MSF Advanced Rider Course
Learning what you already know
Although I have often considered taking the advanced rider course from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, I needed to be ordered to take it to finally make the decision. You see, I was called to Active Duty by the National Guard in May and in order to ride my pride and joy on the post the General said I had to take the MSF course. Being a Captain, I decided to take the course rather than risk being caught by an eager 18 year-old private with a gun and a shiny, new MP badge, salivating at the thought of catching an officer riding an unregistered bike on post. Our MPs here are more crusty than usual - I often wonder which General's daughter these MPs must have impregnated to be assigned to the gate at Ft. Irwin, only a few miles from Death Valley.
I went over the bike several times and even gave it a good scrub-down the morning before the class.
The first period of instruction was an explanation of why I roasted. It is inherently more difficult to control a motorcycle at low speed according to the MSF, therefore you will never exceed 25mph for the whole course. Heck, most of it is less than 10mph. This would be fine in appropriate clothing but I was wearing an armored jacket and pants, with Sidi boots, and the Gixxer dude had his leather jacket and race boots. We were cooking while the posers in the beanie helmets and t-shirts were feeling good. My biggest gripe with the course is that it seems to be some sort of low speed trials event.
After our hydration, we had some instruction and headed out for the next exercise. This time we were to accelerate to 25mph, shift into second, and stop as quickly as possible between two lines while downshifting into first. The problem is that by shifting into second you are lugging along and pretty much need to idle just to keep the bike under 25mph. Panic stops are fun, but stoppies were definitely discouraged (ahem, sorry). Good information was discussed about using the front brake for most of the braking power, and using the back to settle the chassis. After we could demonstrate adequate controlled stops, they threw in a "stop when we wave" as opposed to stop between the lines. If they would have left out the stupid requirement to shift, this would have been a useful exercise. However, everyone I know has at least tried panic stops, whether from necessity or practice, so I am not sure why I needed someone to watch me do it.
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