Get set for safe riding

Rob Gibson

Now that spring has arrived and many of the Okanagan's streets have been swept, motorcyclists are hitting the pavement.

But wise riders have taken part in the Kelowna and District Safety Council's rider training and advanced rider training courses.

Not wanting to be unwise Soft 103.9 morning man Gord Vizzutti and myself enrolled to make sure we can handle ourselves on Okanagan highways this summer.

Like all riders, we had to take the ICBC motorcycle learners test in order to take the course. We started in the classroom with the basics then hit the parking lot for slow speed training, in fact for most of the first day we didn't start the engines and relied on leg and back power.

We learned advanced clutch control, shifting, counterbalancing, high-speed braking, curve management, hills, passing, and highway riding.

Bill Downey, safety instructor with the Kelowna and District Safety Council says, "we get you started on a process of continuous learning and development."

Once the engines are fired up we learned how to "ride" the clutch to control the bike's speed and balance at low speed. "It's all part of getting your reps in," says Downey," after a while it becomes second nature."

On day two, we progressed to more advanced riding skills like lane changing, slalom, and emergency braking.

At the end of day two, riders take the Motorcycle Skills Assessment once they pass they are now allowed to ride solo and go faster than 60 km/h.

At that point, riders need to practice for 30 days but they can book their road test with ICBC. Once that course is passed they become full-fledged licensed motorcyclists.

Gord and I both passed our MSA and signed up for the Advance Rider Technique course.

Downey says the entire package gives beginner riders like ourselves the equivalent of two years motorcycle riding experience.

If you can't take a safety course, four key takeaways include:

  1. Be conspicuous
  2. Don't speed
  3. Watch for gravel
  4. Brake early

Valuable skills considering ICBC statistics indicate the Okanagan is the deadliest place in the province to ride.

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