Joint base riding with safety in mind
May 10, 2013
By Julia LeDoux
ARLINGTON, Va. - Marines and Soldiers will be the first to tell you that there's no shortage of friendly interservice rivalry between the Corps and Army. But when it comes to riding motorcycles safely, Devil Dogs and Soldiers agree on one thing: The best ride is the one in which everyone arrives at their destination alive.
With that in mind, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall held its first joint service ride May 3. Approximately a half dozen motorcyclists of all experience levels took part in the ride, which began at the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington and ended at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle.
"I'm kind of glad we have a small group here, so we can go in one group," said ride organizer Marine Master Sgt. Jay Mattice, Headquarters & Service Battalion, Headquarters Marine Corps Henderson Hall S-3 operations chief and motorcycle operator safety club president.
The riders began their 39.2 mile journey following a safety brief conducted by Mattice and a blessing of the bikes by Headquarters & Service Battalion, Headquarters Marine Corps Henderson Hall Chap. (Lt.) Devon Foster.
"Ride within your safety zone," Mattice said. "If you have any mechanical problems, pull off. Obey state laws."
Army Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Jessup, command sergeant major of JBM-HH's Headquarters Command Battalion, called motorcycle safety a "big deal."
"Right now in the military, we have a lot of fatalities due to a lack of experienced riders," he said. "That's why we partnered with our sister service to make sure Marines and Soldiers understand the safety of it." Jessup, who currently rides a Gold Wing, said he's been riding for "a little while" and always puts safety first when he's on the road.
"If you implement the standards of riding your bike, make sure your horns work, make sure that you're looking out for the vehicles and cars on the road, because some of them don't look out for you, so you have to look out for them; you have to be their eyes and your eyes, and that's how you need to ride," he stressed.
Jessup and Mattice said two motorcyclists were killed while riding their bikes on Interstate 95 in recent weeks.
"The overall thing is to get experienced riders and less experienced riders together to discuss safety," explained Mattice.
As the temperature rises, Jessup urged drivers to watch for motorcyclists.
"When the weather warms up, I would ask that drivers look out for more motorcycles on the road," he said.
Army Master Sgt. James C. Meyers, senior career counselor at JBM-HH, has years of experience riding motorcycles, but his last group ride was about four years ago and he recently transitioned from a sports bike to a cruiser.
"Even though there was a lot of traffic, I was much more comfortable on this, it's laid back," he said of his new bike.
Several installations in the National Capital Region, including Fort Meade in Maryland and Fort Belvoir and Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia, offer motorcycle safety courses for servicemembers. To learn about the courses at Fort Meade, visit www.ftmeade.army.mil/pages/safety/motorcycle. For classes at Fort Belvoir, go to www.belvoir.army.mil/safety/mc.asp; and for classes at Quantico, visit www.quantico.usmc.mil/OPM/?m=QCAp+sd2e4ff7f985c697b90814a4305c2effea201e9d9a79ce2ac04dc6d771d88e200312ee1963bf6b419bfc22387c6ae2d441ef9aee9c83dc75faeb560400805effads=8.
"You never stop learning," said Meyers. "You can never say this is the best I'm ever going to be at riding. You can get better every time you ride."