Is the MSF course hard; will I be able to pass?

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Leon: I've sent a few people home; here's why...

Biggest reason is not showing up on time. If you're late for the course, I (as an instructor) cannot let you stay. If you have an accident after being late and missing part of the course, the program office says they'll hold me responsible for your injuries. That won't happen.

Riding a bike is an important skill. I've only had one person pass the course that had never ridden a bicycle. She had done a lot of practice on a little dirt bike at home and had taught herself to ride that.

Finally, you have to progress. When you fall so far behind the rest of the class that you endanger them, I cannot allow you to stay. The circle riding that happens on the first day is relatively difficult; if after a couple of hours you can't reliably make the bike go in the direction you want it to go, I have to pull you out of the course.

The only other thing I can think of is the one guy that I had to pull out because he completely lost confidence in both himself and us. He was riding quite well. He had been cautioned a couple of times to slow down and take it easy, but then he locked the front wheel and fell at about 15 mph. About 10 minutes later, the same thing happened again. After the second incident he wouldn't use the front brake anymore, plus he was so spooked by the first two falls that he wasn't paying attention to what we were trying to teach. I had to ask him to leave.

This year I've taught 3 courses, 10-12 people per course. All have completed the course and taken the riding test, but about 1 per class has failed the test. To my knowledge all of them passed the re-test when they returned the next week. Initial failure rate in Maryland is 10-20%. More than half of those that return pass the retest.

The best advice I can give you before taking this course is study the material before you get to class, and arrive in class ready to take the written test. That way you don't have to study at night. Get plenty of rest between sessions. This is a very physical class; sleep is more important than studying. If you live more than 20 miles from the course, consider getting a motel room, so you can rest instead of commuting. Finally, if it's hot, drink plenty of fluids; dehydration tires one out and gives muscle cramps.