NEW ORLEANS --
Safety is the one thing you can’t afford to ignore.
That’s the advice of Master Sgt. Tim Murphy, the motor transport operations chief for Marine Forces Reserve and the president of the Motorcycle Mentorship Program for MARFORRES.
“This program accomplishes many things,” said Murphy. “Firstly, it’s commandant-directed. But besides that, it allows you to develop better skills as a rider, become confident on the road and most importantly, keep yourself alive.”
The MMP is a command-local organization that runs on a chapter-based system, Murphy said. Any battalion-level size unit is supposed to have one, but we’re seeing that it isn’t happening everywhere.
At MARFORRES, the MMP has monthly meetings to go over various safety and motorcycle-related topics and periods of military education.
“We do (periods of military education) on everything from driver awareness to proper (personal protective equipment) to preventative maintenance,” said Sgt. Charlee Law, an administrative clerk and Motorcycle Safety Foundation Advanced Rider Coach at MARFORRES. “The PMEs are productive because they can teach you new things about your bike or give you a different perspective on riding.”
In addition to PMEs, the monthly meetings consist of guided discussion and can even include guest speakers.
“We’ve got members that have seen everything you can possibly see on a bike,” said Murphy. “Getting that experience and perspective can make you so much better of a rider.”
But you can’t get experience if you don’t know how to ride.
“The Basic Riders Course is the first step if you’ve just purchased a bike, or are looking to get one soon,” said Law. “This is a class that teaches you everything.”
Riders begin in a classroom, so they can know what to expect when they do get on the road, Murphy said. Then an advanced simulator allows riders the opportunity to get a feel for the bike and to test out some of the stuff they learned in class. After that, they get to go out to a pre-set course and actually ride to test those motorcycle fundamentals, he said.
The BRC is a required course for any Marine that owns a motorcycle or has a motorcycle designation on their driver’s license. There are other courses, such as the Advanced Riders Course which is highly encouraged for any Marine that has completed the BRC, and the Sport Bike Course for those Marines that own sport motorcycles.
“These courses are the number one way to learn how to ride,” said Murphy. “These courses offer the new rider a controlled environment where you can learn what you can and cannot do on a motorcycle.”
But the courses aren’t the only way to learn, Law said. The MMP conducts monthly group rides that teach best practices for riding, as well as providing a more hands-on approach to confidence building.
“It’s given me more experience riding in a group,” she said. “When you’re out there with other people, you can talk about what you did well, what you didn’t do as well and other observations that a classroom can’t give you.”
The other most important thing, said Murphy, is personal protection equipment.
“Wearing the proper PPE is what keeps the skin on your body and your eyes in your head,” he said. “There are people that complain about PPE; they say it’s a hassle. But when you go down, you’ll find out how important it is.”
Law wholly agrees on the importance of protective equipment.
“PPE is so important because it actually works,” she said. “I’ve been in a few wrecks myself and that is what kept me in one piece.”
It’s really the combination of all of those things that keep you safe on a bike, says Law. Training, experience and your gear are what make all the difference.
It works a little differently for Marines stationed at all of the satellite sites around the country, said Murphy. By order, every Marine that owns a motorcycle must at least take the BRC and inform their command of their motorcycle status.
“Once you register with your command that you do have a bike, or are planning to get one, MARFORRES will pay for you to go out in town and take a course that is Motorcycle Safety Foundation certified,” he said. “The next step is just continuing to practice on your bike and make sure you’re being safe. Riding should be fun, not stressful.”
For more information on the Motorcycle Mentorship Program, contact Master Sgt. Tim Murphy at (504) 697-8803 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.