Marines practice safety, tackle Tail of the Dragon

30 Apr 2010 | Lance Cpl. Victor A. Barrera

Marines from Headquarters and Support Battalion as well as 2nd Marine Logistics Group aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune left base for a six-day event focused on motorcycle safety and fun. With engines roaring down the interstates and back roads they left for a trip that would test their riding skills.

Twelve Marines, each with their own cruisers or street bikes, traveled more than 480 miles to reach an area known as the Tail of the Dragon at Deal’s Gap, N.C., most famously known for its 11 mile stretch of road with 318 loops, turns and cutbacks.

The Dragon’s Tail requires the riders to pay full attention to the road at all times. Taking their eyes off the road could easily lead to a bad crash leaving them mangled on the side of the road with no immediate medical help.

Master Sgt. Angel Concepcion, program chief for Brig Company, Headquarters and Support Battalion, MCB Camp Lejeune said this was his first time riding the Dragon’s Tail and already noticed the difference in riding on winding roads and sloping corners compared to driving in the city and flat ground.

Throughout the ride in the country it was emphasized to stay attentive, always fill up on gas and maintain a one to two second interval between riders in case of an accident.

“The last few years we went riding to the Dragon’s Tail there was always an accident, nothing bad, but we did have to put the bike onto the safety truck,” said Sgt. Maj. Michael Wootten, battalion sergeant major for HQSPTBN. “I’m hoping this year we can have a better safety ride.”

With crashes occurring nearly daily on the Dragon’s Tail it was skill that ensured the Marines were not among the statistics. Even after six full days of riding not one motorcyclist got into an accident and each could walk home saying they have conquered the dragon.

“The whole ride gave me valuable experience,” said Concepcion. “You can’t take one portion out and say it was better. It’s like breaking a dollar down and asking someone to choose which penny is the best one.”

Many of the riders said they felt more comfortable riding in a pack and that the experience they gained was astounding. Many were looking forward to returning conquering the Dragon’s Tail once again.

“I would definitely recommend this safety ride for anyone who wishes to have more confidence in themselves and their motorcycle,” said Concepcion.