Jamie did not pass the MSF riding course!

She was bruised and battered but hung in there.

Jamie signed up and took the Rider Safety Course offered by our local Pig Trail Harley Davidson. She signed up for the three day class. She was so excited and ready to take on this new challenge. Here is how it played out.

On Monday June 28th, Jamie arrived at the dealership early and ready to go. She had her gear on, as the class description explained that they needed to have their gear available all three days of the class. Unfortunately on this day she would be doing book and class room training so the gear was a little overkill. They spent the entire day doing the reading and going over all of the rules of the road and what to expect for the class. She got to meet her class mates and share their riding experiences. The class started with 6 female and 1 male rider. When she arrived home, she was so excited! So ready to be on the bike.

Tuesday June 29th rolled around and excitement was in the air. Jamie arrived early as to avoid the traffic in getting to the dealership. That morning she climbed onboard her Harley Street 500. She could sit on it firmly with both feet on the ground. She did notice that the weight of the bike (516lb) was substantial. On a side note I was surprised that they would do the class with bikes this big. I remember back in the day crawling my large body onto a 250cc Honda rebel. This bike was bigger and more powerful.

Jamie struggled with the weight of the machine, along with the distance from the clutch and front brake levers. She dropped the bike multiple times on Tuesday morning during the rider drills. She struggled with latching onto the front brake with too much force, making the bike come to an abrupt stop, allowing the weight of the bike and gravity to take over. That is not a good equation.

She sounded so defeated when I spoke with her at lunch that day. I told her to hang tough, listen to the instructors, relax her grip on the bike and most of all to have fun. She had a much better afternoon. She learned the basic of counter steering and to look where she intended to go. She did not drop the bike the rest of the day. her spirits were high when she got home.

The good news was she was gaining confidence on the machine and adjusting to the weight. On the opposite side of good news, Jamie looked like she had been a member of “Fight Club” she was battered and bruised. The goal is to get a good nights rest and go back at it tomorrow. The group would get to practice in the morning and then they would break, eat lunch and then take the written test before jumping on the bikes to complete the road testing session.

Wednesday June 30, test day is here! Jamie woke up and was not feeling 100%. She was in pain from the previous days dropping and picking up of the bike. She said she felt exhausted, but knew that later in the day she would feel better. The morning session did not go well for her, as she was not feeling like herself. She dropped the bike a few more times and even worse than that, was the fact that she started to doubt herself. The group stopped for lunch and Jamie started to feel a little better.

The riding session arrived as all of the riders started out doing the different exercises. Jamie’s first exercise was the dreaded U-Turn. As she was doing a left hand turn, she took the turn too slow, then compounded the issue with grabbing onto the front brake. As described prior, the weight to gravity factor was not in her favor, as she dropped the bike. Little did Jamie know, that this one mistake on her first exercise would yield a failing score. However the instructor allowed her to do the exercise again, where she completed it with no issue. Jamie did the rest of the exercises with little to no issue. Had she not dropped the bike she would have passed the assessment.

After all the riders completed the ride test, they went inside to cool off and take the written part of the course. She crushed the written test scoring a 98%. The test results were tallied and the riders were told their scores form the riding part of the test. Jamie did not pass. She was not the only rider to fail the riding portion.

I arrived at Pig Trail HD, around 4pm, as they were having a celebration of learning event to end the class. We all gathered in the class room and shared some stories, along with a few slices of pizza. The spirits in the room were elevated and the group was having a ball. The instructors gave a little talk to the group, even giving little awards out to the particapants.

As the event came to a close, the director of the riding Academy, pulled Jamie and the other rider to the side and explained that they would be able to take part in another 4 hour practice session, then take a quick break and return to retest. There would be a fee of $125 to take part in this session. We did not really care, as we just wanted the additional chance to practice and retest.

The cost for the initial class was $350, so adding another $125 was not a big deal. I do feel the class is a little pricey, but Jamie had a wonderful experience.

Friday July 9th – We have an update as of this evening. Jamie will retake the test on Monday July 19th. She should be healed up by that time and ready to roll! We posted Jamie’s video account on YouTube and asked for some thoughts and feedback. We had so many great comments and well wishers reaching out to wish Jamie the best. It was awesome. You can see the video here. Leave us a message and tell us your thoughts. Did you pass the class on the first try? What motorcycle did you take your motorcycle course with? Have you taken more advanced riding courses since you completed the Motorcycle Safety Course?

One thought on “Jamie did not pass the MSF riding course!

  1. You’ll get it Jamie! While it may have been warm, you were exhausted from the mental side of things – you were “thinking” every move, and I mean every move your body was making, and add in that it was all “official” and not just practice. We don’t learn to walk, ride a bicycle, or a motorcycle immediately. Today you do not think about how to walk, ride a bicycle, or drive a car – you have reached “unconscious competence”, but each took time and repetition to get there.

    No amount of mental prep will get you there, as there is a physical side to riding. Even though your Z400 is different from the HD, practicing on it will help. Your body will start to automate the necessary responses. You will need to adapt to the different feel of the HD, but adaptation is different from initial learning.

    I had ~ 6 years of riding a mini-bike and my brother’s Kawasaki 90 before taking my bike test at 14. I had pretty well mastered the “riding” part, the challenge was learning about riding on the street – hand/turn signals, crap on/in the road, lane positioning, etc.

    My son had a different experience when he got his license. He was 18 and had never ridden. I borrowed a Honda 150 dirt play bike and set about teaching him about all of the controls inputs, look where to go, countersteering, etc. He spent numerous hours on that thing in the yard and on the street in front of the house before I let him on a street bike (SV650). I then had him practice all the same things on the SV on the street in front of the house (small housing subdivision with little traffic). It helped him reduce the total mental load he had to deal with. He was able to pass the MO bike test which is patterned by the MSF course.

    Don’t beat yourself up. Realize the total load you put yourself under – learning to ride, under scrutiny of “official” strangers, a big and heavy bike, and your hands don’t fit the controls. Just go out and practice, practice, practice.

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