Registration now open in Thornton
Registration Now Open in Thornton!

Our Staff and RiderCoaches

RiderCoaches

All RiderCoaches at Motorcycle Training Academy are seasoned riders and have been hand-selected for their experience, attitude, ability and dedication to excellence in training. Each RiderCoach has been certified by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and the Colorado Motorcycle Operator's Safety Training program through an intensive process including 75+ hours of hands-on training. All RiderCoaches are regularly evaluated and also attend annual skill updates.

Click any RiderCoach to read their bio.

  • Dave Tolbert

    As the owner of Motorcycle Training Academy I am blessed to be able to do what I love everyday!

    I retired from the Army after 20 years and was fortunate enough to started MTA. I now teach motorcycle classes full time to local students. I am a RiderCoach and RiderCoach Trainer and am certified in many of the MSF advanced courses, most notably the Advanced RiderCourse, 3-Wheel Courses and the Street RiderCourse. I recently served as a RiderCoach Trainer for the MSF RiderCoach Trainer Preparation Course.

    In my free time I also enjoy woodworking using the lathe and scroll saw, as well as spending time with my family. After almost 30 years of riding Harleys, I now ride a 2013 Goldwing. I really need a SportBike now.

  • Sonja Ballagut

  • Phil Chastagner

    Phil “Chaz” Chastagner grew up in Augusta, GA. His love for motorcycles started with his first job, sweeping floors in Vic Krenshaw’s Harley Davidson in Augusta. Although his parents hated motorcycles, Phil started riding at 14 and has never stopped. Riding is his passion. He tours on his Harley Davidson Road Glide in the US and has traveled “backcountry” in the US, Canada, Alaska, Mexico and South America on adventure bikes. While in the Marines he rode in Europe and Australia. Phil believes that educated riders are good and safe riders. “Educated and well trained riders are good for our motorcycle community.” Phil is a retired Marine SNCO and currently resides in Denver, CO and Spearfish, SD.

  • Stephanie Chastagner
    Stephanie Chastagner

  • Scott Eastman

  • Earl Edwards

    I started riding motorcycles in 1980 in Grand Rapids, MI. My first motorcycle was a 1980 Honda 500 CX Deluxe, modified with a Vetter fairing with radio and luggage rack. After returning from Germany, I bought my first Goldwing in El Paso TX. I took some safety classes to learn how to ride safely. After several tours overseas, my family and I settled in Colorado Springs, CO.

    I became instructor in 2001 to teach people how to ride safely. Over the years, I have owned five different Goldwing motorcycles. I currently ride a 2005 Anniversary model Goldwing. Ride safe and keep the shiny side up.

  • Tony Galles

    Tony's love for motorcycling began at the age of 14 when he worked after school and weekends for a BMW and Yamaha dealer. A military career kept him away from bike ownership at times, but his passion for motorcycling has endured. Tony is a BMW GS rider and a former PPIHC competitor. He'’'s ridden extensively in Europe and South America and enjoys helping others advance their riding skills.

  • Marc Gatto

    Certified as a Rider Coach Since 2016, Marc relocated to Colorado in 2019. An avid rider since an early age, he enjoys helping students reach and achieve their goals. His passion for the sport of motorcycling as well the opportunity to teach/coach @ MTA is a privilege and commitment he looks forward to.

  • Wayne Gilstrap

    Retired Army after 22 years Wayne has been riding since 1976, or before he could reach the pegs. His main reason for teaching is to watch individuals succeed and comprehend the reasoning behind the bike. Safety is his number one goal and will strive to reach this with every student. Wayne is happily married with two daughters and 1 granddaughter. In his free time he loves spending time with his family camping and traveling!

  • Max Hansen

  • Andrew Hastings

    Andy's love of motorcycles came from riding on the back of his dad's motorcycle from the age of 3 and touring through the Midwest and West. After completing the BRC at 17 he has been an avid motorcycle rider and owner himself, travelling throughout the US and with one tour through central Europe. Andy has been teaching motorcycle classes since 2016 and joined with MTA in August 2020 after moving to Colorado. He teaches to share his passion for safe motorcycling and to see the joy that student's get from learning to ride."

  • Amanda Henderson

    Amanda Henderson started riding in 2011, and has almost 200k miles on a motorcycle since that time. She began coaching in 2015

  • Chris Horton

    Chris got into motorcycles in 2008 while in Iraq; a co-worker introduced him to the sport and he was hooked. His previous experience as a kid were stealing a ride with his uncles on their dual-sport bikes. On his mid-tour leave from Iraq in June 2008, he took his BRC course and immediately started his riding career on a 1986 Honda Shadow 750 and a 2008 HD Super Glide. After a minor riding accident in 2010, Chris learned the value of honing his riding skills and completed the BRC2. His Army service limited his riding mileage, however, it has not stopped him from developing increased riding skills and perception and a deep passion to teach and share experiences with other riders. He now has over 40,000 miles logged and loves riding at every opportunity in all sorts of riding opportunities. He owns and maintains his 2014 HD Street Glide Special. Chris serves in the Army and expects to retire late next year. He spends his days facilitating rider safety training for the 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson as the senior motorcycle mentor. Chris has completed an advanced rider/mentor safety course (non-MSF), BRC and BRC2 (3 times) and looks forward to finishing the MSF suite of training courses as he continues to refine his skills. He started as a MSF RiderCoach in August 2019.

