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United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: Military Rider 2013

May 01, 2012

The Defense Department marks the start of prime motorcycle riding weather by designating each May as Motorcycle Safety Month. This special report highlights DOD and service-related efforts to enhance the safety and overall riding experience for service members and veterans through training, mentorship and education.

I Kept My Promise

3rd Marine Regiment
Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii

After several months of pleading and negotiating, I finally convinced my wife to let me purchase the motorcycle of my dreams. We had just become debt free — and she wanted to stay that way — so there were two promises I made in order for her to feel comfortable with our decision. First, I had to purchase the motorcycle outright so we weren't saddled with a monthly payment. Second, I had to attend a motorcycle safety training course.

I gladly agreed with her conditions and immediately began saving up for my dream bike. I stopped eating out and put every dime I could toward my goal. At that rate, however, I realized it was going to take me at least three years to meet my goal of saving $10,000. To speed up the process, I started working a second job on weekends installing burglar alarms and custom car stereo systems.

As I worked toward my goal, I took a beginning rider course at the local college. I even took an advanced motorcycle riding course to get some extra practice in on the weekends. Some weekends, my friend, James, and I met at the college parking lot so he could show me how to ride his motorcycle. James enjoyed teasing me about sticking to the agreement I made with my wife about saving the money to purchase the motorcycle outright. I really think he was just trying to get me to purchase my motorcycle sooner than planned so we could start riding together. However, I made a promise to my wife, so I was determined to stick it out.

After about a year and a half, I finally reached my goal. However, because it took me so long to get there, the motorcycle I originally wanted didn't seem as glamorous. I shopped around for about a month and found a new Honda CBR 1100 motorcycle for the same price I would have paid for a used custom Honda CBR 650 I had previously wanted. Naturally, I opted to get the larger motorcycle. I paid the dealer by check, signed some papers and became the proud owner of a Honda CBR 1100.

As soon as I got home, I called James to let him know the good news. He immediately came over so we could go for a ride. We took the scenic route to the beach, which was about an hour north of my house. Because my motorcycle needed to be broken in, we rode nice and slow, as suggested by the dealer. Man, it felt great to be finally riding.

Over the next several months, James and I rode more and more on the weekends and sometimes even during the week. One day, we decided to ride to the beach to meet some friends that also rode. We planned to ride an hour northeast of Green Wave Beach to a town call Rolling Hills. The road leading to Rolling Hills is known for its twists and turns over a 30-mile stretch. As we were riding, a car entered our lane ahead as it attempted to pass another vehicle in a no-passing zone. Bob, the lead rider, swerved, overcompensated, fell off his motorcycle and then slid for about 30 feet, hitting his head on the asphalt along the way.

Fortunately, Bob was OK because he was wearing his helmet. But he was lucky, as only recently had he begun wearing a helmet. James had convinced him of the importance of wearing the proper personal protection equipment every time he rode. If this accident would have occurred a month earlier, Bob might have been seriously injured, or worse, killed.

After his close call, Bob vowed to enroll in a sport bike rider course offered by the installation safety office. Most installations provide some sort of motorcycle training free of charge for service members. In addition to learning skills to help keep you safe on your motorcycle, you may also qualify for a discount on your insurance premium just for attending.

When I got home that day, I hugged my wife and thanked her for ensuring I had attended a motorcycle training course before purchasing my bike. That promise I kept might one day save my life.

Did You Know?

If you are in the military, you are required to wear a helmet and proper personal protective equipment even if your state does not require it.

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