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Ride safe and live

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Donald Bacon, 55th Wing commander, sits on his motorcycle while an instructor teaches the Basic Riders Course 2 motorcycle training class in the Air Force Weather Agency parking lot on Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., on July 7. 

(U.S. Air Force Photo by Charles Haymond/Released)

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Donald Bacon, 55th Wing commander, sits on his motorcycle while an instructor teaches the Basic Riders Course 2 motorcycle training class in the Air Force Weather Agency parking lot on Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., on July 7. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Charles Haymond/Released)

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Donald Bacon, 55th Wing commander, weaves through cones during the Basic Riders Course 2 motorcycle training class in the Air Force Weather Agency parking lot on Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., on July 7. 

(U.S. Air Force Photo by Charles Haymond/Released)

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Donald Bacon, 55th Wing commander, weaves through cones during the Basic Riders Course 2 motorcycle training class in the Air Force Weather Agency parking lot on Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., on July 7. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Charles Haymond/Released)

U.S. Air Force Photo Brig. Gen. Donald Bacon, 55th Wing commander, checks the pressures of this tire during a T-Clock inspection outside in the Air Force Weather Agency parking lot on Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., on July 7.  General Bacon is participating in the Basic Riders Course 2 motorcycle training class. 

(U.S. Air Force Photo by Charles Haymond/Released)

U.S. Air Force Photo Brig. Gen. Donald Bacon, 55th Wing commander, checks the pressures of this tire during a T-Clock inspection outside in the Air Force Weather Agency parking lot on Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., on July 7. General Bacon is participating in the Basic Riders Course 2 motorcycle training class. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Charles Haymond/Released)

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- There is an activity that is so much fun that the command chief and the wing commander do it. It is so economical that many other people do it too. What is it? Ride a motorcycle.

This is an increasingly popular mode of transportation because of gas prices, and simply, it is fun. However, the number of personnel who ride and are unfamiliar with the regulations and requirements continue to surprise me (AFI 91-207 and DODI 6055.4). If you are in U.S. military, you must attend formal motorcycle training before you can ride and that includes test drive. No training, no test drive.

Air Force Instruction 91-207 and Air Combat Command, Supplement 1, states that new riders are required to have a safety briefing and personnel arriving at a new assignment are required to have a safety briefing with their squadron commander. Yes, riding a motorcycle is serious business, and the Air Force wants you to participate in a safe and informed manner.

There are a variety of training opportunities in Omaha and on Offutt. There are more classes on Offutt than most military installations and in Omaha. Offutt offers the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's Basic Riders Course, Basic Riders Course 2, Advanced Rider Course and the Military Sport Bike Course. All classes are taught by MSF-certified rider coaches and the BRC and BRC2 are license-waiver classes.

A license-waiver class means that if you take your MSF completion card to the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles, they will put a motorcycle endorsement on your Nebraska license and you may be eligible for a discount from your motorcycle insurance company. You will not be required to take the written or road test at the DMV if you bring them an MSF completion card from a Nebraska certified rider coach. There is no charge for Offutt military and civilians taking the training on Offutt. There is no reimbursement for training taken off base.

Training is important and honing skills is important too. Not all riding experiences are necessarily good experiences and bad habits can be acquired. I have always been a proponent of motorcycle training. I am amused by the experienced riders who take the class and are surprised to learn that the training class was not only an enjoyable experience but actually learned techniques and maneuvers to help them become better, safer riders.

Safety gear is important. To illustrate this point, an Airman from Team Offutt recently had a motorcycle accident. Fortunately, the Airman had attended the training and paid attention to the section on personal protective equipment or safety gear and walked away from his motorcycle accident without a scratch. The AFI is very specific on what clothing is required when riding a motorcycle. A rider's helmet, face shield or goggles have to meet ANSI standards, long sleeve shirt, long pants, over-the-ankle boots and full-fingered gloves, and the "garments" must be brightly colored during the day, and reflective at night. There are clothes and then there are protective equipment clothes. The Airman wore a full-face helmet, an armored jacket and armored pants with his over-the-ankle boots and gloves. The road damage from sliding across the pavement to his helmet and face shield is staggering as is the damage to his armored clothing. The use of that equipment meant the difference between a short trip to the ER, or a long painful recovery from serious, serious road rash and likely broken bones.

Motorcycle riders: ride safe and automobile operators, look twice!