rider Course

July 29, 2010

Check-in at BMW RAlly

Checking in at the BMW Rally.


We unloaded our bikes at the hotel then drove back to the Fairgrounds to check in for the rally. We met new friends and old and tried to make a plan for dining. We eventually ended up at Chloe’s restaurant, on-site at our Sleep Inn Suites hotel. Dinner was superb; I had spinach and mozzarella stuffed raviolis swimming in a light fennel broth, with perfectly cooked bite-sized pieces of summer squash and julienned red peppers. Yum! Other dinners looked equally appealing. I’m sorry I didn’t have my camera handy as the presentation was as enticing as the meals themselves.

Friends, Rally

Beer tent friends: Greg, Judy, Dan, Cindi


I crashed out pretty hard following dinner (and the two days of riding), knowing that on Friday I had to be up early and out to a local high school for our MSF Advanced Rider Course.

Cindi and I were both nervous heading out for the morning’s class, both worried that we would somehow drop our bikes during the course of the day. This course has the added verbiage “Sportbike Techniques” but, as our able and talented instructors George and Tim pointed out, that is a bit of a misnomer for the course, since we would be doing only low-speed cornering and no knee dragging, unlike at a track school where there is definitely the potential for dropping a bike!

The course started with three hours of classroom instruction and quizzes, designed to self-assess our level of skill vs. risk-taking tendencies. I placed myself at a skill level of 7 (from 1 to 10 with ten being the highest) and a risk-taker level of about 4, since I’m not entirely free of a need for speed… Part of the course includes rider perception quizzes that can be found on the MSF website. I recommend taking these quizzes often, because they offer real-life situations that we sometimes encounter, and keeping our brain primed and ready for a variety of situations is crucial to staying safe.

We took a lunch break and finally got out on the range for five hours of riding practice: swerving, cornering and stopping maneuvers, as well as a tricky lane change exercise with all ten of us out on the range at once crisscrossing each other’s path of travel! It’s hard to put into words how exciting that one was… trust me, you’ll have to take the course to experience this (ridin in L.A. traffic may come close…).

Late in the day, we had to negotiate a decreasing radius turn, coming in tighter and tighter, and then getting spit out into a “hazard” that needed a swerve. This is where my cheerleader, Tim, started clapping hard, giving me the thumbs up—after telling me to boost up my speed—then yelling, “Way to throw that puppy around, Liz!” with enthusiasm. I guess that was a compliment… I was bemused, to say the least.


The course reminded me that our motorcycles are made to lean, that we can trust the lean; and it was a reminder to bend my elbows in order to lean forward and in rather than keeping my body in line with the bike, which actually creates a steeper lean angle and would be harder to correct from if a hazard is encountered on the street. This knowledge came in handy the next day, when I would be riding up to Portland with a group of guys I had never met before.

Next: I meetup with a motley crew from Portland…

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One Comment leave one →
  1. July 29, 2010 4:12 pm

    I’ve always wanted to take that class. Sounds like you got some good experience out of it. Without a bike drop!

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