A couple of years ago, someone told Pam Kotzeff, “You’re getting too old to do that.” Kotzeff doesn’t remember specifically what it was she was told she was too old to do, but she does remember how she felt.
“It ticked me right off!”
From that day forward, Kotzeff vowed to do anything that sounded exciting or might be perceived as something she was too old to do.
She tried horseback riding. . ..she tried zip-line riding. . ..she looked fondly at a motorcycle and thought, “I wonder. . .”
Kotzeff had never ridden a motorcycle, but the idea was thrilling. Her husband, however, was an experienced motorcycle rider – he had reservations about his wife’s sense of balance. Two years ago, a Cam-Am Spyder three-wheeler passed them on the road. Her face lit up. This past spring, he bought her a steel-blue Spyder.
Kotzeff is turning 60 this fall and among a growing league of Baby Boomers, especially women, who have been attracted to the three-wheeled motorcycles. She’s a member of Girls on Spyders, a mostly internet-based group that had 400 members when she joined in April. It has since more than doubled its membership and is growing daily. Kotzeff lives in a small community near Owen Sound and is part of a group that has travelled almost every road on the Bruce Peninsula on their Spyders.
“It’s just been a blast,” she says, laughing. “It’s something I never thought I’d do, but it’s so much fun. The people riding Spyders are 40 and up, generally. We have a great time.”
The Can-Am Spyder, introduced in 2007 by Bombardier Recreational Products, is one of the most innovative new vehicles on the road. Georgian College is the only place in Ontario offering training and licensing. Georgian worked closely with Bombardier and was the sole Ontario licensing facility for 2013. The college has 11 of the units on loan from local dealers such as St. Onge Recreation in Barrie, Factory Recreation in Midland and Northland Recreation in Muskoka.
Since it started offering training this past May, Georgian has trained and licensed more than 120 people. Courses continue until late October for this season of training.
The three-wheeled motorcycle has a single rear drive wheel and two wheels in front for steering, similar in
layout to a snowmobile. The Spyder design includes two wheels in the front and one wheel in the back and requires a rider to go through the motorcycle graduated licensing with modification to operate.
“It’s different than a regular motorcycle,” says Kotzeff. “My husband doesn’t have to worry about my sense of balance, because there’s no balancing involved. It’s wonderful to drive and there’s lots of room for two people.”
The vehicle is popular with people who have never driven a motorcycle before – and more than 25 per cent of owners are women. Buyers are attracted by its abs braking, traction, stability control, comfort, size and storage capabilities.
Anyone thinking about buying a Spyder can take a two-hour session at the Barrie Campus of Georgian College. This will teach participants how to operate, brake and control a Can-Am Spyder and then take one for a drive, under the supervision of certified instructors on a closed course. No licence is required for the test drive, but riders must wear safety equipment. The minimum age is 21 and the cost is $75.
Those wishing to obtain their licence may take a 10-hour training course designed to teach novices or experienced riders. This includes basic skills such as turning, shifting gears, effective braking and controlling vehicle speed, with more advanced skills of braking and obstacle avoidance. It also includes classroom learning. Skill evaluation is conducted at the end of the course by Ministry of Transportation-approved signing authorities at the college. The cost for the licensing program is $439.
For more information on Spyder training at Georgian College, call 705-728-1968, ext. 5255 or email email@example.com.