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Rule No. 1

Rule No. 1

Fort Bliss, Texas

Author’s note: The story you are about to read was written by a Soldier-rider and is true. The events are retold to give insights into the many hazards riders face when they are on the road. The lessons will help us all become more experienced motorcycle riders.

On a long weekend, I headed down to Big Bend Ranch State Park for some moto-camping and to provide support for a 50-mile ultramarathon. While there, I broke Rule No. 1. Luckily, the consequences were not grave. But since I survived, I figured I would share the story.

For those who don’t ride, Rule No. 1 states that whenever you are off-roading on a motorbike, you don’t do it alone. Always ride in a group of two or more. Each rider should be responsible for keeping track of one of the others. As Soldiers, we know this as the buddy system. It’s also good insurance on any ride.

So how did I break this very basic rule? Well, I was given the task of riding 10 miles on an improved-surface road to a ranger station, where I picked up a few faxes (a list of runner names and numbers). I then traveled about eight miles on a double-track path, dropped off one fax, back-traced my route, dropped off another fax at the campsite, and then traveled another eight miles down a steep incline and along a riverbed to drop off the last fax. It was all going well until I reached that riverbed.

It had not rained in a long time at Big Bend Ranch State Park. The riverbed was mostly deep, loose sand, with rocks scattered about for good measure. I soon fell off the bike, but, fortunately, I wasn’t injured. However, I immediately realized how much more difficult it is to pick up a big, heavy adventure bike in deep sand with no foot traction. All that practice picking up the bike in the backyard was for nothing. Oh, and I forgot to mention that the 9-gallon fuel tank was full. That was an additional 60 pounds above the center of gravity of the bike. Wouldn’t it have been nice to have been riding with someone who could help me lift the bike?

It took a while, but I was able to lift the bike and get back on my way. Then I fell again. The second fall took just as much work to get the bike back upright. To make matters worse, the temperature was 36 F and I was working up a serious sweat. On the third fall, no matter how much I tried, I could not get the bike back up.

Luckily, a couple of rangers eventually came along and helped me lift the bike. With only a mile left to my final destination, I gave the last fax to the rangers and asked them to deliver it to the checkpoint. I knew that if I fell again I might be stuck out there for hours. (Of course, that was assuming that I wasn’t injured.)

I eventually made it back to my campsite without further incident. What an adventure that trip was. Needless to say, I learned my lesson. Never break Rule No. 1. I hope that by sharing my story you will not have to learn this lesson the hard way too. Ride safe. See you out there.

  • 1 July 2015
  • Author: Army Safety
  • Number of views: 10197
  • Comments: 0
Categories: Off-DutyPMV-2