The buzz of the engine as it throttles high fills your ears and the feeling of the air as it whips past your face gives you the feeling of freedom on the open road. Usually the thrill of riding a motorcycle is enough excitement to fill a day. But for others that is not enough, they need the challenge to perform stunts that defy gravity.
For the few motorcycle riders who braved the rain to attend a special clinic on Joint Base Lewis-McChord July 13, given by professional sport bike rider and racer, Aaron Colton, it was an opportunity to talk about riding, types of bikes and the importance of knowing their individual skill level, on a relaxed casual level.
The clinic began with Colton, a 19-year-old Shakopee, Minn. Native, showing off his skills by performing various stunts and demonstrations on his bike. These stunts were all conducted on a closed course, which gave him the freedom to do them safely without worrying about traffic. But the display served more of a purpose beyond just showing off.
“With me coming out to military bases, not only can I entertain but I can also do good with my riding to promote safety and to promote motorcycling as a sport to everyone,” commented Colton.
The rider, who is sponsored by Red Bull energy drink, is currently on a military tour, where he is visiting different posts and bases across the U.S. showing his skills and giving advice on how to be a safe rider and still have fun doing it.
“I have already done ten military stops this year and will probably have about 20 by the end of the year,” said Colton. “It is really cool to do these stops because I am a huge supporter of anyone in any branch of the U.S. military. I always have been since I was a young kid. At one time I was even thinking of enlisting. I am proud to be doing these demos because it feels like I am giving back. I know I am riding but I feel like I am doing something good with it.”
This clinic was not strictly for the sport bike rider or for experienced riders only. Every rider who attended the clinic was able to gain some new knowledge from the young rider.
“I would say the more inexperienced riders would gain the most from clinics like this. I can’t say younger riders because he [Colton] is only 19 and he has great skills,” said Tom Walsh, JBLM safety specialist. “But by coming to a clinic like this I would hope that newer riders would come and see the difference between his skills and their own.”
But Colton feels that when he performs these shows and clinics, he wants to target one particular age group, so that he can share an important message about their skills.
“The 18 to 25-year-old sport bike rider is the age group that I need to see the most at these demos,” said Colton. “I have nothing against that age group, but they are very excited to do what I do and they think they are indestructible. They have less fear and they want to do everything they see. I am not here to be some rider’s dad and tell them not to do this stuff. I am here to be their friend and tell them how to do it safely.”
At the end of the day, after all the burned tire smoke had cleared, the professional rider who came to JBLM to spread the word about safe riding had one final piece of advice for all those servicemembers who share the joy of riding along with him.
“I hope that the riders who walk away from this event realize that you don’t need to have a big ego to do the things I do,” said Colton. “You don’t have to do this kind of stuff out on the street; everything I have done to develop my skills has been done on a closed course. There is a time and a place for the riding style that you do.”