Why Training Matters
CHIEF WARRANT OFFICER 3 TERRI CAMP
2nd Battalion, 210th Aviation Regiment
Fort Eustis, Virginia
I have always been an advocate for the Motorcycle Mentorship Program and Advanced Motorcycle Education Program. The lessons I’ve learned from fellow riders and the reinforcement of positive riding habits have been useful on more than one occasion. The event I share in this article is a perfect example.
One Memorial Day weekend, I traveled on a mileage pass to Narrowsburg, New York, to enjoy an event in the Catskill Mountains. The trip was very scenic, relaxing and enjoyable, making it easy to just clear my mind and only think about riding my motorcycle. Due to a storm traveling up the East Coast, though, I decided to leave the event a day early.
On my return trip, I was at mile marker 128.7 on I-95, just past Fredericksburg, Virginia, when I felt a light shimmy in the motorcycle — as if it was on a grated surface. I changed lanes to see if maybe the road had a slight groove that I had not noticed. The bike seemed fine, but then I felt it again and decided to exit off the interstate at Harley of Richmond just down the road.
As I was formulating my exit plan, the rear tire began to wobble, causing the back end to drift noticeably. The speed limit on that stretch of road is 70 mph, which is what I was doing in the center lane of the three-lane highway. Realizing something had gone wrong, I turned on my right signal, released the throttle and moved onto the right shoulder and pulled off the highway. The motorcycle slowly came to a stop. When I dismounted, I noticed the bike had a flat rear tire.
A group of riders that just departed Rolling Thunder witnessed the event and pulled off the highway with me. One rider, who happened to be a teacher at an advanced rider school in North Carolina, said he figured he would be calling 911 and not just a tow truck for me. He added that a lot of motorcyclists make the fatal mistake of applying their brakes when they lose traction. Thanks to my repeated Basic RiderCourse 2 and Advanced RiderCourse training, I fought the urge to use my brake. I just let the bike glide to a stop.
Later, a bike shop removed the tire to discover the inner tube and tire tape had actually melted into one big lump. My motorcycle only had 5,000 miles on it, and the rear tire had just been replaced by the dealer 3,000 miles earlier due to damage from some debris I had run over near my workplace.
The most important takeaway from this event for me — and any other rider — was attending training annually allows us to continually refine our skills and maintain good habits while preventing the development of bad habits. So, why attend motorcycle training annually? Because traveling down the highway at 70 mph and your back tire starts to wobble is not the time to discover the wrong thing to do.