LRN2RYD teaches new motorcyclists how to ride

The summer may be winding down, but motorcyclists are still out enjoying the snow-free roadways while they can.

The National Highway and Safety Administration reported in 2006 that 4,810 motorcyclists were killed in traffic accidents. In light of several motorcycle fatalities that have rocked Illinois in recent months, including a fatal crash in Libertyville at the beginning of July, there is a Vernon Hills-based motorcycle training school out to help keep riders safe.

LRN2RYD will get interested riders on a motorcycle, teach them how to ride safely and help them get licensed.

Motorcycle enthusiast Larry Scalzitti, a retired Navy serviceman and former Stevenson High School math teacher, started the business three years ago. He believed that there was a need for a program with a smaller class size and more time on the motorcycle.

"There's nothing like being on the bike and letting the wheels turn," he said.

LRN2RYD's basic rider course is 20 hours long and held over four days. One hour per day is dedicated to coursework while the rest is spent weaving through cone-lined courses on a motorcycle. Scalzitti said time spent on a motorcycle is about 12 to 14 hours.

Comparatively, the Northern Illinois University Motorcycle Safety Project states that its basic rider course, scheduled for 22 hours, includes five hours of classroom instruction and 10 hours of on-cycle instruction.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Motorcycle Rider Program is schedule for 20 hours with eight hours in the classroom and 12 hours on-cycle.

Besides creating a program with plenty of on-cycle time, Scalzitti said he wanted to provide smaller class sizes. LRN2RYD caps classes at four students. Gurnee's Natasha Panagiotopolous said she appreciated the more individualized attention when she took the class in August. She said she found herself calling Scalzitti whenever she had a question.

Scalzitti said that's the way an instructional class should be.

"It should be all about you," he said. "There are people in some classes with no experience, some experience and some classes only teach to the person in the middle. It's boring to the person with more experience and intimidating for the one with little."

He said he wants to work with everyone's skill level and not turn anyone off from riding motorcycles.

Julia Jackalone of Mundelein said she took the class in order to get her license and she found the instruction she received helped her get comfortable riding her motorcycle.

"I bought a motorcycle first and then decided to learn how to ride it," she said. "[The class has] helped us learn about safety and the dangers out there."

Scalzitti said motorcycle season ranges from April to November. LRN2RYD holds classes throughout the season, usually in the Hawthorn Westfield Mall parking lot. The Basic Rider Program costs $399 and includes the use of a motorcycle.

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