My Experience in the BRC
Fort Riley Public Affairs Office
Fort Riley, Kansas
When I wanted to learn to ride a motorcycle, I set out to discover how “basic” the Basic RiderCourse (BRC) offered here at Fort Riley really was. You see, I was going to need a very basic, from the beginning, baby-step-by-step-style course if I was ever going to become a rider.
At the age of … well, let’s just say somewhere in my fifties, I didn’t know if I even could learn, but I was still going to try. My husband and I bought ourselves bikes and we were determined to learn to ride. I drove his and then mine up our gravel driveway and back only to lay each one down in the grass as I came to a stop. No harm was done to me or the bikes, but it showed me that I needed some help if I was ever going to get out of the driveway. And I wanted to get out and see some of the backroads of Kansas on a motorcycle.
I was sort of on my own — or so I thought. In came the BRC, which is offered through a contract administered by the garrison safety office. Learning at just my speed. This is the same mandatory course Soldiers who want to ride must take. It is also the same course offered off post for about $350. This year, the contract on post changed and it allows Department of Defense civilian employees who work on Fort Riley to take the course on a standby, space-available basis. So, I asked and stood by. It took about four or five months before it worked out and I could attend.
When the call came that I had a space, I was excited and terrified in equal measure. I knew I was old enough to be the class grandma and my reflexes were not going to be as fast as those 20-somethings; but I also knew that if I was ever going to learn, I had to do it before I was too old to enjoy the experience.
I arrived at class for the first of two days in the nick of time. I got signed in and met the instructors and my classmates. One Airman, nine Soldiers and this Department of the Army civilian checked into class at 7 a.m. It didn’t take long for me to realize that every member of the class was younger than my youngest child. To say I felt out of my element was a bit of an understatement. But let me tell you about the young people in my class. They encouraged me — a lot. They inspired me to try and cheered for me and each other at each milestone with a beep from the horns on the lesson bikes. I think the camaraderie is the best thing about taking this class on post.
The second cool thing was that two out of three of our instructors were a couple in their 70s. That inspired me a lot. Not only were they older and still riding, but they really knew their stuff and how to share their experience and techniques beyond what the textbook offered.
I learned to control the bike, keep it upright and enjoyed doing it. I learned about clutch and throttle and brakes and all the things that make a safe and enjoyable ride. And I learned that motorcycle riding was definitely something for me. I believe that is the biggest thing about the course. You don’t have to have a bike or know how to ride to participate. What this class does is give you the chance to see if riding is really for you or not. It does so free of charge and with a minimal time investment of two full days of instruction.
The instruction starts with how to get on the bike and builds from there. Within an hour of the first day on the bike, we were riding. The skills taught and practiced were increasingly more complex as the course progressed, but the instructors ensured we were all comfortable with the tasks.
By the end of the second day, we had taken our written test and completed the riding skills exam. Everyone in the class passed and earned the certificate. Even me. That certificate allowed me to go to the licensing office and get my motorcycle endorsement.
I still need miles and practice, but I took my first solo ride on one of those Kansas backroads and it felt so good. If I can do this, so can you. If you have ever even thought about riding, the Basic RiderCourse is a great way to see if it really is the activity for you. The course is mandatory for Soldiers who want to ride because it makes safer, more confident riders. However, this class was also the most fun I’ve had in a mandatory training event in a very long time. So, get enrolled, pack some water and your sunscreen and go have some mandatory fun on the Army’s dime.