  • Kris Hower

  • Jewlz Ivary

    “In a car you're always in a compartment, and because you're used to it you don't realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You're a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame. On a cycle the frame is gone. You're completely in contact with it all. You're in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming.” - Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

    I have a patch on my vest that reads "This IS my Happy Place". Motorcycles are absolutely my happy place! Whether it's my Harley Fat Boy, my little Indian Scout, or my dirt bike, when I'm riding, I'm not sure what happens to all the noise in my head, but thoughts are no longer clamoring for attention. The shopping list, the bills, the work meeting next week, the thing I said to that random person 10 years ago… all of it slips away and it's just me, my machine and the road. I have found nothing else like it in life.

    Motorcycles are my form of therapy, moving meditation, my personal Zen, whatever you want to call it. On a bike is where I am most present in the moment and at peace. I get to feel fully alive and I love it! I feel engine vibrations, the wind on my face, the muscles in my body flexing and tensing as I plan for the next curve. There is a sense of freedom as scents of fresh cut grass or a coming rain storm or flowers in bloom mixed with random road kill assault my senses. The exhilaration as the world slips away behind me and the road opens up before me is inexplicable.

    I started teaching in order to share this love, this passion with other people. I hope you can find your own version of wind-therapy. Just don't smile too big - you'll get bugs in your teeth.

  • Garrett Larson

    Garrett is a Colorado native, born and raised here in the Springs. He was an Arabic and Pashtu (Afghan dialect) linguist for 10 years in the regular Air Force and is now working full time at Peterson AFB in the Reserves as a Personnel Systems Manager. Garrett's first experience with motorcycles as a young boy was riding on the back of his dad's touring bike and going camping in the mountains of Colorado. This instilled a desire to learn how to ride in him that was not realized until he was already over 30 in March 2013 when he took a Basic RiderCourse with MTA. He enjoyed the class and riding so much that he came back for the full line up of courses offered at MTA. He also fell in love and married his amazing RiderCoach, Leslie, later that year. They have four teenagers who hope to ride one day and carry on their parents' legacy (and inherit their bikes I'm sure!). Garrett has been a RiderCoach with MTA since May 2016 and you can catch him coaching all year long in many of our Basic, Advanced and Police Style (his favorite!!) RiderCourses. He started riding later in life than many, but he is passionate about riding and helping others get the most out of the experience and stay safe on the streets. He rides a Harley Softail Heritage Classic (pictured) and a Harley Ultra Classic Electra Glide (depending on his mood on which one he rides almost every day).

  • Leslie Larson

    After joining the Army in 1994 and travelling all over the world, Leslie ordered her first Harley-Davidson motorcycle from AAFES in Iraq. Upon return, she was ordered to take a BRC by her Chain of Command. She was asked to then become a RiderCoach. She has been a RiderCoach since 2005 and is also a certified motorcycle technician. She also now rides a Kawasaki Versys 650. Born and raised in a biker family, so say becoming a RiderCoach saved her life!

  • Tiffany Maestas

    When I was in my early 20’s, I was afraid of motorcycles and thought they were “too dangerous.” I didn’t realize back then how much fun and cathartic motorcycles can be. I like sharing my passion with others who are interested but maybe still a little intimidated. As a female rider, I like to help bring more women to the sport and give a different perspective on riding. I have been riding since 2008 and teaching since 2017. I hope to not just teach someone how to ride a motorcycle, but to give each students tools for their mind that will make them safer riders every day.

  • Dennis Mellinger

    Motorcycling has been a part of my life for more than 40 years. I've been a Motorcycle Safety Foundation Instructor since 2003 and enjoy every class that I teach. A 20 Year Retired US Air Force NCO, with tours in Texas, Okinawa, Viet Nam, Germany, Greece, Saudi Arabia and Maryland. I'm also a software troubleshooter for MCI & World Com, a security officer for Citadel Mall & US Olympic Training Center and a Motorcycle Rental Agent for Pikes Peak Harley-Davidson.

