Safe Riding

Kansas City Kansas Community College MSF Rider Training Program – Kansas City, Kansas

Written by  August 31, 2009

Nichole and I recently had the opportunity to visit with Carla Pestock and five of the female rider coaches (Liz, Karen, Kathy, Wendy & Jenny) at Kansas City Kansas Community College to find out more about their Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) Rider Training Programs. Carla is the Community Education Coordinator at the college, and during our meeting, it was obvious she was extremely proud of the rider training they have offered the community since 1998 as well as their team of female rider coaches. With more and more women choosing to ride their own motorcycles, she credits a great deal of their program's success to the school's female instructors.

During our meeting we went around the room so everyone could introduce themselves and share some of their motorcycling background and experience. I wasn't surprised by the wide variety of personal and professional backgrounds; however, I was a bit surprised by the amount of motorcycling and coaching experience these women bring to the table. Between the five women in our meeting there was a combined total of 92 years of riding experience and 40 years of rider coaching experience, which I found very impressive.

Of the school's 19 rider coaches, 7 are female, which I believe is a much higher percentage of female instructors than most of the area's other rider training facilities. Along with the MSF Basic Rider Course (BRC) and Experienced Rider Course (ERC), they also offer a Touring and Trailering Course as well as a Rider Coach Preparation Course for new instructors. A motorcycle maintenance course is also offered by their tech center. Motorcycles and helmets are provided for the BRC, and with the popularity of scooters, students are welcome to bring their own scooters as long as they meet the MSF maximum seat height and cc rating. According to Carla and the rider coaches, the Basic Rider Course is by far the most popular training they offer, and over the past 11 years more than 4,000 students have completed their course. Carla also told me that for the 2009 year alone, they are training 550 students, which is their second best year.

During our meeting I was told that approximately 50% of the BRC students are female, and many of them request a female rider coach. Prospective students are welcome to visit with the rider coaches to ask questions before signing up, and are also invited to drop by one of the training classes to check it out first to make sure the training course is something they are comfortable with and wish to pursue. Along with the quality of their rider coaches, I believe this openness is one of the primary reasons their BRC course has a 98% success rate.

When asked what students seemed to find the most challenging during the BRC course, all the instructors readily agreed that clutch control and mastering the friction zone was the number one thing that some students seem to struggle with. During the riding portion of the course, instructors attempt to match students to a particular type of motorcycle based on the student's height and other determining factors. The rider coaches have two ranges and 22 motorcycles at their disposal, including Honda Rebels, Yamaha Viragos, as well as a Buell Blast and two dual sport bikes. This impressive fleet of motorcycles is provided by their sponsors Shawnee Cycle Plaza, Central Harley-Davidson and Donnell's Motorcycles.

In closing, I asked this experienced group of rider coaches if there was anything else they would like to share with our readers and for those who are thinking about taking an MSF course. Everyone agree that before taking a BRC you should be proficient at riding a bicycle to help ensure you have the proper balance and agility to safely ride and operate a motorcycle. They also suggested that you don't go out and buy a motorcycle that may be too large for your first bike, and don't buy an overly expensive motorcycle because many new riders are afraid of dropping their bike and damaging it. It was also brought up that most experienced riders who have taken their courses as a refresher have left the class saying they learned something new that would make them a better rider. It was also suggested that for riders who don't get a chance to ride very often to practice in a parking lot before getting out on the road, because like anything you learn, if you don't use it, you lose it!

I want to thank Carla and all the rider coaches for taking the time out of their busy day to meet with Nichole and me and for sharing this very interesting and valuable information with us and our readers. So if you've been thinking about taking an MSF course and would like to learn from some of the best, stop by the Community Education Building (CEB) at Kansas City Kansas Community College or give Carla a call at (913) 288-7189 for more information.

By Mike Schweder and Nichole Williams.