By Patrick BuffettMarch 27, 2014
FORT LEE, V.a (March 27, 2014) -- A meeting of motorcycle mentors here Friday included important words of advice from professional BMW rider Domonic Anderson and nationally recognized comedian Micah "Bam-Bamm" White. Both are long-time riders and advocates of a new SAFE (Soldiers Are For Example) campaign that is meant to encourage proper motorcycle maintenance and reduce potential risky riding habits among military members of all services.
"I have been riding since I was 12 years old, and I have put a lot of bikes down on the pavement because I used to be young, dumb and crazy with the stunts," Anderson told the small group of noncommissioned officers who had gathered at the Motorcycle Training Facility on the corner of Mahone and A Avenues. Each of them represented a major training school on the installation as well as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, CASCOM.
"I was lucky to survive that period in my life," Anderson also said. "It taught me to never take chances whether I'm out riding around the neighborhood or racing around the track. I'm here today to share my experiences and the things I've learned as a professional driver."
White, who started riding at age 13, said he also recalls the moments when he "stopped respecting the bike" and wound up on the ground. "I was a back-road runner; a jockey who raced other people's bikes," he noted. "I've put it down on gravel as well as the freeway, and every time it was because I lost the focus on my own safety."
After those introductory remarks, Anderson assigned a motorcycle to each of the NCOs and asked them to conduct a standard T-CLOCS (tires, controls, lights, oil, chassis and stands) inspection. As they performed that task, he circulated among them to answer questions and share insights about the foolproof maintenance checks he has learned on the track.
"Too many riders want to take shortcuts," he told the group afterward. "They figure their bike worked OK when they parked it last time, so it should be good to go for that next ride and the one after that. They get into that mentality that they're 'just taking it around the block or down the street a few miles, so what could possibly go wrong?' That's what makes the job you do so important. You're making them stop and think about it; what could happen at any moment when I'm out there on the road?"
The participating NCOs also shared their experiences. Sgt. 1st Class Glenn Cook from CASCOM described his method for standardized inspections that decrease the chance of an overlooked deficiency while shortening the amount of time it takes to complete a unit-wide inspection.
It was exactly the type of dialogue that the event organizer, Sgt. Maj. Rahsan Mitchell from the 59th Ordnance Brigade, had anticipated. "We have to be unified in our approach to motorcycle safety," he said. "You can't just hand someone a checklist and expect them to be effective motorcycle mentors. There has to be a common standard and sound knowledge of what you're supposed to do. That's what this train-the-trainer event was meant to accomplish."
The Fort Lee Safety Office also was instrumental in bringing the event together. That office will host a "Motorcycle Extravaganza" on Saturday, 9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., at the MTF. It's open to the entire community and will feature motorcycle inspections, skills challenges, children's activities and displays of different bike-related products.
"We estimate there are approximately 740 motorcycle operators on the installation, so I'm hoping for a very big turnout," said Safety Office representative Edward Newell. "I can't think of a better way to start out the 2014 riding season … let's make this the biggest motorcycle mentorship event that Fort Lee has ever seen."