Health & Safety

May 10, 2012

Motorcycle training: Not just another check in the box

Cpl. Shelby Shields
Desert Warrior Staff
photo by Cpl. Shelby Shields
Rob Hephner, total control instructor with the Lee Parks’ Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic, demonstrates how to properly maneuver a bike during a turn at the station motorcycle range during a Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic Monday.

Anyone on station who rides a motorcycle, and even those who don’t, are regularly being reminded of training and proper riding equipment.

Marines are constantly hearing things like “make sure you take all the riding courses” and “always wear your PPE (proper protective equipment).” For some it becomes redundant and often ignored.

However, taking these training courses and wearing the right gear potentially saved Johnny Semroska’s life.

“I know it gets said all the time, but dress for the crash, not for the ride,” said Semroska, a station motorcycle instructor with Cape Fox Professional Services.

Last month, Semroska was involved in a high speed accident while out riding at the Chuckwalla Valley Raceway in Desert Center, Calif.

“I was going about 120 mph down one of the straight-aways, I tried to down shift and hit a false neutral twice and wasn’t able to break in time for the upcoming turn,” explained Semroska. “My bike went off the track and not far in front of me was this huge dirt burm, all I can remember thinking was ‘this is going to hurt’.”

When Semroska’s bike impacted the burm the front end of the bike, the speedometer, front suspension, etc., hurled back and knocked Semroska in the chest and helmet.  He was then catapulted approximately 30 feet from his bike and briefly lost consciousness.

Luckily, Semroska only sustained minor injuries, some lacerations, bruises and a mild concussion thanks to proper protective equipment. According to paramedics, his leather riding suit and chest protector prevented Semroska from broken ribs and potentially punctured lungs. He was released from the hospital that evening and returned to work on Monday.

“I never cut corners with riding gear, even if I’m just going down the street,” added Semroska. “Some people like to judge me for it, but it only takes an extra couple of minutes and things could have gone a lot different that day if I hadn’t been wearing it all.”

Any personnel on station, military or civilian, must adhere to not only Department of Defense and Marine Corps mandated riding rules but Arizona law as well.

“We see violations almost every day and it’s a huge concern,” said David Haller, station traffic safety manager.

For full story, visit

Station riders participate in a Lee Parks’ Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic Monday at the station motorcycle range. Riders learned more complex riding techniques and were able to correct any bad habits acquired before the training.

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