Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
The Army Traffic Safety Training’s Motorcycle Safety Courses are now again available to soldiers on Fort Leavenworth at no cost to them.
The courses had not been offered since 2018 because of two major flooding events in 2019 at the Sherman Army Airfield training site.
“Existing training facilities and facility access were destroyed by those events, and replacing the facilities was a challenge due to available funding and available range space,” said Johnny Weaver, Garrison safety manager.
While a new training site was eventually able to be built, COVID-19 added to the reasons why classes were still not available in 2020.
During these times, riders could either train at Fort Riley, Kan., or find a civilian class.
“The bad thing (with civilian courses) is they had to actually pay for it,” said Kathy Matt, Motorcycle Safety Courses co-instructor.
In order for soldiers to ride a motorcycle on post, they must provide proof that they’ve taken the Basic Rider Course. The two-day course is intended for people who have never ridden a motorcycle or have had little experience riding a motorcycle. The course teaches them skills such as how to use a clutch, how to brake properly, balance, starting and stopping, learning to swerve and more.
“It’s all the basic controls you need to ride a motorcycle. They’ll get those on the first day, and the second day we’ll start integrating them together,” Matt said. “This is a building-block course. They (learn) one skill per exercise, and then the next exercise we add one more to it, so it builds up as they go along.”
Kathy Matt and her husband Dan Matt, have been teaching motorcycle safety courses on post and at civilian sites for more than 20 years; however, Kathy Matt said military installations are their favorite place to teach.
“For one thing, (the soldiers) are fit and also, they’re training ready,” she said. “They’re used to hearing instructions and following them. We’ve never given an instruction that they don’t try here, and that’s not always true in the civilian world.”
Six riders participated in the Basic Rider Course Aug. 9-10.
Command Sgt. Maj. Kristin Barrett, Special Troops Battalion, was one of four course participants who had never ridden a motorcycle before the start of the course.
“I’ve always wanted to ride a motorcycle, but I’ve put it off. The Army provides a good opportunity (with the course) because if you’ve never ridden before, you can do the Basic Rider Course and find out if it’s your cup of tea,” Barrett said. “You get the funda- mentals down with this instruction so you don’t go out there and just do it on your own and end up in a wreck.
“They provide all the equipment for free, and it gives you an opportunity to make sure you get the good fundamentals, so you can be a safe rid- er,” she said. “Plus, Dan is very knowledgeable, and he’s got a lot of experience. I really like that, too.”
Barrett said that after just the first hour of instruction on the motorcycle, she’s ready to get her own motorcycle.
“I’ve got a jeep, and I’ve got all the doors off …and I love it,” she said. “(The motorcycle) has the same feel. You got the wind blowing and I’m already thinking, ‘I need to get a bike.’”
Two of the participants had prior experience riding a motorcycle but said they wanted to re- familiarize themselves since it had been a long time.
The BRC was the first time Capt. Tara Jones, Command and General Staff Officer Course student, had been on a motorcycle in almost nine months.
“I had a sport bike back in 2014 (when first taking the course), but I didn’t really like the feel of it,so I got rid of it, and then I just rode dirt bikes for years,” Jones said. “I had a lot of fun in the dirt, but now I want to get back out on the street. I got myself a motorcycle last week, I insured it and it is sitting in the garage waiting for me to finish this course.
“My husband and most of my friends have bikes, and we will go out and do a ton of char-ity rides, just go out and meet up for dinner or go for a ride on a nice night when we don’t have anything better to do. It’s just a good hobby,” she said. “I’m very safety conscious so even if I didn’t have to take this course, I probably still would, and I’m just happy to get back into it.”
Capt. Andrew Kilcer, CGSOC student, has gone eight years since his last motorcycle ride.
“There’s some things you don’t forget because it’s literally like riding a bike, but there are a lot of things you forget, too,” Kilcer said. “I’m looking forward to the different safety things and some of the more reactionary drills we’ll be doing.
“(Riding a motorcycle) is fun. I don’t particularly do the (motorcycle) club scenes, but it gives you something to do other than driving the same vehicle or taking the car or truck to work,” he said. “I’ll also drive around the countryside where you can see a lot of things.”
At the end of the two-day BRC, participants are evaluated in the classroom and on the riding range before they are certified, Kathy Matt said.
Following completion of the BRC, riders have one year to decide whether they want to ride a cruiser or a sports bike, which will dictate whether they take the Experienced Rider Course/Basic Rider Course II or the Military Sports Bike Course respectively. The advanced courses must be repeated every five years according to Army Regulations, Weaver said.
The next Basic Rider Courses are Aug. 24-25, Aug. 30-31 and Sept. 21-22.
The next Basic Rider Course II sessions are Sept. 8, Sept. 13 and Sept. 24.
The next Military Sports Bike Rider Course sessions are Sept. 10 and Sept. 28.
To sign up for a course, visit https://home.army.mil/leavenworth/index.php/my-fort/all-services/safety, and select “Click here for schedule/instructions for Fort Leavenworth’s Motorcycle Safety Course.”