Depot riders enjoy first motorcycle ride
By Cpl. Pedro Cardenas
| Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego | March 07, 2014
San Diego --
Marines of 3rd Recruit Training Battalion took part in their quarterly ride to Carlsbad, Calif., which was part of the battalion’s motorcycle club ride, Jan. 28.
The purpose of the motorcycle club is to improve unit morale, promote rider awareness and improve individual rider skills. The club is also tasked with establishing and maintaining camaraderie, esprit de corps that will enhance the prestige of all motorcycle riders, encourage on-going rider education and skills development and reduce the potential of motorcycle mishaps.
The motorcycle club program seeks to improve rider skills through mentorship for new riders and continuing education for all riders to positively influence motorcycling on and off Marine Corps installations.
Another purpose of the club is to establish an effective means of communication with all members to exchange ideas and keep attuned to changes in attitudes and behaviors of riders in order to promote and support safety recognition programs.
“It lets you interact at a different level. You can share your experiences to new riders,” said Sgt. Maj. Jimmy D. Ferriss, battalion sergeant major. “This was our first ride and each unit should take time to get to know their Marines and this is a good way to do so.”
According to the Navy Safety Center, the popularity of sport bikes presented unique challenges. These bikes, designed and engineered for racing, are extremely powerful, maneuverable and affordable. Prior to 2008 the only training available to riders was geared toward standard motorcycle riders, which failed to address the unique handling characteristics of sport bikes, risk management and other behavior modification tools.
In 2008 the Navy and Marine Corps attacked the problem with the development of the Military Sports Bike Riders Course and introduction of mentorship programs. All bike riders are subject to safety regulations, including proper riding gear and need to attend an initial training motorcycle rider safety course in order to ride. However, perhaps the most critical aspect of safety was the involvement of leadership at all levels.
Each unit commander is tasked with ensuring his or her unit has a program instated to promote bike rider safety. Commanders are in charge of structuring the club and assigning a club president. Like any other organization, club members have duties and bylaws to abide by and it is their responsibility to uphold the basic core values and mentor each other through their experiences.
“The first time I rode my bike I crashed. When I purchased my first bike I wasn’t educated enough on procedures and gear,” said Staff Sgt. Marques C. Jackson, club president and chief drill instructor of Company M. “That’s why we have a mentoring program to ensure what you are doing is correct.”
According to Ferriss, he is one of the more experienced Marines with his current motorcycle having more than 60,000 miles; where as some of the riders in his battalion have just began to ride their motorcycles.
“You have to give them pointers. They teach you the basics at the rider safety course, but there are a lot more hazards on the road,” said Jackson. “We mentor so riders can enjoy their ride every day.”
For Marines of 3rd Battalion, the ride was the first of many to come. The battalion ride ended with food, beverages and sharing their prior experiences to promote safety and good driving skills for their fellow Marines.