So, you want to buy a motorcycle? Have you asked your mom or your wife what she thinks about that? These are just some of the questions that may go through a person’s mind when considering the purchase of a motorcycle.
A better question would be do you know how to ride safely?
Besides the risk management dialog that always seems to pop in my head when riding, it is always my priority to ride my ride. Riding to your own abilities is something that few riders consider. It is all too easy to go out for a ride with an experienced rider and do something that will have you kissing the pavement.
First off, motorcycle riding is a dangerous activity, and you should always consider that the next ride might be your last. The Army’s answer to inexperienced riders is the Motorcycle Mentorship Program.
The MMP is a voluntary program that allows less experienced riders and seasoned riders to create a supportive environment of responsible motorcycle riding and enjoyment.
Before I started riding with my organization, I rode motorcycles for many years. I took about a 15-year break from riding and decided it was time to get another bike.
Fort Hood required all riders regardless of their military status to take a motorcycle safety course. I was able to get into the rider safety course and to my astonishment, I had some really bad habits and soon learned to overcome most of my issues.
One idea that stuck out was, “Where you look, the bike will go.”
I look back on the days in the mid-80s when I used to ride hard and fast on the streets of Dallas, and I recall now how very lucky I was not to have ended up in a guard rail or even worse.
I did what most young people do when they first buy a bike. I bought the sportiest, fastest thing I could afford and went for it. To my credit, I did buy one of the best helmets available at the time, mostly because I cracked my skull from front to back following a skateboard accident when I was 14 … but that’s another story.
So, back to MMP.
I joined the program in 2006 and I am extremely grateful for all the mentorship I received over the years.
We have taken many rides through the Texas Hill country. It’s more than just the wind in your hair - it’s the brotherhood of my fellow riders that plays a huge role in my desire to ride. It is not uncommon for riders to wave to one another or stop for a distressed vehicle on the side of the road. There is a sense of belonging to a group of like-minded people; people that genuinely care about another’s safety. That’s how I think of the MMP.
Back to safety. As riders in the MMP, we hold ourselves accountable for the safety of other riders within the group. Before each ride, we conduct a T-CLOCS inspection checklist, covering everything from tires and wheels, controls, lights and electrics, oils and other fluids, chassis components and stands.
The leader briefs the route and all the stops that will be made along the way and describes any obstacles or hazards riders need to be made aware of. The ride starts days or weeks before through route planning and route recon with input through the Safety office to ensure everyone has a safe, enjoyable ride.
I am not too fond of the saying “Ride or die,” but I would rather say, “Ride to ride another day,” and that is why I am part of the Motorcycle Mentorship Program.