Iron Brigade motorcyclist ride safely during safety ride
September 5, 2012
Approximately 50 'Iron Brigade' Soldiers went on a 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team Motorcycle Safety Ride, beginning at their East Fort Bliss-based headquarters building and finishing at El Paso's Ascarate Park, Aug. 30.
"The brigade safety ride is important because it helps to promote a safety mindset within the ranks of the brigade's motorcycle riders, as well as enforcing Army safety standards, while increasing camaraderie and esprit de corps; bottom line is it saves lives," said Sgt. James Lea, systems operations sergeant for the brigade Adam Cell, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Special Troops Battalion, 2-1 AD. "On Fort Bliss there have been three motorcycle rider deaths this fiscal year and in that same time 2-1 AD has had zero deaths."
With 43 motorcycle fatalities in the Army for fiscal year 2012 and soaring gas prices causing Soldiers to look for more fuel efficient modes of travel like motorcycles, the importance of motorcycle safety is now more relevant to Soldiers than ever before.
"The safety rides get to mix the different experience levels," CW2 Anthony Nelson, ammunition technician, Company A, 47th Brigade Support Battalion. "I have ridden 20 years and some of these riders are brand new, so it mixes our new riders in with the more experienced riders so they can learn how to ride; for instance breaking distance and what to watch for. Like the other day I slowed down when I saw a woman was driving with her knees and texting; some new riders might not know to look for that. As mentors, we get eyes on the riders and it allows us to gauge their experience level and also to share our knowledge," Nelson said.
"Some of the basic knowledge that we share with riders that are new to this area are things such as driving with extreme caution after fresh rain because the roads get very slick after rains," said Lea. "Also, when riding on Trans Mountain, watch for windy conditions because when the wind picks up it can blow you off the road and even blind you with the dust it picks up. So you should have goggles on you just in case the wind picks up," he said.
Even within the ride there are safety adjustments made in order to increase the safety of the riders.
"After watching the riders for the first leg of the trip we will then know who we need to further watch, coach or put on high risk," said Nelson. "Then you can figure where to put them in the formation."
In this particular safety ride, the riders were separated into three groups at the half-way point at a gas station parking lot in Fabens, Texas. From that point sailing to Ascarate Park was smooth.
"After the first half of the ride it was pretty nice when we got the chance to just sit back and cruise; it just made everything so enjoyable," said Spc. Nathan Cantrell, a Bradley Fighting Vehicle systems maintainer, Company A, 1st Battalion, 35th Armor Regiment, 2-1 AD.
The event was closed out with hot dogs, burgers, chips and soda at Ascarate Park. When the day is done, this and other safety rides are as much about motorcycle safety as they are about expanding and deepening the brotherhood shared by Soldiers by giving them an opportunity to share experiences during a shared-joy: motorcycling.