  • Dave Miles

    Dave was trained as an MSF RiderCoach 28 years ago while stationed in the Air Force at Peterson AFB, CO. In his long career, he helped re-activate the base motorcycle safety class at Lajes Field, Azores. He has also taught classes in Sacramento California and Shreveport Louisiana. After a couple of deployments due to 9/11, he was back teaching Robins AFB. Soon he was a RiderCoach leader at Robins AFB, driving a range/classroom move and developing quality control measures for all instructors to meet. In July 2008, he retired from the Air Force and returned back to Denver. Dave has been working with multiple companies in the past 12 years. He really enjoys coaching students to be their best and having fun in his classes. He is very interested in attending a RiderCoach Trainer class, so he can pass his knowledge and mentor new RiderCoaches.

  • Beverly Palumbo

    I’ve come to Motorcycle Training Academy from the western slope of Colorado and have really enjoyed my second summer of working as a RiderCoach. Riding motorcycles is more than a hobby for me, it’s a life style! I spent most of my time stirring up dirt and adventure riding my dirt bikes as a youngster. My first street bike I bought from my dad in 2008, a 2006 Harley Davidson Dyna Superglide and when I upgraded to a Street Glide in 2010 I have never looked back!!! 2011 I joined the Hardly Angels which was an all women’s motorcycle drill team. Eight years on the team taught me how to handle 800 pounds of motorcycle with 2-3 women on it like a small dirt bike. As a member on the team it sparked the idea to pass along my skills and knowledge to help make riders aware of the dangers and give them the skill needed to stay safe on the streets. Every day on the motorcycle is a day to learn something new while being a safe, cautious, and courteous rider!!!

  • Philip PLatt

  • Jeff Portwood

    Motorcycling has been a part of my life ever since I can remember holding on to the back of my Dad’s bike on the way to baseball practices. I earned my first dirt bike when I was eight years old and have been riding ever since. Hopefully that 1986 Honda XR80R is still making kids smile somewhere. Riding on the dirt or on the street is a passion that I love sharing with my family and friends. Also, being a rider coach allows me to share that passion and love with my students. I currently ride a Honda CBR929RR and a 1981 BMW R65 for my street fun. When playing in the dirt I take my KTM 250 EXC.

  • Jose Ramirez

  • Keogh Rash

  • Ed Ricord

  • Jessica Rider

    Growing up around several motorcycle-riding family members and their motorcycle-riding friends hosting parties at every opportunity, a passion for motorcycling was inevitable for Jessica. She obtained her motorcycle endorsement in 2000 and became a MSF RiderCoach, through MTA, 17 years later in 2017. Jessica’s first motorcycle was a ragged 1986 Suzuki GS550, riddled with random electrical problems and she could only touch the ground with one foot at a time. She currently rides a 2009 Harley Davidson Nightster and a 2015 Indian Scout. Outside of motorcycling, she is AOW Scuba certified and studied design, Landscape Architecture, and Intelligence Operations before finally graduating in 2019 from UCCS with a BA in Geography, after several attempts at higher education. Becoming a MSF RiderCoach is further, continued, achievement in Jessica’s life-long pursuit of learning and personal development, certifying her to coach BRC, BRC2, ARC, MSRC, and 3WBRC.

  • Greg Schmitz

    Greg started riding in 1994 after taking an RSS (former BRC course), purchasing a Honda Gold Wing GL1500 as his first bike. He became a RiderCoach with CMSP and MSF in 1996 after taking an ERC course and realizing he had picked up too many bad habits. Currently riding the ‘Yellow Submarine’ a 2003 Honda Goldwing. Primary riding is and has been commuting to and from work, sometimes as much as 200 plus miles per day riding between customer sites. The only riding that he manages to get in during the weekend is teaching the BRC and ERC courses when not spending time with his family.

  • Stu Smith

  • Harrison Sundgren

    My name is Harrison Sundgren and I have worked for MTA since 2009. I started riding dirt bikes when my family moved to Colorado in 1995. I have been riding street bikes since 2003. I currently ride a BMW F650.

    My favorite part of riding is getting to experience the beautiful scenery of Colorado and getting to spend time with family and friends.

  • Kent Sundgren

    I have ridden motorcycles since I was about 12, started on a Honda 50 that I begged my dad to get for me. Since moving to Colorado Springs in late 1995, I've been involved with both off road and on road riding. I've had the good fortune of participating in the training of new motorcycle riders for 16 years and hope to continue for many more.

  • Kevin Warren

    My name is Kevin Warren. Originally from Saint James, Missouri. I first started riding motorcycles when I was 15. Ever since then, riding motorcycles and practicing motorcycle safety has been a passion of mine. Went so far to where I have toured 14 different country’s with my wife on our Harley Road Glide, country’s including like Italy, Croatia, France, Switzerland, etc.. I first took the Basic Riders Course in 2014 when I was a private in the U.S Army in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Taking that course was an eye opener for me. Where I came to realize as what I thought I was a skilled experienced rider. Come to find out, I was not as skilled of a rider as I thought. I love these courses and love teaching people how to ride and how to practice proper motorcycle safety.