Women Riders

Ramona Carter's MSF Class Experience

Written by  May 31, 2004

The last two months we have prepared you for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) classes, taken you to an actual training school and this month we are sharing a member’s actual experience during her class. Ramona Carter lives in North Carolina and attended the Basic Rider Course (BRC) through the North Carolina Safety Education Program at Johnston Community College in Smithfield. She has this to share.

Hello Goldie,

As some of you are aware I have been riding as a passenger with Bill for three and a half years. He has taken excellent care of me as a passenger and always provided a safe and assuring ride. I have enjoyed many hours rubber necking and experiencing motorcycling. Even though he has never requested I take a BRC, he has always been supportive anytime I mention it.

I’m not sure IF I will ever purchase my own bike, but I took the course so I would have a better understanding of what each of you go through when you make the decision to ride. I have seen you throw your leg across your bike with pride. I have seen the smiles at the end of a long ride. I have watched and enjoyed the uniqueness of each person I’ve met. I have enjoyed all my times, even the wet ones. These things mean more than I can put in to words.

Here’s a short description of how my class went. There were 12 class members and two instructors. My first day was Friday night from 6 p.m. to10 p.m. We started with paperwork and were to provide our license. I did not have my license with me since I had left my purse with Bill. The instructors made sure to let me know that if I did not have the license in the morning, I would not be riding. Then we moved to a discussion on clothing. As he went around and made sure everyone had the proper gear, he told the women they would need flat boots. There were three women, so he decided to ask each of us if we had the proper gear. As it became my turn, I swallowed hard and explained I had only brought one pair of boots. As he gave me one of those looks, he asked, “How tall are the heels?” “About two inches” I responded. After his face stopped turning shades of red, he recommended I go to Wal-Mart after class and get some flat boots. Within the first two hours of the course I was feeling like the red-headed stepchild. At 11 p.m., Bill and I were at the Wal-Mart getting flat boots.

Saturday morning at 7:30 a.m., I am ready for class which was scheduled to run from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.. I was all decked out in the proper gear. Then came the fun, the instructor put me on a bike where my feet didn’t touch the ground. I was on my tiptoes and had spasms in my legs. The secondary instructor noticed my problem, talked with the main instructor and moved me to a motorcycle called “Rebel.” The instructor commented, “Do not try to be one.” This comment was not my first inclination of what the rest of the course was going to be like. We then had to roll (not ride) the bikes to the course. It was not really that far…unless you are a computer brat that never pushed anything heavier than a vacuum cleaner equipped with a self-propelled option. I was huffing and puffing by the time I rolled it to the course, which by this time seemed like it was at least 10 miles away from the back of the building.

Ok, I was out on the course and started to feel really excited and looked forward to the day. We did several exercises on learning to turn the fuel on, turn on the ignition, push the emergency off button to run, and then the start button. Keep this sequence in mind because you will hear something about it later. I was learning throttle, friction zone and balance. My brain kept kicking in and saying, “What the hell are you doing?” Yet, I kept my mind open and kept learning each exercise. Believe me when I say, if I did anything wrong, the instructor not only told me, but the class and everyone over on the other course could hear what I had done wrong. It was the end of the riding session, so we went in to watch films on safety. By this time I was thinking, great, this is something I can do without the instructor yelling at me. By the end of the first day, I knew these guys must have been drill sergeants for the Marines. After leaving the military, they found this job to keep their yelling skills at peak performance. The class was over for the day and I was on my way out of the building. I had several classmates tell me, “I am not talking to you anymore; I will fail this course just like you’re going to.” All these comments from my fellow classmates really gave me a boost of confidence. My brain was saying “why are you doing this?” I was so tired that all I wanted was a hot shower and a bed. It was starting to feel like Boot Camp!

