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Training makes for safer riding

  • Published
  • By Sean Carter
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Safety Office
Well how time flies. It seems like yesterday I put my motorcycle up for the winter, and now it's riding season again. I'm very excited about the riding season this year, as I expect that many of you are. 

For those of you who are thinking about riding, North Carolina has some great rides. Before we ride there are a few things we must take care of. Anyone who rides must take a Motorcycle Safety Foundation approved class, either the Basic Riders Course or the Experienced Riders Course. Plus, anyone stationed at Pope who rides a sport bike must take the Strategic Riders Course; I recommend it for everyone. 

Now you may have noticed that I didn't say anyone who wants to ride on base; I said anyone who rides. That's right; the courses are not just for on-base riding, they are for riding period. Pope offers all three of the courses. The BRC is geared toward the basic beginner; someone who has never ridden a motorcycle. We provide the bikes, all you need to do is supply your time. The ERC is geared toward a more seasoned rider; someone with at least six months riding experience or about 1,000 miles in the saddle. 

The SRC is the next step in training that zeros in on the primary causal factors of most motorcycle accidents. For you seasoned riders who say to yourselves, "I have been legal for years; I don't need this," may want to rethink that. We all get rusty very quickly when it comes to riding motorcycles. It's a skill that is lost if not used. So if it has been more than three years since you've taken a course, you may just need a little polishing to keep the shiny side up. 

Remember the only thing these courses will cost you is your time; the base safety office pays for the courses. Think about this; you're getting paid to be in a free class to do something that you enjoy. 

Next, we need to make sure our bikes are road worthy. Everyone needs to do a pre-ride inspection on their bikes. There is an acronym to follow that will help you during your pre-ride inspection: T-CLOCS.
T: Tires and wheels
C: Controls
L: Lights
O: Oil
C: Chassis
S: Stands 

Give each of these items some attention before you ride, and you shouldn't have to call a friend with a truck for help. 

Finally, we need to have all of the personal protective equipment. A good Department of Transportation or Snell Memorial Foundation-approved helmet is mandatory. Those of you who choose to wear those novelty helmets are just asking for trouble if you're involved in an accident. Eye protection: A full-face helmet works well, but if you're like me, you like to feel the wind, so you must use shatter proof eyewear or be protected by a windshield. A long-sleeved upper outer garment and long pants are a must. Finally, wear full-fingered gloves and sturdy footwear (recommend over the ankle), flip flops will not cut it. A reflective belt or vest must be worn while in uniform or during the hours of darkness, which has been determined to be 30 minutes prior to sunset through 30 minutes after sunrise. 

If you have any questions, please contact your unit's ground/motorcycle safety representative. 

Now let's get trained, inspect our bikes, wear the right PPE and enjoy our sport.