I had the opportunity a couple of weeks ago to attend the BMW Premier Rider Training session at BMW Headquarters in Greer, South Carolina . . . and truly had a fantastic weekend!!!
After spending a day or two with a friend in Charlotte, NC, I headed south and arrived at the Greenville Marriott just after 3:00 pm on Thursday and checked into my room which the Training Program had reserved for me. After taking some time to settle in and unpack, the participants met in the lobby at 5:45 pm, and we boarded the shuttle bus for the MOA Headquarters. We were a diverse group from all around the US, even including a rider from Hawaii!
Arriving at the MOA Headquarters, we were greeted by Bob and Sue Aldridge, Ted Moyer, and two of our instructors. We enjoyed a very tasty meal, and then gathered in the small meeting room for an orientation and review session to prepare us for the next day’s training activities.
On Friday morning, breakfast was available at the restaurant in the Marriott, after which the group jumped back on the shuttle bus for the short ride over the BMW Performance Training Center. We gathered with our gear in a classroom, were introduced to our four instructors for the day, and were divided into two groups of eight riders each. Then it was out to the staging area to jump on our bikes in preparation for the morning training session.
I was assigned to the Off-Road training group for the morning . . . and after a quick orientation, we headed out for the short ride to the Off-Road training area. It was a challenging morning on the gravel and dirt, but it was a lot of fun, and I felt like I really gained some very useful new skills. I have minimal experience riding off-road, and after some initial exposure over the past couple of years, decided that off-road riding just wasn’t for me. But after this four-hour session with great instruction and the opportunity to struggle a little, drop the motorcycle, and then get up and keep going . . . I must admit I want to reconsider learning to ride off the pavement!
Lunch was provided by BMW at the Performance Center cafeteria, and again, there was no lack of good food! Then it was back to the classroom briefly, and back out for the afternoon training session.
Having spent the morning session in the Off-Road area, the afternoon was set up on part of the extensive paved track area for some On-Road training. I’ve been a motorcyclist for more than 45 years now and am sure I’ve covered a few hundred thousand miles on pavement in the United States and Canada, but I struggled with some of the exercises we worked on, especially the slow speed handling maneuvers. Many of my classmates agreed, it was a very humbling afternoon! There are many skills I need to practice and much more I can learn to become a more competent rider.
By the end of the day, I was exhausted . . . it was sunny and almost too warm during the afternoon (although being a Mainer, I’m not gonna’ complain about warm in late October) . . . and the day was both intense and almost overwhelming. In some respects, there was almost too much information presented to ever absorb in one day, yet at the same time, it was a great one-day course, and helped me both improve my skills and realize there’s much more I can learn!
Completing our day at the Rider Training facility, we headed back to our hotel to relax and clean up, after which we were treated to a great buffet dinner with our classmates, and with the BMW MOA Board of Directors and the BMW MOA Foundation Board of Directors. It was very enjoyable to get to meet many of the folks we often only see in the MOA Owners News, learn about their backgrounds, and have the chance to learn about what’s going on behind the scenes in the MOA!
Breakfast was available again at the Marriott on Saturday morning, and then most of the riders packed up and headed towards home. I elected to stay for the day, heading over to the BMW Heritage Museum to see the BMW 100 Years Motorcycle exhibit where there was also a reception for the MOA Board of Directors and the MOA Foundation Board of Directors. Light snacks and drinks were provided at the Museum, and the reception culminated with Ted Moyer and Louise Powers picking the winner of the “One Ticket You Pick It” Sweepstakes! I will admit that it was very disappointing not to win the new motorcycle (I mean there were only just over 14,000 entries), but even so, a great afternoon in Greer! And then . . . it was time to head home.
Looking back, it was a great weekend in South Carolina! The BMW Premier Rider Training course was intense, and maybe just a little too much to take in in a day. But I came away with thoughts that I really do want to return to Greer to take the two-day Off-Road training course so I can become comfortable riding off road, and that I’m not as competent a street rider as I assumed I was after more than 45 years of riding! I was overdue for some ongoing rider training . . . and now I have a much better idea of the things I need to work on! And where else can you meet some great motorcycle riders, have so much fun, have your accommodations and food all taken care of for you, and train on someone else’s bike? The folks at the BMW Premier Rider Training Center sure know how to do it right! I will be going back . . .