RAF Mildenhall, England --
Peering through a tinted visor, trees and grass transform into a mosaic blur as a sharp corner rapidly approaches. With a flick of the wrist the throttle rolls back and the exhaust erupts with a shrieking roar. Passing winds whip the rider forcing the pilot of the two wheeled beast to nestle closer to its cold shell. With a loosened grip the throttle snaps forward. The engine whines as the motorcycle slows, suddenly the horizon turns sideways. Inches from the passing tarmac the rider’s knee makes contact with asphalt.
Many people ride motorcycles for different reasons. For some, it’s an affordable mode of transportation, some enjoy the scenery or the open road and others simply love the thrill of the ride. For 55 Airmen based across the U.K., they felt that thrill July 26, 2016, when they ventured out to the Snetterton Circuit in Norwich, England.
“Today was amazing! We had a military track evening for sport bikes and non-sport bikes,” boasted Senior Master Sgt. Christopher Ostrom, 100th Civil Engineer Squadron fire chief. “It’s like being a fighter pilot - the rush of unbelievable acceleration, you become so focused on exactly what you’re doing. It’s fantastic!”
With speeds reaching into triple digits the track enables riders to focus on self-improvement rather than winning and gives them a safe place to do so.
“It’s not race day. You aren’t out here racing anyone, you’re seeing how your bike handles,” Ostrom clarified. “It makes you a better rider and you don’t have to worry about a blind corners, animals running out, pot holes or someone coming into your lane. It’s about advancing the ability of the rider and teaching them how to be safe.”
The event was coordinated by Tech. Sgt. Albert Carrasquillo, 48th Maintenance Group senior maintenance controller, and Staff Sgt. Nicholas Schaffer, 48th Equipment Maintenance Squadron aircraft structural maintenance craftsman, from RAF Lakenheath, England, in an effort to increase riders’ abilities.
“We were able to get 55 people out here today, it was a pretty good turn out,” Schaffer said. “This was a great opportunity for people to get out there and gain more confidence in their riding abilities!”
The day started with a motorcycle inspection and safety briefing where riders were split into two groups: novice and experienced.
Even experienced riders were able to learn and build on their skills.
“Personally, I always have doubts about my capabilities, but once I come out here and lay into a corner, I build more confidence, and confidence in a rider, keeps a rider upright,” said Master Sgt. Ryan Threatt, 423rd Security Forces Squadron logistics and readiness superintendent, from RAF Alconbury, England.
Motorcycle safety instructors along with track instructors were on hand to coach riders and ensure the evening went smoothly.
“This type of training with instructors leading, following, showing you the lines and giving you feedback is really important to help riders be safe,” Threatt said. “There’s always a risk when you put yourself on two wheels. With a car you have an airbag, with a motorcycle you just have air, so any type of skill, training or experience we gain makes us better riders and helps us keep the rubber side down.”
Red and white stripes flash across the rider’s helmet as the throttle is hammered back. The motorcycle snaps straight lifting the armored knee off of the pavement. Blaring down an open straightaway the machine and rider shoot under a checkered flag as one. The two dance around the track one last time before coming into the pit. With an evening filled with speed and adrenaline the rider gracefully escorts the tamed beast home.