SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- USS Ronald Reagan's (CVN 76) Reagan Riders Association took to the streets and highways of San Diego County to participate in a winter safety ride just days after returning from a month-long underway period.
The Reagan Riders is a motorcyclist club sponsored by the ship, whose purpose is to train riders of all skill levels to be safer on the road.
The group meets twice monthly to review motorcycle safety issues, such as weather advisories and bike recalls that could affect their shipmates. At least once a month, the Riders go on a group outing.
The Reagan Riders began their trip early in the morning after training on safety topics such as drinking and riding, fatigue and inclement weather. After training, the 12 riders cruised a variety of roads to put their training into practice.
"The Navy has deemed that we are losing too many Sailors to inexperience," said Aircrew Survival Equipmentman 1st Class (AW/SW) Joseph Erskine, president of the Reagan Riders. "We take our Sailors out (on rides) and give them first-hand experience from guys who know the area well."
The Riders' ethos is simple: more training equals more Sailors arriving home safely.
"We are here to train Sailors and make them smarter motorcyclists," said Erskine. "There's no better way to do this than hitting the road together."
The Reagan Riders felt a group ride would improve riders' knowledge of safety throughout the upcoming holiday season.
"It typically doesn't rain much in Southern California, but that's not always the case. So we took a day to go over safe winter-riding habits," said Erskine, a rider with more than 20 years of riding experience.
The Reagan Riders have full command support for their training sessions for good reason. According to the Naval Safety Center, the Navy experienced 14 deaths in fiscal year 2009 from motorcycle-related accidents and the U.S. Marine Corps experienced 22.
"The Navy realizes how serious this issue is and is fully committed to reducing the number of Sailor motorcycle fatalities," said Operations Specialist 1st Class Abraham Nantin, the Reagan Riders' vice president. "Our club can go a long way to that end."
The roads and highways of Southern California can be particularly intimidating for riders of all experience levels.
"It's our goal to get our fellow Sailors accustomed to riding safely in Southern California," said Nantin. "If making it a friendly, group environment will improve their awareness, then that's what we'll do."
While safety is the chief concern for the Riders, having an enjoyable time is also high on the list.
"We of course are out here preaching safety, but we definitely make it fun," said Nantin. "The fact is we all share this passion, so why not enjoy it together? People learn better when they're having a good time and we're going to make the most of it."
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