It was Sunday morning at 7:30 a.m. and I was all decked out in my proper gear. I was standing at the building waiting to get on my bike. This time, I got to ride my bike to the course. I thought, “This is the only way to go.” We started the exercises for the day. Once again, everything I did wrong was heard by everyone within 40 miles. It was time for the driving test. We lined up at the starting gate and waited to execute the current task. My hands and legs were shaking so bad, the instructors asked me if I was cold. This is when he noticed I had not turned my fuel value off after getting in line for the test. Yep, you guessed it. He proceeded to tell me that I would not leave that course until I learned to turn on and off that fuel value. I was waiting for him to tell me to drop to the ground and give him 50 pushups, but he didn’t. And yes, everyone within 40 miles heard this also. As I executed my driving task, I started to worry. The main instructor was not yelling at me. At the end of each exercise, he would just point for me to go and join the others. As I got in line, I had some of my classmates tell me I looked good, but they were as confused as I was since the instructor had stopped yelling at me. When we finished our driving test, we went inside for the written test.

After a short break, we returned for our results. First was our written test. As the instructor laid the test in front of me, he commented, “You just had to do it…didn’t you.”
I was afraid to look. As I looked down, he said you made 100%, the guys at the same table leaned over to look and everyone started applauding. I was in shock. Then he started going over the results of our driving test. I thought, everything felt well as I executed it, how could I not pass. Then I remembered things felt good the first time and yet the instructors let me know it was not right. We went through several classmates’ results and they were great, naturally. I remembered that everyone in my class owned their own bikes. Some had even been riding most of their lives, but they needed the endorsement for insurance. It was now my turn. He turned to me….taking what seemed like forever and said, I had received five points off because I had power walked the figure eight. As he moved to the next person, my mouth opened and the word “AND” came out. He said nothing else. Oh my God, can you believe this instructor had nothing to say? I now know how people feel when Boot Camp is over. My classmates started giving me the thumbs up.

I found the course to be challenging both mentally and physically. It provided a different insight to motorcycling for me. If I was asked if I would recommend the class to anyone, I would YELL…”Go take it.” Did you notice that I learned more from the instructor than just motorcycle safety? Hahaha

I did enjoy the class and whether I decide to ride my own bike or stay a passenger, it was a great lesson for me to learn. I am also especially thankful for Bill, with whom I have had many wonderful experiences.

Goldie’s Comments
Wow! What an experience Ramona, congratulations on making it through a very challenging course and not giving up! Thank you for sharing it with Cycle Connections. It’s encouraging to know you don’t have to take the class just to learn about riding. It educates you on being a better passenger and gives you the awareness of what it takes to maneuver the bike from normal to challenging situations. It also gives you more respect for the person driving when you are the passenger.

Please keep in mind that the majority of the classes and treatment of the students are not conducted in this manner. Most professional instructors show care and compassion for the new rider and encourage all students through the course. However, if you end up in a class like this and feel you are being mistreated, report the instructor to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, demand a refund and take a class from an instructor who truly wants to help new riders. Get references from others who have taken the MSF class before making your decision on where to take it. It’s all about education, safety and fun. It's not boot camp! I’m sure we all remember our own experience in the MSF class, some good, some not so good and some unforgettable. But overall we succeeded in our goal; to learn a lot and pass the test.

Leisa Anderson of Smithville had this to say,'I took my classes in Maryville and loved it! The instructors were wonderful and I had a great time.' Jan Marengo of Pleasant Valley, 'I enjoyed the class and the instructors were kind and helpful. That helps when you are so nervous anyway.' Sandy Thoma of Liberty, 'I really liked the classes and learned so much. The instructors were professional and helpful. I would recommend it to anyone whether they intend to ride their own bike or stay a passenger.'

Everyday there are more and more women signing up for classes which means there are a heck of a lot more of us on the roads! Keep it up divas, you are an inspiration to all of us!

Goldie Arnold
“Never Ride Faster Than Your Angel Can Fly”

Goldie’s Tip of the Month: Animal encounters - Slow down until your paths are close, then accelerate away. Given the choice of hitting a squirrel and hitting a guard rail, there is only one rational decision.

Goldie’s Fashion Tip of the Month: Eyelash tinting for the riding season. No more mascara smearing! Safe, inexpensive, $15 and lasts four weeks! Check it out at your Day Salon!