I am signed up for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) class in May. Can you give me a few pointers or suggestions on how to prepare for it?
Congratulations on taking the first step to becoming a riding diva! Your world is about to change for the better!
Most courses consist of three-day classes that include classroom and riding skills sessions. Be prepared, they are very intense so I recommend you get ready for the challenge, both mentally and physically.
First, alleviate any stress in your life. You want to stay focused on getting through the weekend and you don’t need any distractions. Get a good night’s sleep, eat a healthy breakfast and off you go.
Second, I recommend you start doing weight training now to build up your muscular endurance. This will help you in balancing the bike, coming to a stop and riding for long intervals. You will most likely be a little tense and will have a tendency to use a tight grip on your handlebars. Doing wrist curls with light weights will strengthen your flexor-carpi muscles and may keep you from being sore the next day from all the throttle on/off action.
Always warm up (cardiovascular or stretching) for approximately ten minutes before working with weights. Include upper and lower body workouts using all major muscle groups - pectorals (chest), latissimus dorsi (back), deltoids (shoulders), biceps and triceps (arms), quadriceps and hamstrings (legs). Use one to five pound dumbbells and do 15-20 repetitions of each exercise. There are several Internet sites to help you with specific exercises for each body part. For example, www.exrx.net and www.nutristrategy.com are two you can choose from.
Now that you are mentally and physically prepared, it’s time to get your riding gear in order. The MSF courses require the following gear: DOT or Snell approved helmet, over-the-ankle sturdy boots with rubber soles, jeans, a good jacket, full-fingered leather gloves and eyewear protection.
Always layer your clothes when dressing. You can remove some if you get hot, but if you don’t have enough on to begin with and you get cold, it will be very difficult to perform your riding skills portion of the class. Your helmet can be either full-face or three-quarter; however, for eye protection the full-face is recommended. If you choose the three-quarter helmet, you will need goggles or sunglasses for eye protection. Hopefully the weather will be sunny and warm, but it wouldn’t hurt to pack rain gear if you have it.
Although bikes differ, if you know someone with a bike, take some time to familiarize yourself with the location of the following: ignition switch, fuel valve, turn signals, choke, clutch, front and rear brakes, shifter and kickstand. Of course, all of this is covered in class, but it might give you an edge and add to your confidence.
Preparation, knowledge and responsibility are essential in meeting motorcycling challenges and minimizing the risk. Have fun, good luck and let us hear from you when you complete and pass your class!
“Never Ride Faster Than Your Angel Can Fly”
Goldie’s Tip of the Month: Inspect your motorcycle every time you prepare to ride. Lights, tires and wheels, fuel and oil, cables and suspension. Check your manual.