Guzmán has a
license to go hog wild
He’s always dreamed of
it, now he has one
Wade Byars, The Desert
Richard Guzmán, among
other students, takes instruction from Alton Stevens (right) of La Quinta,
former owner of Coachella Valley Motorcycle Training, in the parking lot of
Cathedral City High School.
Become a biker
The Basic Rider Course is offered every weekend until May. The course
requires a weekday five-hour classroom session and 10 hours of riding time.
Motorcycles and helmets for use in the course are included in your course
fee. Fees range from $150 for students under 21 to $235 for others depending
on the training site. Most motorcycles used in the course are loaned by
local dealers and are either 125cc or 250cc.
To make an appointment call 574-9169.
For experienced riders using their own motorcycles, CVMT teaches techniques
to manage traction, stop quickly, cornering and swerving, increasing
visibility and optimizing lane position.
To make an appointment call 574-9169
The Desert Sun
April 12, 2006 April 12, 2006
was because the movie "Easy Rider" made choppers look so cool.
it's the desire to be an outlaw; a modern-day urban rebel. For some reason,
I've always loved motorcycles.
Unfortunately, my outlaw ways were shattered early in life when I attempted
to ride a friend's scooter but instead sent it flying directly into a tree.
then the idea of being a biker started to slowly fade away and I filed it in
the "I could have been," section of my life, along with being a rock star
I'll never develop the talent to be a rocker, and as a newspaper reporter
the rich part is pretty much out of the way, but recently, my biker dreams
were reunited thanks to a challenge from Halle Fetty of Valley V Twin
Motorcycles in Indio.
challenged me to become a biker and learn how to ride a motorcycle.
the instructors at Coachella Valley Motorcycle Training could teach anyone
how to ride a motorcycle.
Steppenwolf's "Born to be Wild," started playing in my head. And yes, I was
finally ready to get my motor running, to "head out on the highway, looking
for adventure or whatever came my way."
Alton Stevens, the owner of the motorcycle school, and he set me up for a
going to be an intense beginners class with a five-hour classroom session
and a 10-hour riding course.
asked the class about our experience level.
varied from a guy who rode his Harley there but wanted to get an actual
motorcycle license to a woman who asked if the bikes had training wheels and
even one know-it-all who thought he was the assistant teacher.
cringed when I told him I could barely ride a bicycle.
In fact, I
bought a bicycle last year to get a little better at it. It's an old beach
cruiser and I put chopper-style handle bars on it to make it look like a
But on my
first ride down Palm Canyon I was almost hit by a truck, I fell down twice
and nearly crashed into the Sonny Bono fountain.
as you have some balance you can learn to ride," he assured me.
some balance, sometimes.
I was a
little bit more nervous after the part of the class that focuses on safety
and what could happen to you if you're not careful.
Alton was a great teacher and very encouraging and he assured us he was
going to do everything possible to teach us to avoid a "gravity incident."
very much to avoid a gravity incident so I paid attention in class and
passed the written test easily.
I was now
a little more confident and ready to ride.
We met two
days later at the Cathedral City High School parking lot for the weekend
started pumping when I saw the bikes lined up waiting to be ridden.
assigned a small Kawasaki, the smallest cruiser you can legally ride on the
streets. But to me, it was my hog.
encouraged us to name our bikes, so my hog became The Hog.
to turn them on and get them in neutral. We got the feel of the clutch and
finally, after what seem forever, we were ready to ride.
with walking the bike, then slowly released the clutch and at Alton's
instruction I put both feet up and I was finally a biker, cruising at a
steady 10 miles per hour.
several safety techniques the first day, including how to break, how to
properly turn and we also did a dreaded slow-speed U-turn.
pretty good at almost everything except for this U-turn.
like I was going to end up on my back like I did with my bicycle on Palm
Canyon, except this time there was going to be hundreds of pounds of metal
on me after The Hog ends up on top of me.
survived the U-turn and couldn't stop smiling when we finally went into
third gear and hit a nail-biting 18 mph, my fastest speed of the weekend.
day was a lot more fun as we learned to maneuver curves, swerve to avoid
road hazards and we even went over 2x4 pieces of wood to simulate going over
to get the DL389 certificate from Alton that allows students to go to the
DMV and skip the riding portion of the motorcycle test, we had to pass an
evaluation at the end of the weekend.
evaluation was going to include a braking test, a swerving test, going
around some curves and the dreaded slow U-turn.
everything else wouldn't be a problem but if we dropped the bike at any
point, including the U-turn, it would be an automatic fail.
suddenly very nervous at the thought of ending up on my back next to The
Hog, but outlaws aren't supposed to show fear so I went on, got up to second
gear and started the maneuver.
wobbly the whole time, I went outside the boundary line and looked like a
little kid learning to ride a two-wheeler for the first time.
didn't drop The Hog. I was still so nervous that I messed up almost every
I hit a
cone during the swerve and went too slow around he curves, although I did
stop on time.
I was going to fail but Alton announced that the whole class had passed.
like that, I was finally a real biker - parking lot certified, license
I did get
the worst grade in the class and would have failed if I had done even one
more tiny thing wrong, but Alton, always reassuring, told me that even the
doctor who graduates with the lowest grade from medical school is still
called a doctor.
call me Dr. Outlaw, and as soon as I get my bike, I'm going to ride it past
my record 18 miles per hour.
hope I don't end up on the receiving end of an emergency room.