I was in my late twenties, working at a big time radio station, extremely full of myself, and I thought this would be pretty cool. I just straddled the bike, and drove away. I didn’t have any safety training or anything. I just took off.
I kept it for a couple of years, but the day AFTER I was run off the road and landed in a field, I sold it. That was enough for me.
Fast forward to 2016.
When I decided I was going to buy another motorcycle, it was going to be a Harley. I just needed to be sure that I still had the skills. The Street Glide Special I had my eyes on was a different kind of beast than the Suzuki I owned years ago. Plus, I wasn’t that cocky young buck that I was then. I was in my sixties, and retired.
The first thing I did when I signed on the dotted line, was attend the Harley Davidson Riding Academy. Here in my hometown, Appleton’s Harley Davidson is fully committed to the Academy. Not only does it polish up, or give new riders the skills they need to operate their bike, but it also helps save money on the insurance.
If you’re going to own a motorcycle for the first time, I HIGHLY recommend you take this course.
Three days of learning all of the laws, and watching videos of what could go wrong, but hands on riding exercises to learn all of the basics of operating your motorcycle. The instructors are Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) and Harley Davidson certified instructors so you’re learning from some of the best riders on the road.
The Tuckessee Harley Owners Group, or HOG chapter, encourages all riders to take the course and constantly be polishing up your skills. If you don’t belong to a HOG chapter, I encourage that. It’s a great way to meet other bikers, and have group rides to participate in. My HOG chapter is very active and very safety oriented and it helped me find riding partners that I could enjoy my new lifestyle with.
As I learned early on, having the confidence to operate my motorcycle is half the battle. If you are intimidated by the bike and the traffic around you, then that’s a recipe for disaster. Call it confidence, or “bravado” or whatever you want to call it, but the motorcycle is very unforgiving if you take it for granted.
Riding with experienced riders, like my HOG chapter, also helped me gain my confidence. Watching other bikers operate their bike does wonders for a new rider. Learning how they take corners, how they avoid road hazards, and learning from their years of experience is still invaluable to me.
So don’t just do it for the insurance savings. Do it to improve your skills. Do it for you.
Today, I plan to take the Advanced Riding course. It’s a more detailed experience, with more challenging skills to learn. I’m always anxious to learn how to improve my skills.
I don’t ride my motorcycle with my ego.