Coppers and Choppers

By Tom Christian

When I was asked to cover this event and take part in some of the workshops it took me back a bit, to think about being a part of the training taking place in the parking lot of the Anaheim Angels baseball stadium in Orange County, California. Coppers and Choppers Motorcycle Safety Expo was held on Saturday, October 27th by the Anaheim Police Department with their Motor Officers as instructors. The last time I rode a motorcycle around cones in a parking lot was when I got my motorcycle license back in 1972 when I was sixteen years old on a Suzuki 250 Savage. Thinking maybe it might be time to sharpen up my skills and have a little fun doing it, I headed out for the event early Saturday morning.

The weather was great for the ride down the mountain to Anaheim to meet Karla Santillan and Sgt. Rick Boyer to get this event started. After meeting both of them and the rest of their crew, and the opening ceremonies, it was game on! Sgt. Boyer and I walked over the parking lot as he explained what each workshop was all about. Riders were divided into 3 groups based on their experience level: 1) a person with less than a year and a half riding experience, then 2) up to three years, and 3) ten years or more.

The first workshop I wanted to do was Control Braking with a left turn and a half-circle back, which will help you maneuver if you get yourself in a pinch with traffic. You have to get up to 40 mph and pass through a set of cones before you let off the throttle and hit your brakes, then make your left turn and circle back around. It took me a few times to get the technique the way the instructors wanted it done. I have to tell you I was a little nervous to get into the game with the workshops especially when all the officers knew my name. All the officers were professional & courteous with their instructions in making everything fun as they enjoyed watching all of us improve our riding skills.

From 10am to 2pm the workshops were action packed with activities for riders of all ages and levels of riding skills, and three-wheelers too. A list of the workshops clearly shows the intensive training in mind: Clutch Control with Braking, Braking and Collision Avoidance, Cone Patterns and Braking, and Marijuana DUI discussion/Q&A. All that before lunch. Each rider was assigned to a workshop that fit their skills and desire to improve, and kept the officers busy helping them. Everyone was having fun with each other as the day went by. All the workshops were busy with riders rotating from one to the other as every rider was improving their ability to perform the maneuvers, and also wanting to reach the highest skill level they could at this event. The Marijuana DUI class was discussion-only, to help riders know what is involved in a stop where marijuana is suspected or found.

The ladies really took this event to a higher level with their new skills in hand and it was fun watching them work those cones. The gals knew how to listen to the instructors and follow through with them. The guys were having a blast also and doing very well. I am a very big advocate for our lady riders; I want them to be safe out on the open road and now they are armed with a new skill set to help keep them out of trouble, thanks to the Anaheim Police Department’s Coppers and Choppers Motorcycle Safety Expo.

Before the second half of this event, we enjoyed a nice lunch break: There was a food truck that served tri-tip steak with a beef sandwich combination, with an ice cream truck standing by for dessert and a DJ to supply us with plenty of music to keep everyone moving. So after we fueled up, it was time to hit the parking lot again with all those cones to master. The afternoon group of activities consisted of: Top Gun Demo, Cone Patterns and Braking, Q&A: Ask a Motor Cop, DUI Demo, Paired Riding and Braking, and the Grand Finale was TOP GUN: Coppers vs. Choppers & Slow Race Competition. I personally wanted to catch up with some skills dealing with slow moving around cones for those tight spots where I have felt uncomfortable having a bigger bike. So I jumped in and got my feet wet with the rest of the riders trying not to hit too many cones.

Watching the riders master the cones was fun to see as they interacted with the instructors. The officers treated everybody with the greatest respect as they looked like they were having fun with us also. Things were moving faster in the afternoon as they were trying to cover all the workshops before day’s end. Volunteers riding while actually under the influence of alcohol partaken specifically for this, was a sight to see as they demonstrated their skills (or impairment to their skills) with different levels of alcohol impairment while riding bicycles through a set of cones. As they rode through the cones the instructor pointed out certain things that impaired riders do, so we could see some of the tattletale signs of a drunk rider.

Top Gun was absolutely the best part of the event that I enjoyed. Watching the riders compete against the officers in a very competitive slow-moving test of skills through cones that are in a square with so many configurations to deal with made it very exciting to watch like a cat and mouse game. Two riders; the one going first tries to make the second rider make a mistake, and has two minutes to ride through all of the cones. The second rider has to follow the first rider; if the second rider does not make a mistake, they win, but if they make a mistake the first rider wins. There were a couple of riders who were very good with this event and gave the officers a run for their money.

As the day was coming to an end I had a chance to chat with the young Explorers that came out to help set up and take down all the cones and equipment. With great pride I have to say that these young men and women were the nicest, hard-working, professional acting young people; it was a joy to talk to them and watch them work together. Kudos to all the folks from Anaheim Police Department and their crew for their hard work to hold this great Motorcycle Safety Expo. It was a great day.   

We want to thank the sponsors for Coppers and Choppers who were present with onsite exhibit booths:

•Lifestyle Cycles

•Shark Squad Motorcycle Attorneys

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