Ride to Live January 14th 2017

I had the pleasure of taking the Ride to Live Class sponsored by the Hawthorne Police Department. I would consider myself an experienced rider. I am a former motorcycle road racer. I raced 600 Supersport, 600 Superstock, GTU and 250 GP. I competed in events sanctioned by, American Federation of Motorcyclist (AFM), Willow Springs Motorcycle Club (WSMC), Championship Cup Series (CCS) and American Motorcyclist Association ( AMA Pro Racing).

I retired from racing in 2004. A few months ago I started riding again for the first time in over ten years. I purchased a Harley Davidson Soft tail Heritage. I quickly realized this is not the race type bike I was used to. Another thing I was not used to was maneuvering this behemoth in close quarters. I saw a flyer for “Ride to Live” on the Hawthorne Police Department’s Facebook Page. I emailed Lieutenant Ti Goetz and expressed my interest in the class. Lucky for me there was a cancellation that allowed me to attend.


I arrived at the class location. There was “Ride to Live” sign on the street marking the class location. Pulling into the parking area, I was greeted with a cornucopia of motorcycles. There were cruisers, sport bikes & touring bikes of every shape and size. After I parked, I walked over to the registration area. I signed the waiver and provided the staff with my Class M1 License and proof of insurance. Upon completion of registration I grabbed some water and a doughnut that was provided for the students and staff.


Lt. Goetz explained the syllabus for the day. The initial setup for day was three courses or “pads”. Each pad was set up to teach a different aspect of close quarters maneuvering. The class was divided into three groups with each group reporting to a different pad.

Pad of Tears

My group reported to the pad dedicated to U-Turns. Our instructor gave a demonstration and then instruction. The first evolution was a 26 foot U-Turn. How hard could that be? I quickly found out. The student before me dropped his bike. Brimming with confidence, I attempted the maneuver. Clutch, check……Throttle, Check …. Look where you want to go, Oops didn’t turn my head around far enough….. I ran a bit wide. Before long Lt. Goetz had me doing U-Turns in 26, 22 and 19 foot circles.

The Rest of the Pads

The remainder of the morning consisted of evolutions on the other pads. Each pad built on the skills learned from the prior evolution.


We were treated to a catered Tri-Tip sandwich lunch with soda, water or ice tea. The lunch was served by the helpful staff of cadets.
Afternoon Evolutions
The afternoon evolutions dealt with

  • Emergency Braking
  • Emergency swerving
  • Real life U-Turn situations.


The Finale

The final evolution was an exercise in cornering. A course was set-up with a little of everything.

  • Increasing Radius Turns
  • Closing Radius Turns
  • Slow Speed Turns

The day ends

Everyone had a great time. My confidence with low speed turning has greatly increased. A great day of riding with lunch and drinks provided. I would recommend this class to anybody that rides. Executing just one of the skills learned in the class could save your life.
I would like to thank LT. Goetz his staff and the Hawthorne Police Department for hosting “Ride to Live”.

David Hawks
AMA 250 GP 155