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DC_Dave 11-14-2006 02:26 PM

Re: Back From War, But Still Taking Risks.
Motorcycles are more dangerous to operate than cars, of that there can be no doubt.

What gets most new riders through the early days of riding is a healthy respect for the machine and their own mortality.

It seems that our returning troops may lack this respect-- and may have a reckless disregard for danger.

That can be a lethal combination.

pplassm 11-14-2006 03:19 PM

Re: Back From War, But Still Taking Risks.
As a retired soldier, I can tell you that off-duty antics take a higher toll of our good soldiers than actual combat. It is takes constant vigilance and supervision to make sure that our best don't do exactly what is described here.

There is a school of thought amoung certain military leaders that motorcycles are bad. This certainly attracts some young soldiers to motorcycling just to rebel.

Then again, I know many fellow military riders, and they are, just about without exception, amazing people.

ejis 11-14-2006 03:26 PM

Re: Back From War, But Still Taking Risks.
On every base I've ever been on (USN, USMC), there are signs, flyers, etc. warning about the dangers of recklessness. And showing the results. I've also heard the stats about soldiers dying on return from deployment - it's a tragic trend.

Stay safe out there.

greatoldbikes 11-14-2006 04:32 PM

Re: Back From War, But Still Taking Risks.
Sounds familiar. When my grandfather came back from WWII, he promptly bought a Harley. Promptly crashed it as well. That was enough for grandma - no more motorcycles. Probably saved his life (he was a terrible driver, too).

Lots of doughboys came back from the WWII and Vietnam after the 'thrill of war' (in this context) to find themselves bored to tears in law-and-order America. What's the most fun you can have outside of liquor or a brothel? Motorcycles.

The Hells Angels MC were started by vets who had nicknamed their fighting unit... the Hells Angels. Go figure.

Now, boys and girls are coming back from 24/7 attacks, firefights, IED's, snipers and so forth to a country that despite rampant gang violence, idiots in gridlock traffic and so forth, must seem pretty tame in comparison. Especially if you land back in some snoozeville rural burg with one stoplight.

So what to do? Well, there's always meth and crime sprees, but if that's too dark, there's always motorcycles.

Problem is, a 600cc bike now packs 100hp and near Indy-car speed, a far cry from grampy's WLA Harley 45.

So combine no riding skills, rocket-powered bikes and a very high fear tolerance, and you have the perfect storm for a major uptick in vets having motorcycle accidents.

At least that's how I see it.


seruzawa 11-14-2006 04:41 PM

Re: Back From War, But Still Taking Risks.
On the other hand when I came back from Nam I immediately chopped a W650 Ksaki.. 8" tubes, etc. The brakes were so bad and the handling so squirrelly that I'd give better than even money that a modern 600 wouldn't be one bit more dangerous than that flexy 650 with a 2.75 cross section front rim and drum brakes.

And I did manage to throw it down the road on Angeles Crest a time or two. After I got the stainless steel screw in my ankle I figured it was time to slow down.

seruzawa 11-14-2006 04:44 PM

Re: Back From War, But Still Taking Risks.
Been there, done that. I'd advise them to exercise caution but I know from first hand experience that when you are in that mode you DO NOT LISTEN.

TheFox 11-14-2006 05:53 PM

The ongoing persecution of servicemen about motorcycles
I'm back as of 2 weeks ago, and I haven't rode yet. Why? I'm out in less that 50 days, this time for good. The persecution at Camp Lejeune has become such a problem, I don't even want to ride anymore. I have to sign papers for this, papers for that, a Page 11 entry just for owning a bike, and mandatory monthly meetings. It's insane.

The real shame is that I am responsible. I wear zip together leathers for a 'day out' and boots, jacket, gloves and helmet with the god-awful road guard vest at the least everytime else. I have been riding for 8 some years now. I've had one speeding ticket in the last 7 years. I stay out of trouble, and understand there is a time and place for exuberance and histrionics.

Yet I see riders every day blowing off the Corps' rules, and not being stopped. The problem is not lack of smarts, it's lack of leadership. Small unit leaders at this base have been so stripped of authority that it's difficult to stop juniors from doing it. The senior enlisted and officers in beanie helmets and short sleeve shirts on Harleys are ignored from a disciplinary standpoint, and on the subject of enforcement, they don't set a good example.

There are still gaping holes in the uniform regluations as well. Why? Because they're not written by motorcyclists, and quality data on the results of crashes with good protective gear on are non existant. People are paying $40 for an Icon road guard vest to meet the regs, and have on a long sleeved cotton shirt and a novelty helmet. Most fatal accidents are of the "motorcycle leaving the road" variety, and a line green reflective vest just isn't that abrasion resistant. Well, it does help other people see you though! Golly, then, problem solved. Sigh. My disappointment continues.


P.S. Note that there is now offical U.S. Army branded leathers available, and yet you have to put something over them to ride on base because they do not meet the PPE requirement. Interesting, hm?

mitctho 11-14-2006 08:11 PM

The Army is trying to combat this problem with a voluntary club/mentoring program on installations. If you are Army and want to make a difference, consider starting or joining a club on your base and mentoring a newbie.



mitctho 11-14-2006 08:13 PM

Re: The ongoing persecution of servicemen about motorcycles
Actually, the Power Trip Alpha U.S. Army licensed jacket has 'pull out' blaze orange/reflective panels that meet PPE, I believe. These stow in the jacket when not wanted.

silentgrayfellow 11-14-2006 10:32 PM

Re: Back From War, But Still Taking Risks.
I've been in the Army for over 20 years and been riding for 17 years. Currently deployed to Iraq. On Fort Hood the safety office sends out reports giving the details of accidents that have occured. Most of these accidents (I would estimate 80%) involve riders who are either new to the sport, unlicensed, or alcohol is involved. Those who are not in the military would not believe how we get pounded all the time with safety messages, briefings, etc. Soldiers are briefed over and over about wearing safety belts, the dangers of driving while impaired, etc. Motorcyclists in our unit (maybe on the whole post) had to sign some paper stating they wouldn't do anything unsafe, would wear all required safety gear, etc. This seems to me like they (unit leaders) are doing this to cover their asses. Then if someone has an accident and it is found they were intoxicated, speeding, or not wearing a helmet, the leadership will have written evidence that they preached safety.

I think they are failing to target the people most at risk. They should be talking to ALL the soldiers, not just the ones currently registered to ride on post.

The people most at risk are those that are considering buying a motorcycle but haven't bought one yet, or those that are newbies that haven't registered their bike on post. These people are not getting the mentoring and guidance that experienced riders (like me) could be giving them.

My platoon has a huddle the last working day of each week, and I or one of the other NCOs the ride put out some safety information about motorcycling. They know they can talk with me if they are interested in getting a motorcycle or have any questions about the sport.

A lot of people that work on post (not just Soldiers) don't ride their motorcycle on the base because they don't want to go through the process of registering the bike and signing up for and taking the MSF course, not to mention having to sign a "safety contract" and having to get and endless barrage of safety briefings ad nauseum.

Sorry for the long rant...

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