Story by E-7 Culeen Shaffer on 07/05/2018Motorcycles of all kinds rolled into the Air Guard Station at Fort Indiantown Gap, Annville, Pennsylvania, June 22, 2018.
While the motorcycles may have been different, the riders were there for the same reason; to participate in the Pennsylvania National Guard Motorcycle Safety Day. Both riders and instructors were Pennsylvania National Guardsmen.
The day consisted of classroom discussion, which was then practiced on a closed course and on the road. Some of the skills taught were cornering, trail braking, group-riding dynamics, and fast braking. The riders also got to see what a tractor trailer truck driver sees on the road; riders had bikes placed along a truck and got to climb in the driver's seat to get a view of how visible a motorcycle rider is at various locations near the truck.
The riders' experience ranged from a little over a year to approximately 45 years, yet even the most experience riders got something out of the day.
"The course reinforces my good techniques and helps refine/adjust things I might not be doing quite right. It is also a prime opportunity to share experiences, both good and bad, so the group can learn from others", said U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Eric Clavier, aviation safety officer and instructor pilot with Detachment 1, Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 641 Aviation Regiment.
Out of the 20-plus Guardsmen, Clavier had been riding the longest and signed up because he said he is a firm believer that we never know as much as we need to know, and we should never stop learning.
Just a little over a year of learning how to ride, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Anthony Arthur, 193rd Air Communications Squadron cyber transport technician, said he signed up because he was ready for was ready for more advanced techniques, and wanted to reevaluate his skills and correct any bad habits that he may be forming.
Both Clavier and Arthur ride for the adventures and excitement, but they emphasized how important it is to ride safely.
"My advice to new riders would be to start small, wear all your protective gear and ride your own ride", said Arthur.
Clavier echoed the importance of wearing protective gear; he said "wear the proper protective gear; DOT approved helmet (full face offers the most protection, eye protection, a riding jacket, sturdy jeans or riding pants, full finger gloves and boots. It might look cool (I guess) to ride around in a Hawaiian shirt, cargo shorts and flip flops with a pair of sunglasses but none of that will protect your body."
Riding with the proper gear isn't the only key to staying safe, Clavier also said "you have to be on your A-Game 100% of the time. Riding distracted, angry or impaired is a recipe for disaster when riding a motorcycle."
Because of classroom instruction, group discussions and riding, there are more safe motorcycle riders on the road from attending the 2018 Pennsylvania National Guard Motorcycle Safety Day.