An interview with Russ Holly. His role: Motorcycle coach
1. What is the name of the class that you teach?
It’s called the Basic Riding Course and the curriculum is put together by Motorcycle Ohio, which is a section of the Department of Public Safety.
2. What do you teach in this class?
Oh, we teach a lot, but basically it is familiarization with the motorcycle, basic skills of riding like starting, stopping, clutch operation, and risk management.
3. Do you have to have your own motorcycle to take the class?
No, the state provides the motorcycles that Apollo uses. Basically, $6 of every license fee is used to fund the program. You do have to have a valid temporary motorcycle license though before you start the class.
4. How old do you have to be to take the class?
We teach 15-year-olds up to, I think the oldest was 86 years old.
5. How long has Apollo had this class available?
I started this class with another guy, John Mason, in 1987. Between the two of us, we taught 20 classes. Now, I teach primarily in the summer since I teach and coach track during the school year. I probably teach between four to eight classes during that time.
6. How long is the class?
Originally, the class back in 1987 was 22 hours long, but now it is 16 hours. That breaks down to about four hours of class instruction and 12 hours of riding.
7. How many are in each class?
The maximum number is 12. Most of our classes are full and there is a waiting list to get in. One of the reasons for that is because at the end of the class, if you successfully complete the course, you get a card that waives you from having to take the state test for your license. The class only costs $25. A lot of insurance companies also give you a discount for taking a safety course.
8. Did you have to have any special training to teach this class?
One thing is you have to be an experienced motorcyclist and have ridden for a number of years. The instructional preparation course to teach this class was 70 hours. A lot of that was on how to teach the material. This is a very pupil-centered course.
9. How did you get interested in motorcycles?
I’ve had a passion for them since I was a young person. I don’t ride as much as I used to. I’ve done cross-country road trips, and I am also an off-road enthusiast. I used to race motorcycles, but I’ve gotten too old to do that anymore — which makes my wife happy.
10. Why did you decide to teach this class for so long?
One big thing for me is when you lose friends in accidents, either on the road or in racing, a passion comes to want to impart knowledge to be aware of the risks. I’ve had people come up to me and tell me I saved their life.
11. Have you had any close calls?
If you ride long enough, you’ll always have close calls. Inattentive drivers are the biggest danger, and of course, the higher traffic area you are in, the more risks there are.
12. Do you wear a helmet?
The helmet debate has been going on for years. As instructors, we are not obliged to get into the helmet debate, but we do have to sign something that says we will always wear safety equipment when we ride. I do tell riders that safety equipment is good, though. When you are on a cycle, you are more vulnerable. Anything that can decrease that vulnerability is a good thing.