Today I completed the BikeSafeNC.com course for rider safety. It is an all day course that for some miraculous reason is completely free. It is offered by the police departments of North Carolina and started by the State Police, well one guy in particular, Mark Brown. He went to England to learn from them and brought the course back to the states. Mark retired from the State Police in January 2012 but has his own training center that can be found at www.motomark1.com.
The day starts right at 8:45. There are a combination of three classes before you start your first ride at 11:30. The first is of course the 20 min intro into why and how the class was developed. Then the next course turns into a very long and good presentation on Fatal Collisions involving motorcycles. Not only are statistics given, but actual video footage of accidents that bring home the taught materials. The way it is presented is first scenario, how to avoid, then the video, then a break down of what went wrong, and a lasting impression of how we can avoid a number of accident scenarios simply by being aware and acting before needing to react. This part of the day is long, at one point it does make you want to question why we do this very dangerous sport. However, the truth is then brought about that the more we know, the safer we are. Other subsequent discussions/presentation are on causation factors and rider behavior which are both followed by a talk about First Aid for downed bikers. Now it is 11:30 and time for the first of two rides. This is a short ride, only about 30mins. Which ends at a mall for lunch. The riders are pared with a single motorcycle officer and sent off in groups of three. You always watch for the cop's turn signal to know where to turn next. Half way through the ride, the two non-cop riders switch position so the second bike takes the lead. When you stop for lunch, the cop tells you about your riding skill and where you need to improve.
After lunch you head back to the police barracks. There you enter the classroom and learn the System of Motorcycle Control. This is a systematic breakdown much like sipde from MSF but streamlined. They also cover cornering and breaking but reiterate, this is not a course to learn how to ride, just how to avoid collisions. Next you go out for a long ride. The same groups head out just spaced in intervals so as not to ride with the others. It is a very personal touch, and much appreciated when you sit privately with the cop that is telling you what you did right and wrong. After the long afternoon ride, you get briefed by the cop and told if your riding has improved or not.
Some major points I picked up today. Cops are great riders and great people, well motorcycle cops are. Watching the road barriers such as the tree line or phone poles can tell you what the road is doing beyond your line of sight when coming up a hill or blinded by traffic. One saying I learned from the cops today, ÔÇ£Nine your fine, ten your mine.ÔÇØ In other words, up to nine over the speed limit is tolerated. There were many other points for riding but all in all, it is a wonderful course. Take it if you can.