When you’re in a car, you view the scenery, you see it through the window – it’s like watching it on TV. When you’re on a motorcycle, you feel the wind, you smell everything, you’re like part of it instead of just watching it. You have freedom and it’s just exhilarating.
My name is Dave Tolbert. I own Motorcycle Training Academy. We have sites in Pueblo, Canyon City, Colorado Springs, and Aurora, Colorado.
I was 17 years old when I joined the army. When I was leaving Germany at 19 years old, some friends of mine were buying motorcycles. So, peer pressure: I bought a motorcycle. I didn’t want to admit that I didn’t know how to ride a motorcycle. So, when we got to Texas to pick up the motorcycle, we went to the dealership and I hopped on the bike and did a wheelie on my Harley and almost hit a wall. Luckily my friends were standing around and they caught the motorcycle and I was like, “Oh no, no, I know what I’m doing. It was just a, just a fluke.”
I rode for 10 years, had several accidents, close calls, lucky to be alive. When I got to Fort Carson, Colorado in 2001, the Army kind of caught up with me and made me take a class.
I took that class and realized, wow, I really didn’t know what I was doing. I’m lucky to be alive. So I learned a lot in that class. And when I was taking the class, they asked me: did I want to become an instructor? So, I became an instructor and thought that I knew everything I needed to know. Then the Motorcycle Safety Foundation sent me to become an instructor trainer so I could train other instructors and I learned a whole bunch more that I didn’t even know was out there. Then I thought I knew everything. Then they sent me to a track course. I never been on a track, never been on a sport bike, and realized how much more that I really didn’t know. And the, the more I do learn, the more I realize that I, that I don’t know what I’m doing. So I really want to pass that on to the riders, especially in Colorado.
For novice riders, I think it’s better that they take a class. Number one, not everybody at the end of the class decides they like motorcycling. So it’s better to spend a few hundred bucks on a class instead of going out and spend 10, 20 grand or whatever on a motorcycle and then decide you don’t like it. Also, during the class, we have people drop the motorcycles, they’re training bikes. They, they get dropped. We don’t charge people to any extra money for dropping a motorcycle. Whereas if they went out and bought a bike and tried to learn on it and they drop it, it’s going to cost them at least a few hundred dollars every time they dropped the bike, if not more. Or they get on traffic and they get hurt or worse. And we have professional instruction. They’re going to get good class feedback. They’re going to learn a lot.
We’ve been working with Rider Justice for probably about a decade. They’ve been helping us out. We do a lot of joint ventures. We’re really excited about this project. They’re taking some students that have never ridden from the preparation phase through hopefully the classes after this course and showing how they develop and how it makes riders safer.
I like working with Scott because he’s not an ambulance chaser attorney. His, firm in my opinion, really wants to help riders. He does a lot of charities, he does a lot of donations to help riders.
Today we have four individuals that were registered and sent to us by Rider Justice. One individual has never ridden before. One of the individuals has a good bit of experience, I think up to a decade and has several bikes. One individual is, Scott O’Sullivan and they’re all coming to the class at different skill levels, different experiences. It’s going to be very interesting to see their feedback at the end with those different levels of experience.
They’re going to learn a lot. And then at the end of this class, it does waive all testing at the Colorado DMV for their motorcycle endorsement. It is illegal to ride a motorcycle without the endorsement in Colorado. We have a good working relationship with the local law enforcement agencies and they are starting to impound motorcycles for people who don’t have a license. The fatalities in Colorado are anywhere between a hundred to 125 every year. And a good proportion of those are unlicensed, which indicates untrained. And in my opinion, motorcycling is counterintuitive. A lot of the things you’re just not going to figure out on your own.
I didn’t, I would never have figured out counter-steering or things like a counter weighting if somebody hadn’t shown them to me. And I would think that that’s pretty common among riders. We get that a lot. We train about 2000 people a year and riders who’ve been riding for decades come out of the class and say, “wow, I learned a lot in this class.” We want to pass that information along before they get out on the street.