Prior to Saturday, I had never ridden a motorcycle on my own. Dirtbike, yes. Passenger, yes. But I had no idea what “roll on the throttle” and “ease out the clutch” meant in action. I had no clue what it felt like to have control of the bike for myself. I had basic knowledge thanks to countless lessons from my dad while we sat in the garage, but taking ideas and putting them to action was something I had yet to experience – until Saturday.
I will absolutely admit that I was lying awake in strange mix of fear and joy Friday night. In all honesty, it wasn’t tipping the bike or even getting hurt that had me feeling nervous, it was the thought that I might not be fit for riding. The idea of being “coached out” of the class due to a lack of ability made me feel absolutely petrified. All my life I have dreamed of the day I get to ride next to my dad on my own bike. I could not shake the terror I felt for the idea that may never happen.
Needless to say, City Limits Harley-Davidson has some amazing teachers and an excellent program set-up for beginning riders. The step-by-step introduction to riding made me feel more at ease than being thrown into the deep-end as a self-taught rider. Taking the class and reviewing concepts from the Basic Ridercourse book on Thursday and Friday, and then putting those skills to action by riding on Saturday and Sunday with discussion breaks was extremely beneficial.
Was I perfect at everything? Absolutely not.
Did I successfully pass the rider course? Yes.
Did I have a ton of fun? Absolutely.
The Harley-Davidson Riding Academy entailed two evenings in the classroom and two days of riding with discussion time during and after. The class ends with a practice run at the Illinois motorcycle license test – both written and riding. The instructors provide helpful feedback along each step of the process and the learning is extremely individualized.
While I definitely need more practice before I hit the road, I went from never riding before to weaving between cones, shifting gears, trying out counter-steering and genuinely riding on my own in the course of just two days. My mom, who took the class with me, also successfully passed thanks to the excellent teaching and curriculum Harley-Davidson offers. It just goes to show, whether you’re 20 or 50, riding can be for anyone.
Given the alarming statistics involving accidents and fatalities of self-taught riders, I would recommend this class to anyone looking to officially get their motorcycle license as either a beginner or experienced rider. Even if you have been on the road for years, you may be practicing some poor or unsafe habits without even realizing. If you have never ridden before, it is in your best interest to start out in with the safest skill set possible. The purpose of the Harley-Davidson Riding Academy is to get more motorcyclists on the road and to keep them there for many years to come by introducing safe riding habits and skills. I definitely feel confident in my ability to flourish as a rider in the coming months and years thanks to the excellent foundation I was given in this course.
If you’re looking to get into riding, I cannot recommend this course enough. It is thorough and comprehensive, but still extremely individualized. What’s more, it will give you a feel for the supportive nature of the riding community. My mom and I grabbed lunch with one of the other ladies in our class, we were congratulated by random people walking around the dealership, and others who had taken the class before were absolutely thrilled to see we were learning. While it was a little nerve-wracking, taking this major step in learning how to ride only makes me excited for the journey to come.
As my instructor explained on Sunday, the class is meant to be a “celebration of knowledge” by the end of the weekend. Overall, they’re teaching you the steps it takes to ride safe and smart while ensuring you “enjoy the ride”.
If you’d like to hear more about the learning experience, feel free to message me on Instagram @feminist_motorist or through email at FeministMotorist@gmail.com.