I was so excited. The weather was looking very nice and the day was turning into the first warm, sunny Sunday of year.

I reached for my leather jacket and after having trouble with the zipper, decided to wear a sweatshirt instead. I grabbed my helmet, my reflective vest and my Army gloves and boots. I was ready to take my motorcycle out for the first time of the year.

The day started out quite enjoyable, but about two hours and 85 miles into my ride I was cruising through a small town, and in a flash, a vehicle in front of me made a sudden stop. Quite startled, I locked up my brakes, skidded for several yards and laid my motorcycle down to prevent careening into the back of the car. Full of adrenaline, I jumped to my feet and pulled my motorcycle off the pavement. My hand was throbbing with pain and blood was soaking through my sweatshirt and pants at the elbow, knee and forearm.

The injuries I suffered were light, a broken thumb and some serious road rash, but my motorcycle was not so lucky. The estimate done by a local repair shop placed the damages at $10,000.

Needless to say, I wouldnít be enjoying any more motorcycle rides on warm, sunny Sundays for quite awhile, but I did learn some valuable lessons.

A leather jacket and leather pants or reinforced motorcycle riding apparel would have likely prevented the injuries to my left arm and knee. Armored motorcycle gloves potentially could have saved my thumb and reinforced armored motorcycle boots would have been a better choice.

Conducting a full inspection on my motorcycle before taking it out after sitting for four months would have been a wiser choice. I believe low tire pressure in my front tire was definitely a contributing factor to the accident.

Iíve been riding motorcycles for 36 years, but even as a seasoned motorcycle rider, I realize that I donít know it all. Instead, I am constantly learning from other riders and from various training opportunities. In fact, I recently attended my fourth iteration of the Motorcycle Safety Foundationís Experienced Riders Course (recently renamed Basic Rider Course II).

I recommend every person who owns a motorcycle or who is thinking about buying a motorcycle, seek out opportunities to improve their awareness and their capabilities. I recommend motorcyclists ask their unit leaders about starting up a local motorcycle mentorship and safety program. I recommend motorcyclists seek out additional training at every opportunity.

I also recommend motorcyclists visit the U.S. Army Combat Readiness and Safety Centerís POV and Motorcycle Safety website at https://safety.army.mil/povmotorcyclesafety and the centerís Motorcycle Mentorship Program website at https://safety.army.mil/MMP for more information. Another great resource is the Motorcycle Safety Foundation at www.msf-usa.org.

For motorcycle licensing and training information at Fort Bragg and Pope Field, go to www.braggmotorcyclecourse.com; call the Bragg Motorcycle Course at 396-4677; or visit their office; Building 373, Sonic Street, behind Pope Theater.

Armed with additional knowledge and valuable lessons learned, we can help reverse the trend. I wouldnít wish what happened to me or worst on anyone. Instead, I hope other motorcyclists take note of my poor judgment and learn from my mistakes.