To get a motorcycle license in Virginia, one either has to (1) take the written test and hold their permit for at least 30 days before taking and passing the riding test, or (2) take ridership training and pass the DMV written test. I've been pondering a motorcycle for a couple years now, so in 2006 it officially made my list of New Years resolutions. The wait to get into ridership class in Northern Virginia is almost six months, so I booked a weekend in Charlottesville, VA though the Abermarle County Community Workforce Program and made a hotel reservation.
The class is broken into several parts: there's classroom instruction Friday night with all 24 participants, then 12 people attend Saturday and Sunday morning while the other 12 attend Saturday and Sunday afternoon. The Saturday and Sunday classes are spent entirely on the bikes, and with only minimal instruction everybody understood all of the instructor's range signals and were able to move in formation. I understood pretty quickly how easy it can be to raise a militia (at least if said militia was composed of eager adults who spent the entire weekend giving each other a rash of shit). All of the bikes are 250cc -- two other guys and I rode Honda Rebels:
We joked that we should get Rebel tattoos that said "250 cc" on our biceps, then roll into a biker bar and order a couple Miller Lights.
One of my classmates plays lacrosse for Duke. Two others were from the DC area (a black guy and his girlfriend) and cracked me up all weekend. Homeboy went right up to the lacrosse player at one point and said, "You seem cool, so I'm only going to say this once: I know how you Duke lacrosse players are with the sistas, so if I see you looking at my girlfriend I'll kill you motherfucker." Then smiled a huge, toothy smile and laughed.
In the end, everybody passed the riding skills exam and the written test. Our instructors were great, and everybody had great time. That said, the entire weekend was spent hearing about how expert riders who have been on bikes for decades make one small mistake and drop their bikes (or high-side, or low-side, or whatever). Personally I dropped the bike in class because I came to a complete stop and looked at my instructor.
I'm going to try and get over to DMV asap to take the written test and get licensed, but I'm going to hold off and think before I get a bike.