CAMP MOBILE - The Motorcycle Safety Foundation and the Army Traffic Safety Program offered a two-day basic motorcycle course March 22-23 at Camp Mobile.

The Army Traffic Safety Training Team trains all who are interested in learning how to ride and abide by regulations in training sessions given throughout the year. This training given in military garrisons across the peninsula is accepted in all states and fills mandated motorcycle safety requirements.

The early morning portion of the class was dedicated to teaching the Soldiers and Civilians in attendance the fundamentals of operating a two-wheeled vehicle including motor scooters.
Gregory Deschapell, Army Traffic Safety Training Program, lead instructor, wanted the students to learn what he felt everyone should know about driving a motorcycle. Knowing that hands on training is the best way to learn he went through exercises and lecture material before they were allowed to throw a leg over a bike and begin to ride.

"I entered the course because I plan on buying a motorcycle once I get back to the states," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Javier Gonzalez, 17th Ordinance Company accountable officer. "Because it is free on a U.S. Army installation, it is a good opportunity to take the course. We received the same knowledge and information we would get paying $90-$150 stateside off post."

Later in the day, the students stepped out to the training area where they stood in front of the motorcycles they would be using for the rest of the class. The students wore all of their protective gear and waited for further instructions from Deschapell.

Protective gear for motorcycles and scooters includes: a Department of Transportation approved helmet, full-fingered gloves, long-sleeved shirt, long pants, shoes or boots covering the ankles, and a high visibility reflective vest.

The motorcycles and helmets were provided by ATSP.

With motorcycles in front of them, Deschapell went over everything the students learned in class about motorcycle controls and features. He led the students to the bikes and showed them each part and control and explained the purpose it served.

Deschapell used a colorful acronym when he asked as student how to start the motorcycle. "Remember FINE C," Deschapell said, reminding students of the teaching tool he spoke of earlier in the class room.

FINE C stands for fuel valve, ignition, and neutral, engine cut off switch, choke and clutch. Deschapell explained to the class the initial thing they do once they mount their bike is to turn the fuel valve to the on position. Next, turn the key in the ignition to the on position. Then make sure the bike is in neutral. Make sure the engine cut-off switch, sometimes called the kill switch, is located by the rider's right thumb. It is almost always red. Switch it toward the symbol of an arrow moving in a circle. The other symbol, the arrow with an X across it, is the off position. Finally, set the choke as necessary.

After the students went over FINE C, they began to do exercises familiarizing themselves with the motorcycles. One exercise was the "power walk" where the students placed their bike in first gear but accelerated enough to where they could walk while sitting on the motorcycles.
Deschapell continued to lead the class through more exercises similar to the "power walk" to allow them a chance to get familiar with their bikes before they begin to ride them.

The class finished earlier than anticipated the next day. Deschapell congratulated the students for successfully finishing the class and urged them to practice safety while operating their vehicles whether it is a car, scooter, or motorcycle.

"Once people start to experience the exhilaration of riding a motorcycle, they are not likely to stop riding." he said.