29 March 2008
RIDING on 2 WHEELS
From the COP/SOLDIER side:
A few months after returning from Iraq, Spec "Jones" bought a nice motorcycle. He was fairly safe while riding, he used a helmet. One day while riding, a lady turned left in front of him. The bike had the right of way..."Jones" survived Iraq, but when he was hit by the mini van, it broke his spine. He'll never walk again.
When I was deployed in Bosnia and again in Iraq, I had several younger soldiers talk to me about riding motorcycles. They had heard that I had been trained to ride Police bikes, so they figured I was some kind of expert....I am not. My riding days started out when I was 15 and borrowed a friends Honda 350. He showed me how to start it and shift the gears and I was off. I never really learned how to ride worth a hoot until I was in my 40's and the department trained me. At first, when I tried getting through the standard police course, I thought I was a spazz. I couldn't do anything right and wiped out more cones than anyone else. I was ready to give up...but I didn't. I wanted to learn how to ride better and what better job to have---riding and getting paid for it!
But, when I hear of a troop coming home from a deployment, then taking all that money they saved up and buying a big fast bike...I worry. Why? Because too many of them are getting killed and injured by not really knowing how to ride. I'm going to help change that. But, before you ride, you got to know something about motorcycles. Everything is more critical on a bike...you only have 2 wheels, one front an rear light (in most cases) and NOBODY SEES YOU!
Before you ride, and I don't care how long you've been riding, if you've never taken a basic riding course---then take one. You cannot teach yourself how to ride! The better you can ride, the more fun you'll have and the longer you'll last....getting better each day. After a few months, take an advanced riding course...
Some things I learned in Police Motor School:
Bike maint: Check your bike each day. Look for shit falling off and loose. Check tires etc at least once a week.
Tire pressure is critical! Too low pressure causes the tires to flex and heat up more...and blow out. Check the tread and cracks in older tires. If your tire blows on a bike, you're screwed.
Check the battery and connections...loose or bad battery connections will cause lower voltage to go to lights etc...Bright head lights make it easier for cars to see you.
Check lights, turn signals and brake lights. You need to be seen!
Check the brakes--- newer disc brakes are easy to see the pads...check the fluid level for brake fluid.
Look for loose bolts all over the bike...they shake and vibrate...shit falls off...make sure it's not something you need.
Next chapter: how to dress