By Ms. Brittany Carlson (IMCOM)May 3, 2010
STUTTGART, Germany -- "Look far into the distance, upper body relaxed, knees tight to the tank," ADAC instructor Joerg Hoefle tells motorcyclists in his Motorcycle Safety Course April 27.
It's advice that his students- in this case, 11 motorcyclists from the Stuttgart military community - take seriously. After all, they're about to navigate curves and practice emergency braking at 50 kilometers per hour.
"If you look far into the distance, you stabilize your bike," Hoefle explained. "If you fix your eyes [on] a car, you're going to hit the car. The eyes determine where you're going."
For the past 11 years, the U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Safety Office has offered this class each spring to community members who already have a U.S. Army Europe motorcycle license.
The class is one reason why there have been no motorcycle-related fatalities or serious injuries in the community in the past few years, said Hans Dreizler, USAG Stuttgart safety manager.
"Here, we can practice, practice, practice," Dreizler said. "We want them to be prepared to react properly out there in emergency situations."
The course is located at the ADAC training site in Leonberg. It is purely voluntary, and not a substitute for required Motorcycle Safety Foundation courses.
The class allows students to explore going too fast or too slow, failing to brake in time or entering a curve too fast, without the consequences of doing these things out on the street.
"It helps you build confidence, not only in yourself, but also in your bike," said Ron Wallace, an Army retiree and civilian who took the class for the third time April 27. "It gives you a good idea of what you're capable of and what your bike is capable of."
Wallace's favorite exercise was marking his motorcycle tires with chalk, and then driving in a roundabout to measure how far he could lean on a turn.
"Out here, you're practicing stuff you find yourself using out there ... on the street," he added.
Dennis Madtes, a civilian and Army retiree who has been riding a motorcycle for 40 years, also found the course valuable.
"You don't ride a whole lot in the winter here," he said. "When you don't do it in three or four months, you need to get refresher training."
Wallace agreed. "We all develop bad habits after a while," he said. "It's a good start to the riding season."