I’ve been riding for more than 20 years, but I know I can be better and safer! After a recent long weekend of riding challenging roads in north Georgia with my friend Melissa, we decided we’d both like to take an advanced course to increase our skills.
After researching the options near Atlanta, we decided to sign up for the Advanced Skills Course at ProRider(TM). This full day class promised: “This challenging course is a combination of the Precision & Control Course and the Defensive Riding Course that will allow riders to learn how to better handle their personal motorcycle on the road and at slow speeds. This program will incorporate the techniques learned and mastered by police motorcycle officers, and will improve the riding abilities of even the most seasoned rider.”
I was excited and nervous! I had planned to ride my Bonneville, but she’s still in the shop waiting on some fresh parts. So I rode the R 1200 C, a bike I love but it’s definitely not as nimble as the Bonnie. I just kept reminding myself that if the moto cops can maneuver tightly on big ol Harleys, then I can do it, too!
And it was great! A long day for sure, but filled with good tips and valuable practice. Ken the instructor – a 35-year moto cop veteran – is no-nonsense and super helpful. His instructions were clear and logical. I did wish at times the class were smaller so there would be less waiting and more laps through the courses. But I never felt like I wasn’t getting personal attention. Also this is made up for by a generous offer ProRider extends – as long as the (monthly) class is not full, you can attend at no charge within a year to practice! If you have more than one bike, this is especially awesome, so you can try all the courses on another ride.
We did each of the 5 training courses individually, and then as a circuit from the beginning – included the tight weaving through cones, lane change, serpentine (large figure 8s around cones,) U-turn, and circle. We ended the day with emergency braking, crash avoidance and rear-end collision avoidance.
I learned about the SIPDE process – Scan, Identify, Predict, Decide, Execute – for avoiding hazards. Ken: “There are no accidents. Someone disobeyed the rules of the road.”
Ken is obviously extremely knowledgeable, and way more experienced than me, but the only guidance I question is around usage of the front brake. Ken is an “emergency only’ kind of teacher, and I’ve had other equally experienced guides say that usage should be more even. But a little internet digging and it seems that this is a common point of contention among riders and instructors.
WHAT TO EXPECT: You’re out in a parking lot all day, so if it’s the least bit warm and sunny, it’s HOT! Don’t forget to take breaks and hydrate – ProRider was great about this, and even had a canopy and chairs set out. Everything is at slow speed – even the emergency braking didn’t top 35 mph – so we all rode in t-shirts. (If you tend to get hangry, bring a snack!) There’s about an hour break for lunch, with plenty of options nearby.
Bonus – I haven’t done it yet, but Ken told us the certificate proof of taking the class should entitle us to 10% off our insurance!
In all, I would totally recommend the ProRider class to anyone looking to bone up on their skills. I’ll be back for another go on the Bonnie!
Below, thrilling video of me riding slowly! 🙂 And Ken doing an emergency stop (which is cooler.)