Marine Corps Air ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif. --
Riding motorcycles comes with risk. Riders accept this risk as the cost for the unparalleled feeling of riding. In order to continue this passion, Marines must meet requirements set by the Marine Corps.
In addition to the Basic Riders Course, active duty service members at the Combat Center are required to go through the Advanced Riders Course or the Sport Riders Course as well. These two courses may differ in name, but are nearly the same and are commonly combined on the course’s track.
“We find that students get more out of it if we have two different kinds of bikes out there,” said Brent Athy, rider coach, Combat Center safety office. “It gives a broader experience base.”
The two-day course is meant to increase the confidence and control of riders. It’s geared toward street riding.
All active duty service members are required to take ARC at least 120 days after the completion of BRC. The course is open to DOD employees, retirees, and dependents.
“If they want to take the course and I’ve got space for them, I’m not going to turn them away,” Brent said.
The advanced course is a follow up to the BRC and is not meant for riders with less experience. The BRC provides a broad-based skill set to get out in traffic, negotiate successfully with some confidence and not get injured. The skills in the advanced courses expand on those building blocks.
“From the basic to the advanced course, there are definitely some changes,” Brent said. “We improve their turning techniques, their braking skills and their controls. If we tried to teach this to a basic person, it would be way too much.”
The 120 days between the basic and advanced courses allow the Marines time to adjust to their motorcycle and get use to the feel of their cruiser or sport bike. Although patrons of the course may differ in their type of bike, they are taught nearly the same lessons in combined courses.
“We do them both at the same time, mainly because the curriculum is the same in the classroom and the exercises are the same on the range,” Brent said. “Basically, the only thing that differs is we have to coach each individual specifically to their bike.”
The bike-specific training is an important aspect of the course. The design, weight and position of riding that separate capabilities of cruisers versus sport bikes makes a large difference in the way Marines ride.
The cruisers give riders a more comfortable sitting position, but can’t lean side to side as far as sport bikes, due to the bike design. Alternatively, the sport bikes allow more versatility in cornering thanks to a sleeker design, but their lean forward position makes longer rides more fatiguing.
Marines need to learn and be comfortable with their personally-owned motorcycles.
“For the advanced course, we want them to be more comfortable on the bikes, have some more finesse,” Brent said. “We do customized coaching for the rider on the bike.”
The lessons taught in the advanced courses range from the bike itself to the physical and mental factors of the riders.
The two-day course begins in the classroom, where the riders get to know themselves as riders.
“We go over the mental aspects in the classroom, just some things to think about,” Brent said. “There’s a quick little survey just to let them get to know themselves a little better and what type of person they are.”
The survey reveals the individual’s level of risk management through a series of questions and answers which are given numerical values.
When they get on the bike they’re a little more self conscious of what their potential is, Brent said. If they’ve got things that set them off and they realize what that is, it is a lot easier to avoid it.
The following day, the riders move onto the track where theory comes into practice. The students improve on the cornering and braking skills they had learned in the BRC. During the course, the riders circle around the course’s open-pavement training area, swerving around cones and leaning on the corners.
“There’s a lot more refinement involved,” Brent said. “You have to be a lot smoother, you have to be a lot more confident on the motorcycle to achieve it, which a basic rider doesn’t have.”
Brent and the other coaches keep a watchful eye on the riders. Unlike the BRC, there is no graded test for the advanced course.
As the student progresses through the exercises, the coaches judge their performance and their ability. If they are clearly not comfortable and not ready for the curriculum, the students are asked to retake the course at a later date.
“We’re not just cycling people through the system,” Brent said. “We want to make sure that they’re understanding the material and that they’re able to do it. “
The course is taught an average of twice a month, with 12 spots open for sport and cruiser riders. To join the course call 830-6154.