Motorcycling in Maryland: Great Places to Ride Starting from Maryland
I have wanted to learn to ride a motorcycle for a very long time. As a teenager, I enjoyed road biking and participated in the Cycle Across Maryland (CAM) Tour, Sea Gull Century, and other rides. It was a great way to have fun and see the great outdoors. In August of 2006, I visited St. Michael's with my girlfriend Katie and we rented a scooter and saw the local area. Katie and I had a great time, and we decided to give motorcycling a try.
I look at the picture of me on a scooter and I think of all the things I do now to prevent the possibility of injury. On the scooter, Katie and I were good candidates for significant road rash or worse if we hit trouble. It is not that I was looking to take needless risks on the scooter, but rather that this was a single trip on the scooter in a tourist area. We had an orientation ride on the scooter to make sure that I could control it. Katie tried it for a bit, but she had trouble with the size of the scooter and reaching the ground to stabilize it when stopped. Our trip around the area was a lot fun and we crossed the water from Bellevue, Maryland to Oxford, Maryland on the ferry. We rode around Oxford and stopped for some delicious, locally made gelato.
As a result of our good experience on the scooter, Katie and I decided to sign up for a Riders Edge® motorcycle safety course. Annapolis Harley Davidson taught this Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) approved course near the end of September. During the time before the class started, I got several books on motorcycling and searched on the Internet. Since I am a Mechanical Engineer, I had to puzzle out the dynamics of counter steering for myself. I found Proficient Motorcycling and More Proficient Motorcycling by Hough particularly useful.
The classroom part of the Riders Edge® class was pretty straightforward. I found the tour through the facility interesting at times, but much of the overall content was obvious given the amount of reading I had done on the subject. Reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of actual products helped reinforce things taught in the course. By the end of the second day of classroom, Katie and I were ready to leave the classroom behind. The first range day was on Saturday, and it started with some additional classroom time. The material covered in this section was much more related to knowledge required to ride a motorcycle safely and the video demonstrating the scenarios was insightful.
Just before lunch, we had to complete the written exam. Katie and I both passed with perfect scores, and everyone in our class passed the test. In our class, we had several riders that already had experience, and that experience showed during the practical portion of the class. We went out to the Buell Blasts on the range. By the end of the first day on the Blasts, we were having a BLAST. The experience of riding a motorcycle for the first time was unique. In the very first parts without even having the engine running, it was similar to pushing around a heavy bicycle. Once the engine was used and maneuvers were performed everything changed. At the end of the first day on the motorcycles, Katie and I were tired and ready to have a good dinner. Our muscles were sore particularly the arms and clutch hand.
We were back in action the following day. This time the range time would last the entire day and no classroom sessions were scheduled. Katie and I were excited about the class and motorcycling, so we did not realize how tired we were until we got home. During the day, we practiced additional skills and had some time before the pratical test to practice all the things that would be tested. Taking the practical test on the motorcycles was far more difficult than passing the written test. We both made mistakes during this test that we did not make during practice. At the end of the day, we both passed the practical test, and later that week, we took our certificates to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to get our motorcycle endorsement.