SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - More than 250 Soldiers gathered at Sills Field, here, for the first 25th Infantry Division-level organized motorcycle ride, May 20.

The ride, known as "Pacific Thunder," invited qualified "Tropic Lightning" motorcyclists to gather for a group ride of nearly 80 miles, beginning at Schofield Barracks. Riders began their journey by traveling north through the North Shore before following the coast back toward southern Oahu.

Last year, the state of Hawaii Department of Transportation, in a proclamation signed by Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle, designated May as Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month and urged citizen motorists and motorcyclists to remember the importance of motorcycle safety and sharing the road.

"Motorcycle riding is an inherently dangerous activity due to the many risks and conditions that can cause one to get into a wreck," said Maj. Mark Anders, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 25th Inf. Div., one of the organizers for the event. "Through proper training and education and use of personal protective equipment, we've worked hard to mitigate these risks."

All riders participating in the event were required to have completed Division-mandated motorcycle safety training and pass routine inspections prior to being able to actually ride on-post. To better ensure the safety and well-being of Soldiers, Soldiers within the division are also encouraged to participate in the motorcycle mentorship program.

"Unit mentorship programs work hard to introduce new riders to more experienced riders in an attempt to share knowledge and experiences to continue to foster safe-riding techniques," said Anders.

Mentors like Sgt. Anthony Roberts, 3rd Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Inf. Div., set aside time to assist riders, both veterans and newcomers, with tips and advice for everyday riding.

"To be recognized as a mentor, riders need to complete a coach course in addition to the safety course," said Roberts, a 5-year rider and a battalion motorcycle mentor. "On the weekends and my own personal time, I like to teach new riders step-by-step what they need to know, as well as street safety tips."

For Sgt. Johnny Lunn, 3/7 FA, 3 BCT, safety is among the most important factors to consider before taking to the road on a two-wheeled vehicle.

"On a bike you have to be defensive because you have to protect yourself in ways you might not need to when driving a car," said Lunn. "The best defense you have for yourself when riding a motorcycle is safety."

"It's not the bikes themselves that get the riders into trouble, it's the riders," said Roberts. "Promoting motorcycle safety shows the Army as a whole that motorcycles can be safe if the rider takes the responsibility to be safe."

Another important theme for Motorcycle Safety Month, Pacific Thunder riders were encouraged to "share the road" and extend courtesy to drivers at all times to promote awareness of motorcycle safety.

"Large formations of motorcycles moving down the road during this event will remind car and truck drivers that there are also two-wheeled vehicles out there entitled to those same roads," Anders said.

Sharing the road with motorists on Oahu, these formations of Soldiers completed the first Pacific Thunder on time and safely.

"Soldiers of all skill levels benefitted from the ride and many new riders rode with a large group for the first time," said Anders.

Pacific Thunder is planned to be a quarterly event exclusive to the Soldiers of the 25th Inf. Div. which will continue the mission of creating a safer riding environment for motorcyclists on Oahu year-round.

"The good example of courteous and safe riding demonstrated by each of the 25th ID motorcycle riders will further promote a positive image of motorcycle riders in the eyes of those who do not normally ride or encounter motorcycles," said Anders.

Page last updated Fri May 21st, 2010 at 22:20