While the written motorcycle test is exactly the same and must be taken at the DMV, the riding skills test for the CA DMV is different than the test taken at the end of the safety course. The DMV asks the rider to identify five controls: starter, engine cutoff, clutch, throttle and gear shifter. Then, the rider must demonstrate specific riding skills on their course: serpentine or weave in and out of five cones about five feet apart, circle both left and right staying inside painted lines, slow ride in a straight line, gear shift up and down during a ride, and break smoothly to a complete stop. If you go outside the lines or put your foot down during any part of the course, the test is over. You fail.
In the safety course riding test you must demonstrate similar skills, however, it is a much longer and grueling test. None of us would learn if we pass or fail until the conclusion of all tests. A couple of riders dropped a foot down during the tougher skills, and every one of us felt for them in that moment. During the gear shift up, then corner and break quickly/smoothly test, I scraped the right peg on the asphalt and thought for sure I failed. That fear was only slightly tempered by the pure joy of riding that low on the little Kawasaki Eliminator.
About an hour later, after all of us had been through every skills test and one large traffic simulation evaluation, Walter Champion asked us to line up the bikes and shut them down. He instructed all six of us to raise our right hands. Then, he proceeded to walk down the line slapping our gloved mitts. Congratulations. We passed.
A combination of thoughts and feelings filled me. I was elated, relieved, and a little terrified. Great, I passed. Now what?