Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Fields Bogue Field, N.C. --
There are more than a few Marines who ride for the thrill of a motorcycle. The rush of having a roaring engine just underneath your finger-tips, and all of it under the control of each of their slightest moves is what lures more Marines to buy motorcycles each year. However, before someone gets on a bike, they should take classes to familiarize themselves with their new toy.
Marine Corps Installations East held its first Motorcycle Rodeo and Skill Assessment Course at the Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Fields Bogue Field, May 6, to make sure these motorcycle enthusiasts are tested in their riding abilities.
“In 2008, (MCIEAST) had 10 fatalities, and that’s when we really started getting serious about this. In 2009, because of the hard work that many people came forward with, that (number) was down to two,” said Maj. Gen. Carl Jensen, commanding general of MCIEAST. “In 2010, we had zero. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
Programs such as the Basic Rider Course, Experienced Rider Course and Military Sports Rider Course, have helped the number of motorcycle-related casualties decrease. These classes have only recently been enforced and Marines are required to take at least the Basic Rider Course before riding aboard Marine Corps installations.
“Today was mainly about getting motorcyclists out here with a chance to operate their motorcycle on a course that will test their abilities and skill sets,” said John Abney, a safety instructor with the traffic safety department aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. “It not only lets them know where they stand, but where they stand against a group of other riders.”
There were two events that took place simultaneously beginning at 8 a.m. One of the events was the Bike Safe Assessor Course. Sgt. Mark Brown, a North Carolina Highway Patrol officer, led the classroom instruction before the Marines were sent out with an officer for their assessment.
“We are going to watch and see if you are using the skills that you have already been taught,” said Brown, as he addressed the class.
Riders were lead to an open road with local law enforcement officers. The officers then observed the riders and were able to later give them pointers on what they needed to improve while operating their motorcycles. Many of the officers felt that the riders did a great job and needed little to no instruction.
“They were very in-tune with their motorcycles,” said Abney.
Back on MCALF Bogue Field, was the motorcycle rodeo. For the main event, a competitive course, drivers were coached through a series of five courses. Each emphasized the bikes coming to full stops, taking corners and completing cloverleaf turns, in order to test and hone the drivers’ skills.
“It was an extremely testing course, and we set it up for that reason,” said Abney. “With the stops and tight turns, it’s a tough course for any rider. Today, we had all level riders, from people who graduated from the BRC course last week, to people who have graduated from the advanced class. As a group, I think they did great. It goes to show that the training we have in place right now is working.”
For information on motorcycle safety classes, contact your installation safety office or motorcycle mentorship program president.