Those of you who know me would probably not classify me as a biker chick – though the outfits do have a certain bad-girl appeal to them, I’m not so much a wind-in-my-hair, take-my-life-into-my-hands daredevil. But that didn’t stop me from taking a motorcycle class at the Honda Motorcycle Safety Foundation Alpharetta Campus. It was – in a word – pretty darn awesome (okay, that’s three words, but you get it). If you’re looking for a creative, unique gift for a friend or family member or for an incredible day for yourself, you’ve just found it.
Funded jointly by major motorcycle manufacturers, like Honda, Harley and Suzuki, for the purpose of promoting safety and awareness, there are three other Motorcycle Safety Foundation training centers across the country (in Texas, California and Ohio), but the Alpharetta campus is the only one of its kind specifically designed for bike training. The facility was built for street bike, dirt bike and ATV (all-terrain vehicle, think 4-wheelers) training and offers classes for all skill levels and almost all ages!
The classes are well worth the (rather small) price tag – for just $100, you get a full day of training. It’s the lowest priced class of its kind in the country’s most expensive facility. The day starts at 7:45 AM and last until 3:30 PM, with lunch provided and ample water breaks throughout. It’s all-inclusive: they provide the gear (complete head-to-toe outfitting, including boots, gloves, shinguards, pads, and of course, helmet), step-by-step training, and supervision throughout the class. Class sizes are small – limited to just six to eight in the adult classes and only four in the children’s classes.
The Alpharetta Convention and Visitors Bureau kindly arranged for a class for me and five other (female) bloggers, not only to promote the facility but also to show us a good time that was a wee bit out of our comfort zones. Though our class was an abbreviated version of the full instruction, we still had a good four hours on the bikes. The day begins with getting into your gear – you’ll be completely dressed out, so don’t worry about trying to find appropriate clothing for riding (note: bring thick socks and don’t make plans for afterward – you’ll most likely be dirty, despite being completely covered). Before you start riding, you receive basic safety instruction off the bikes – the rules of the course, things to remember, tips to make you feel more comfortable. And then it’s time to ride!
As a class, we had varying degrees of comfort once we got on the bikes – a couple of us had ridden before (though it had been 20+ years since I’d ridden behind a cousin on his dirt bike, I think I still felt more comfortable than most). The small class sizes make the training feel almost one-on-one, and the staff is able to pay attention to each person’s progress, encouraging those who have caught on to try the next skill, while making those who need a little more attention feel comfortable – you can truly move at your own pace. By the end of the class, we had all learned basic skills, and every one of us was riding around obstacles, over logs, standing up on the pegs, and speeding around the course (well, it probably felt faster than it actually was!). The full class includes 19 lessons in different skills, riding scenarios and strategies, all in a safe, controlled environment.
Besides the DirtBike Basic RiderCourse (the class I took), there are a number of other options available at the Motorcycle Safety Foundation in Alpharetta, including basic classes on motorcycle controls, basic and advanced street bike courses (successful completion may lead to a waiver of the motorcycle license skill test and an insurance discount), advanced dirt bike trail riding (an all-day course limited to 4 students out of the training ring and out on the trails) and more. For a complete list and detailed information, visit the Motorcycle Safety Foundation websit.
We had such a blast in our class – and there are so many ways you can enjoy a day out at MSF. Bring a friend and try something new, plan a girls’ or guys’ weekend, birthday party, a fun day out with the family. With special classes for kids, all-female classes, and more, you can customize your experience and do something new! And of course, you’ll walk away with a graduation certificate, some new skills, and a new respect for riders.