RCCC teaches safe motorcycling

Instructor Sheila Bruce, left, steps back as she gives directions to the class with her husband, Barry Bruce, right, watching from behind.
Instructor Sheila Bruce, left, steps back as she gives directions to the class with her husband, Barry Bruce, right, watching from behind. Marty Price

Whether you’ve been riding for years or if you are just starting out, the Motorcycle Safety Basic Rider Course at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College can help you to be a safe rider. If you’re wondering if motorcycle riding is for you, this class can answer that question without all of the expense.

Instructor Barry Bruce said the school provides motorcycles for the course. Participants are required to provide a DOT-approved helmet and must wear a long-sleeve shirt or jacket, long pants – with no holes – over ankle boots, plus full-finger gloves and eye protection for the three-day course. “And you’re required to know how to ride a bicycle,” said Bruce.

Wearing all that clothing made things hot for the students on July 17. As temperatures reached into the 90s, sweat dripped as they maneuvered their bikes through the cones in the parking lot of the college.

During one of the water breaks, Rockwell resident Megan Eagen, 59, explained why she was learning to ride: “My husband recently got back into riding and bought a Harley. I want to ride too and they teach you to be safe.”

Being a first-time rider, Eagen said, “I think it is good information for any rider. I was surprised yesterday. I got up and actually rode the bike. I was so happy.”

Bruce and his wife, Sheila Bruce, were working together for this class, but they don’t always teach together. Over 10 years, the couple has taught more than 2,400 people to ride safely. There are 10 alternating instructors, who teach the course at both RCCC and Central Piedmont Community College.

Students learn the strategies used for riding in traffic, along with the skills needed to adjust the motorcycle’s path to avoid accidents.

Lead instructor Donna Fisher started the classes, co-sponsored by the N.C. Motorcycle Safety Program, at RCCC in 1993 and CPCC in 1994. The courses are offered weekends, year-round, until the weather turns cold. The classes consist of three-hour in-class instruction Thursday nights, followed by a full day of riding the motorcycles, with instruction, Saturdays and Sundays. The skills test at the end of class Sunday afternoons caps off the classes.

Each student must pass a written test and a riding skills test to receive a card that shows they completed the course. When they take the card to the N.C. DMV, they get a waiver for the driving test and must only pass the written exam to get their motorcycle endorsement on their license.

Once they have their endorsement they can start practicing the techniques they have learned to become a skillful, safe rider.

The course is also good for the more experienced riders who may already have their license. “You don’t always know everything. Rules for safe driving change over time. Everybody who has taken our course has told me they learned something,” said Barry Bruce.

“Sometimes it is cleaning up bad habits or not using proper technique, Sheila Bruce said. “Sometimes the safety aspects brought to mind are ones that they had never really thought about before.

“If you get to the point that you think you know it all, or you lose respect for the motorcycle, it’s time to park it until you realize you don’t know it all. You can always learn to improve your skill.”

Sheila instructed her students, “What you learn here and what you do on the road can give you the control to save your lives.”

If graduates would like to refresh the skills they learned in the basic rider course, they can come back, after a few thousand miles and a few months of riding, for a one-day refresher course called BRC II and use their own motorcycle.

Marty Price is a freelance writer:

Learn more:

There is a registration fee of $179 for the Motorcycle Safety Basic Rider Course. Classes are held at the RCCC South Campus in Concord, Building 3000, Room 3211.

The next weekend of basic rider classes at RCCC will be 6-9 p.m. Aug. 6, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 8 and 8 a.m-5 p.m. Aug. 9. The course will also be offered Aug. 20-23.

For details or to register:

Information on the N.C. Motorcycle Safety Program: