HEIDELBERG, Germany- Harleys, Hondas, hotdogs and hamburgers - just a few of the sights, sounds and smells motorcyclists can expect to take in during the first-ever Motorcycle Rally and River Ride May 27 in Heidelberg.

The event, sponsored by U.S. Army Garrison Baden-WAfA1/4rttemberg, is designed to help both new and old riders refresh their safety skills, share lessons learned, and meet fellow motorcycle enthusiasts - all while enjoying a group ride along the Neckar River.

"The bottom line is that this event will serve as a vehicle to encourage riders to take responsibility for their safety," said Earnest Singleton, a safety specialist with the USAG Baden-WAfA1/4rttemberg Safety Office, "by ensuring they have done everything possible to reduce their risk by taking operator training, wearing protective gear, and riding sober."

Singleton says that to date there has not been a serious motorcycle accident within the Baden-WAfA1/4rttemberg footprint, and he credits this accomplishment to the riders themselves.
"Our riders are fully cognizant of the risks involved in riding and conscientious when it comes to reducing their potential for accidents," he said. "The best way to stay safe while riding a motorcycle is to avoid getting into trouble in the first place. That requires planning, training, leadership, good judgment and accepting responsibility. In short - risk management."

During the event, there will be hands-on exercises focusing on cornering, braking and swerving, a demonstration featuring motorcycle airbag jackets and training with ADAC Hockenheim-Ring's cornering device, an Army and Air Force Exchange drunk driving simulator, show bikes, exhibitions, giveaways and door prizes.

Participants will also take a group ride along the Neckar River before wrapping up the day's events with a barbecue at the Heidelberg Rod and Gun Club.

Peter Buttner, station manager at the American Red Cross Heidelberg office, is an avid motorcyclist with 17 years of experience handling the open road on his own Harley.

Buttner is also a certified Motorcycle Safety Foundation rider coach trainer and will be one of the many trainers onsite helping to evaluate riders during the training portion, offer tips for improvement, and advise the command of possible additional training that might be needed.

"I think it's important to reach out to those motorcyclists in the community to give them an opportunity to enjoy some camaraderie with other riders and to receive some hands on training," Buttner said.
"The safety aspect of it is important too due to the fact that most people ride only in good weather, so they haven't ridden through the year. They put their bike away, stored it through the winter, and now they're just starting to get it out again," he said. "So it's important for them to become familiar with it again and its proper operation."

Motorcyclist Douglas Sims is one of those riders looking forward to hitting the road after a long, hard winter. He's also planning to attend the rally.
"I like being around other riders ... and, in my opinion, you can't have enough safety information when it comes to motorcycles and motorcyclists," Sims said. "It makes us more aware of our actions and to secondly always focus on that car coming down the road, out of the corner or out of the driveway. Plus it's an opportunity to just get out and ride my motorcycle, you can't beat that."

May is recognized as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

The USAG Baden-WAfA1/4rttemberg Motorcycle Rally and River Ride begins at 7 a.m. May 27 at the Heidelberg Heliport. The rally is free and open to the public.

Riders must register by May 24 to participate in the river ride portion of the event.

To register, visit www.bw.eur.army.mil and click on the link under Hot Topics.
For more information on the MSF, visit www.msf-usa.org.