Do you crave the freedom of the open road? Motorcycle maven Julie Gelsinger will be teaching riders how to navigate with confidence at Carroll Community College this April.
“Julie’s very conscientious about the students' experience,” said Kathy Mayan, Carroll Community College’s Director of Lifelong Learning. “She makes sure the students feel safe and comfortable and that they get the most out of the class.”
Mayan said a motorcycle safety course is mandatory for anyone under 18 who wants to get a motorcycle license. She said the majority of Carroll Community College’s students are over 18 and want to learn in a safe environment.
“According to the MVA, 90 percent of riders who are involved in crashes didn’t have any formal training,” Mayan said. “We really encourage people to take the program regardless of your age or how long you’ve been riding.”
Carroll Community College offers a Motorcycle Safety & Licensure Review for the novice rider who has little or no riding experience. It includes classroom, an online component and riding instruction on the basic riding skills and strategies necessary to begin practicing street riding. No previous motorcycle riding experience is necessary. Students receive a Completion Certificate for their Class M designation upon successful completion. Program training motorcycles are provided.
The college is also offering a new a half-day on-cycle Basic Rider Course for riders to practice their basic skills. There is no formal classroom instruction. Motorcycles and helmets are provided. Completion of the course does not earn a license test waiver, and will not qualify the student for an insurance discount. Both classes begin in mid-April and run through October.
“Julie has been teaching for quite some time,” Mayan said. “She brings a different perspective because she’s a female coach.”
Gelsinger said early in her career, she encountered a few individuals who felt that either age or gender denoted seniority.
“I realized quickly that my knowledge and confidence in teaching far surpassed that mentality,” Gelsinger said. “I’m now one of two women instructors at Carroll Community College.”
Gelsinger, of Hanover, Pennsylvania, said she likes it when students have an “I-want-to-do-this” attitude.
“They need to be intrinsically motivated to gain knowledge of motorcycles and practice the skills to become an avid motorcyclist,” Gelsinger said.
Gelsinger said when students start the class, they’re not able to ride on the road unless they have a permit and are riding with another rider.
“The best way in Maryland to get motorcycle endorsement is to do a continuing education course,” she said. “There are also classes at some motorcycle dealerships.”
There are 12 students in Carroll Community College’s motorcycle safety classes each session with two instructors, she said. After completing an e-course and 10 classroom activities, Gelsinger said riders are taught to navigate with using a “building block approach.”
“We read the exercise, show them the demo, and then they go out and practice it with feedback from us,” she explained. “Repetition is where the learning happens. That progression through the exercises helps them gain the confidence and skills to be comfortable on the road.”
Gelsinger, who started riding in 1998, said she strives to be honest with her students.
“I provide positive feedback,” she said. “I only have a job because they want to learn to ride. My mentality is, ‘How can I help you?’”
Missy Morrison, Harley-Davidson of Frederick’s Riding Academy program manager who works with Gelsinger, said Gelsinger has a “passion for teaching.”
“She understands how people learn,” Morrison said. “She focuses in on the individual to help them the way they need to be helped. She helps them achieve things through encouragement rather than negativity. Rather than explaining what they’re doing wrong, she gives them feedback so they can achieve their goals.”
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Said Gelsinger: “I just enjoy passing on my knowledge.”