FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii -- "You learn something new every day" is the old adage.
That's especially true for motorcyclists. Every ride is an opportunity to practice skills and become a better, safer rider. That's the informal side of learning; there's a formal side, too.
The Progressive Motorcycle Program begins when new riders sign up for the Basic Rider Course (BRC) and continues throughout his or her career in the Army. The BRC gives every rider the essential tools to start riding on the street.
Following the course, riders need to slowly build their skills with increasingly difficult rides and situations. Within 12 months of completing the BRC, riders return for an experienced rider courses.
Locally, safety policy requires an experienced course prior to the six-month point. There are two courses to choose from: Experienced Rider Course, for riders of standard and cruiser machines, and the Military Sport Bike Rider Course, a specialized class for owners of sport motorcycles.
Unlike the BRC, where many riders opt to use school-supplied training bikes, the experienced courses require the rider to bring their own motorcycle.
"It's great to see the riders returning on their own bike," said Walter Oda, Cape Fox Professional Services lead instructor for the Schofield Motorcycle Training Site. "We see how they have applied the lessons from the BRC and have learned to ride in traffic. Many times the rider has picked up some bad habits, and we get a chance to fine-tune their skills."
Following the experienced course, riders return every five years for sustainment training. This can be a return to the experienced courses or a visit to the Army Safety Center's motorcycle safety Web page for a list of approved alternative courses at the rider's own expense.
"On my own time, I keep my skills up by taking track day courses," said Liz Werter, Cape Fox. "Riders get a chance to take turns at speed, and (they) build skills using lessons drawn from the racetrack."
Referred to locally as the Advanced Rider Trackday, these courses are offered only sporadically in Hawaii, as they require the use of a large aircraft parking ramp to outline a mile-long riding circuit. Riders can purchase classes at a number of training sites around the country.
Sustainment training also comes in during a change to a different motorcycle or a move to a new geographical area.
"Changing your motorcycle is an important reason to return for training," said Clint German, garrison safety director. "Riders might change to a much larger motorcycle, or convert from a cruiser to a sport style, with entirely different handling."
Unit motorcycle mentors play an important role in reviewing the riders progress by tracking each class completed and encouraging riders to sign up for the next phase in their learning.
-- Cycle Safety
For more information, see Army Regulation 385-10, The Army Safety Program, chapter 11-9, or visit the Army Safety Center Motorcycle Web page at https://safety.army.mil/OFF-DUTY/PMV-2.aspx.