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Motorcycle safety not just for summer months

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- In the past two weeks the Air Force has lost two riders to motorcycle mishaps. Since the start of this fiscal year, the AF has suffered the loss of three riders. Additionally, one rider will have to live with a permanent partial disability. With one exception all where single vehicle mishaps in which the operators lost control of their motorcycles.

We are very early in the year as far as the "normal" season for riders taking their motorcycles out of the garage and venturing out on their first ride. But with the unusually warm winter weather we need to ensure we are putting out messages to all riders to be careful and follow some very basic precautions after being idle for a few months.

Even an experienced rider should re-acclimate themselves to the riding conditions after a down time. A person's riding skills quickly deteriorate when they don't ride on a daily basis. It is this slight deterioration which often gets motorcyclists into trouble when they first venture out. Failing to properly bring their motorcycle back to a pristine riding condition further puts our riders at risk. Here are some basics to remember before venturing out after a winter shutdown.

1. Perform all routine maintenance on your ride. Use resources and precautionary checklists available at the Motorcycle Safety Foundation website. A slight difference in tire pressures can make a big difference in the way the cycle performs.

2. Start out riding cautiously and slowly. If possible, and your installation has one, try to book a session on the Honda SMARTrainer. Even though it is not a true simulator it will present you with scenarios to refresh your riding skills.

3. Make your first ride short and then continue to build your seat time.

4. If possible find an abandoned parking lot or area where you can practice turning, breaking and etc.

For more information on motorcycle safety, or to schedule time at the SMARTrainer at Ellsworth Air Force Base, call 385-7233.

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