By Tommy A. Noyes

Observed by Motorcycle Safety Foundation certified instructors Esther and James Miller, Albert Ebueng keeps his eyes up as he polishes his handling skills in the Basic RiderCourse. Dave Covel sets up his turn in the background. Photo by Tommy Noyes.

“Keep your eyes up! Use your peripheral vision — don’t fixate on the cones!” was the refrain students in the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s “Basic RiderCourse” heard repeatedly from rider coaches Esther and James Miller as they worked to polish their riding skills at Vidinha Stadium’s parking lot.

Trainees came with the full range of motorcycling experience—complete newbies to trainees with decades of riding.

Forty-six year old Ryan de la Peña came to the course as a beginner rider. Although Ryan has never owned a motorcycle, he’ll be ready when the opportunity arises to enjoy a motorcycling adventure.

“We learned everything starting with the basics, to maneuvering, then to various ways to abruptly avoid hazards. We built up our confidence levels. I highly recommend this course. It’s well worth the cost to get eight hours of hands-on instruction on the motorcycles plus eight hours in the classroom. Reduced motorcycle insurance rates will offset the cost of the training,” Ryan said.

The 16-hour course costs $200, with equipment provided to the trainees. Students don’t use their own motorcycles for the course, but ride 200 cc motorcycles used exclusively for this training course. These motorcycles are relatively lightweight for street bikes, and are appropriate for the broad range of riders who pilot the bikes through various maneuvers. The hands-on exercises focused on continuously having safety options in mind and maintaining precise control of the bikes through confined spaces.

“We held classes in September and November,” said Esther Miller, a certified motorcycle safety instructor and riding enthusiast. “We need at least six students to hold the training, and can take up to eight since that’s how many bikes we have. The 2018 classes have not yet been scheduled. If you’re interested please contact Kaua‘i Community College at 245-8318.”

The course is supported by the Hawai‘i Department of Transportation, Highway Division’s Highway Safety Program using federal funds channeled through KCC’s Office of Continuing Education and Training.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation advises riders to get trained and licensed, wear protective gear, ride unimpaired, ride within your limits and be a lifelong learner.

Dave Covel shared his motivations to enroll.

“I had multiple reasons to take the training. It’s been many years since I’ve ridden a motorcycle, and riding skills are perishable,” Dave said. “This course will get me back up to speed so I can be as safe on the road as I can be. I’d like to continue on a more advanced course, but this is challenging enough. I knew I was rusty, but I didn’t know I was this out of practice. Additional reasons are, it satisfies the road test requirement for the endorsement on my driver’s license and results in an insurance discount.”

Nobody came out of the course with a “know it all” attitude about motorcycling. The takeaways: the “Basic RiderCourse” is a good start, it’s important to continue practicing the fundamentals of safe riding, and keep polishing the many good riding habits shared during the training.

  • Tommy Noyes is Kaua‘i Path’s executive director, a League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructor and active with the Kaua‘i Medical Reserve Corps.