Riders brave winds to ride for safety
May 4, 2010
- More than 700 Fort Bliss motorcycle riders took part in a installiation-sponsored safety ride around El Paso.
FORT BLISS, Texas -- Hundreds of motorcycle riders cruised through Fort Bliss and El Paso April, 30 as part of the annual Fort Bliss Motorcycle Safety ride to bring awareness to motorcycle safety.
Fort Bliss Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security along with the installation safety office hosted the event that attracted more than 700 riders.
After hearing the command to start their engines and form up, the riders fell into a double-lined formation that stretched more than a mile.
Despite facing strong winds of more than 20 mph, the riders completed the 39-mile ride across Fort Bliss and El Paso.
"They say motorcycle riders are crazy and for you all to be riding in this weather, you are definitely crazy," said Col. Joseph A. Simonelli Jr., Fort Bliss garrison commander.
Simonelli said there are three very important motorcycle riding components: education, mentorship, and personal-protective equipment.
"You are never too old to learn," he said. "For those experienced riders that I talk too, everyday they try to improve their education. You want to be better at what you do."
As far as mentorship, Simonelli urged young riders to partner up with a seasoned, experienced mentor to learn about riding.
"That is why each and every one of you are here today," he said. "You are those mentors and I encourage you to continue doing that and bring that camaraderie."
Organizers ensured that each rider was properly equipped to participate in the ride. The requirements included a proper state registration and inspection; post decal, the completion of a motorcycle rider's safety course, and proper safety gear. The event did not require a fee and each rider received a T-shirt for participating.
Sgt. 1st Class Marc Warnock, DPTMS operations noncommissioned officer in charge, said the event registration gave the post safety officials an opportunity check the post's motorcycle riders.
"This gave us an opportunity to check paperwork," said Command Sgt. Maj. Edison Rebuck, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division rear detachment command sergeant major. "Safety is always a concern."
Rebuck, a 20-year rider, said he was pleased with the turn out of the event despite the chilly day.
"It's wasn't that bad," Rebuck said. "It was a good ride. The turn out here today is amazing."
Besides serving as a way to bring awareness about motorcycle safety, the day also included a slow drag race and a best-looking motorcycle competition.
Spc. Dustin Turley, a Barnsdall, Okla., native serving with the 1st BCT, 1ST AD, won the event's "slow-drag race." He used the day to network and look for ways to improve his bike riding.
"I wish we can do this three or four times a year because I've met a lot of people here today that I'm going to ride with again later; its good networking," Turley said.
Turley rode his Honda slow enough to finish last among the other riders to win the slow-drag race. The slow-drag race required each rider to ride as slow as they can without putting their feet down. The rider who finished the course last won the event. Turley said he has competed in slow-drag races before.
In addition to practice and education, Turley said he used the Fort Bliss Motorcycle Safety ride to check out the bikes other Soldiers were riding and to give support to other riders.
"From a safety standpoint, it gives a chance for the military community to support each other," said Turley, who started riding dirt bikes when he was seven, about 20 years ago.
Other event winners included Sacramento native Staff Sgt. Dwayne Williams, 5th Armored Brigade, 1st Army West. Williams won the best-looking bike competition in the sport-bike category for the third straight year. Eddie Keys, an Army civilian employee, won the touring bike category, and Melvin Prunty, a retired sergeant first class, won the custom bike category.