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Marines wait in line for a circuit course during a Military Sportbike Rider's Course, offered by Cape Fox Professional Services, for riders looking to improve their skills aboard the Combat Center April. 13.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Kelsey J. Green

Combat Center ‘sports’ new motorcycle course

13 Apr 2009 | Cpl. Nicole A. LaVine

The Combat Center jumped on board with a Department of Defense-wide program designed specifically for sportbike riders in the military April 13.

The Military Sportbike Rider Course, or MSRC, was initially introduced in Jan. 2008 after the Naval Safety Center determined that specific training for sportbike riders was necessary due to the number of fatalities on the rise, according to the NSC Web site

That May, Navy and Marine Corps installations began running the course.

The one-day course puts students through three hours of classroom time and five hours of hands-on driving, said Frank R. Santiago, a motorcycle rider coach with the Combat Center Safety Office.

“Our goal here is to make survivors,” Santiago said. “Sportbike riders naturally have a more aggressive attitude about riding and are not as casual as the ‘cruiser’ riders in most cases. MSRC is the next step for sportbike riders after the BRC [Basic Riders Course].”

Students in the course dig deeper into details they learned in BRC, such as learning their limitations and the limitations of the bike itself, Santiago said. The course will aid in giving riders more confidence in their abilities while keeping their egos in check.

Staff Sgt. Chad A. Cagle, the Company A gunnery sergeant for Headquarters Battalion, has been riding motorized bikes for 16 years. He said he understands why the Navy and Marine Corps would “single out” sportbikes riders.

“I think part of it has to do with the un-proportional amount of fatalities on sport bikes,” said Cagle, a North Little Rock, Ark., native. “I think a lot of that goes back not only to us as riders, but to us as Marines, too. We tend to think we’re invincible, and that mentality is not always combat related.”

Bob Piirainen, the traffic safety program manager here, said the increase in motorcycle fatalities played a large role in the establishment of the program.

“There are more sportbike riders than there are cruisers,” Piirainen said. “The sportbike riders are also getting hurt at a much higher rate than the cruiser riders.

“I like the program because these guys are taking what they learned in BRC and ERC [experience riders course] and building on it,” he said. “In the MSRC they increase their speed and lean angles, and get more confident in what their motorcycles can do for them. We want these guys to know what they can do with their motorcycles so they can stay out of harm’s way on the road.”

The idea of making another advanced riding program is being discussed by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation; only this one will target cruiser riders, Piirainen said. 

“Even though I know the commands are busy, this is not only a new requirement in the Marine Corps, it’s also something the guys will get many benefits from,” Piirainen said. “I ask that we get as many commands as possible to make commitments so we can really get this thing rolling.”

The next MSRC is scheduled to take place in May. For more information on MSRC, refer to Office of the Chief of Naval Operations Instruction 5100.12H or call the Combat Center Safety Office motor safety vehicles section at 830-6154.

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