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Good Training Pays Off

Good Training Pays Off

PETER CRANTON
Brooke Army Medical Center
Fort Sam Houston, Texas

It was my girlfriend’s birthday and I wanted to surprise her by riding my Suzuki GSX-R1000 to Atlanta from Valdosta, Georgia. To get an early start, I cranked up my bike at 2 a.m. and headed up Interstate 75 North. Little did I know it was going to be a very short trip.

The GSX-R was my first motorcycle, and I’d owned it about a year. Shortly after I purchased the bike, my girlfriend bought me riding lessons from a Harley-Davidson dealership as a birthday gift. She knew how excited I was to ride and wanted to ensure I had proper training. The four-day Rider’s Edge course helped me a lot. One of the lessons we learned was how to properly secure items to the bike. Cruiser-type motorcycles, such as Harley-Davidsons, often have saddlebags or even trunks to carry gear. On my motorcycle, however, I was pretty much limited to whatever I could strap to the gas tank or rear fender.

As I got ready to hit the road that morning, I used a spider bungee cord to strap my travel bag to the rear fender. I then checked and double-checked the bag to make sure it was secure before heading out. Everything seemed normal as I pulled onto the highway. Periodically, I reached back and checked the bag to make sure it was still there. I’d only gone about 20 miles when things suddenly changed.

I was riding in the right-hand lane at 75 mph when the engine light came on and I lost all power. I had no clue what was happening, but I felt like I was riding on ice as my bike skidded at least 100 feet into the fast lane and stopped. Fortunately, my motorcycle training taught me to not panic, so I didn’t lose control.

My mind was racing. Here I was on the interstate at zero dark thirty with traffic rapidly overtaking me. I got off my motorcycle and started pushing it into the emergency lane. As I pushed, I noticed the bike was difficult to move. When I got into the emergency lane, I checked the bike to see what had happened. At first, I didn’t notice anything. Then it struck me — “Where did my bag go?” It didn’t take long to find it. The bag I thought I’d properly secured had fallen and jammed between the motorcycle’s fender and rear wheel. That’s what locked up the rear wheel and sent me skidding across the road.

As I stood there, my heart was pounding in my chest. I realized how bad the situation could have been had I not been trained to handle motorcycle emergencies properly. Beyond the initial training I received from Harley-Davidson, I’d also taken the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Military SportBike RiderCourse. In an emergency, good training pays off.

I learned that day it is essential to properly secure any bags or luggage when riding a motorcycle. I should have known the spider bungee cord I was using wasn’t up to the job. Since the accident, I have looked into buying a tank bag. Had I been using one that morning, I would have avoided this close call.

  • 26 March 2023
  • Author: USACRC Editor
  • Number of views: 192
  • Comments: 0
Categories: Off-DutyPMV-2
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