MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- The sound of revving engines and the smell of exhaust filled the air as service members sped around the track on motorcycles in San Mateo Canyon on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, May 20.
Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 39 partnered with Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton Motorcycle Safety Division to host Motorcycle Rider Preservation Day 2016 for 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing service members who own motorcycles.
The groups came together, using a helicopter landing field as a motorcycle track, to facilitate a motorcycle "track day" consisting of safety inspections, mentoring rides, subject matter expert discussions by local presenters, law enforcement entities and safety organizations.
Before starting the events, all motorcycles and riders were inspected with help from experienced riders and members of RevMoto Industries, a full-service motorcycle shop.
“Our job here today was to help with safety inspections,” said Michael Nagy, owner of RevMoto Industries. “Safety is the number one main concern. We're here checking the bikes over, making sure they are safe, and making sure the equipment and the riders’ gear is up to par.”
Supervised tracks and stations were set up for motorcycle riders as they took turns participating in the various workshops at each station.
On the main track, a long road course was set up where riders had the opportunity to test their skills passing other motorcycles and taking safe turns on sharp corners at a higher speed than they would at required Marine Corps motorcycle training.
“We have the track where they can practice their basic techniques, body positioning and turning in a realistic, road-speed scenario,” said Maj. Aaron Milroy, director of safety and standardization for MAG-39. “
Category one and category two training that we require for the Marine Corps is spent on a smaller training range where Marines don’t get above 2nd gear or about 15mph.”
On the other end of the track, breaking and body position stations were set up. Riders were tested on how quickly and safely they could bring the motorcycle to a complete stop from a high speed. The riders were supervised and given safety tips after they completed the station.
“Putting them on a track like this lets riders apply what they learn here today in a closed, controlled environment before they go out on public roads,” said Milroy.
Within MAG-39 in the past year, there has been one death, a collection of hospitalizations, and a general assortment of major injuries due to motorcycle accidents, according to Milroy.
“Everything at MAG-39 always comes down to mission effectiveness, combat readiness and operational success,” said Milroy. “Each injury represents a Marine that is not able to perform and not able to deploy. Today is not just about going fast on a track; today is about motorcycle rider preservation.”
Members of RevMoto Industries along with experienced riders offered advice and tips from personal experiences to junior riders.
“We’re also here helping out everyone individually,” said Nagy. “We’re talking to them about their bikes, and answering all their questions. We’re here to help.”
The riders enjoyed the environment filled with a plethora of different motorcycles and street bikes, benefitted from the safety tips and were over-all impressed by the event.
“I’ve had one track day before and it was nothing like this, this is absolutely gorgeous. Seeing the different cruisers, street bikes… I love it,” said Sgt. Eric Acosta, a rider participating in the event. “I’d much rather new riders get the speed demons out on the track, than out on the freeways and highways where cars are a threat. After today, I have so much more confidence in my bike and in myself.”