Spring is in the air at Fort Riley; for some that means chirping birds and buzzing bees, but for others it's something else entirely.
It's time to dust off those motorcycles and enjoy another riding season, and to prepare its Soldiers and civilians for the potential hazards that entails, Fort Riley and the 1st Infantry Division held its inaugural Motorcycle Mentorship Ride May 21.
The ride, which saw 275 people participate, was a culmination of Motorcycle Safety Week, when units throughout the Big Red One held their own training and inspections to make sure Soldiers get off their bikes alive.
Sgt. 1st Class Jim Kebbel, the assistant motorcycle safety mentor for the 1st Inf. Div., said with better weather comes greater risk.
"When it's hot and dry, there are probably four times as many motorcycles on the road than two months ago," Kebbel said. "Now is the time to really stress and say we can have all kinds of fun, but we have to do it safely."
Sgt. 1st Class Bernard Washington, a rider from the 601st Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade with 20 years experience riding, had advice for the younger generation.
"This bike will kill you; you have to respect the bike, and you have to respect speed limits," Washington said. "We have a lot of young riders out here. They try to get out here and race and it's not good.
"Just be safe, obey the law, and have fun riding."
First Sgt. Wayne Phillips of the 1st Inf. Div. Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion added with Soldiers risking their lives in war zones, there's no need for them to risk their lives on a bike at home.
"It's good to remind the new riders why we have the protective equipment and the practical skills," Phillips said. "With all these units getting back from Iraq, it'd be a shame to have a Soldier go downrange, fight for their country for 12 months, come home, have a silly accident and die."
Kebbel said he hopes the ride can become an annual event. The honorary sergeant major of the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment "Black Lions," retired Sgt. Maj. George Terry, agreed.
"I was in the Army for 31 years and never saw anything like this," Terry said. "I hope they do this every year."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16