By CPT Eileen HernandezSeptember 5, 2013
Fort Leavenworth, Kan.-The sounds of revving engines filled the morning air on Fort Leavenworth as Mission Command Training Program Soldiers suited up to ride on Aug. 27. Sports bikes, cruisers and a three-wheeled bike all decked out in leather and chrome showed up to take a unit ride down to Shawnee Mission, Kan.
"The ride is designed to promote morale and bike safety," said Command Sgt. Major Gregory Nowak, Mission Command Training Program. Allparticipants inspected their personal protective gear and bikes for any deficiencies.
The MCTP motorcycle pack was made up of both old and new riders. Some have been riding for years, while others have only been riding for a few months.
"I feel that I am a junior rider, as I have about 7500 miles under my belt. I try to learn from the more senior riders in the unit when I can," said Sgt. Jason Coombs, a military intelligence noncommissioned officer with Mission Command Training Program.
Regardless of prior riding experience it is mandatory for all active duty military personnel to take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's Basic Rider Course if they are motorcycle riders and to recertify every three years with one of two advance courses currently offered on post.
"I really enjoyed the Basic Rider Course," said Maj. Kevin Morgan, assistant operations officer, Mission Command Training Program. "It was a small course of 5-6 people and it was designed to teach people who have never even been on a motorcycle before. I am new to riding and I really enjoy it."
"The best thing that drivers can do is to be observant while driving," said Coombs. If they see a motorcyclist, they should treat his vehicle as another car. The main thing is giving them the courtesy that you would give fellow drivers. Many accidents happen because a driver failed to see a motorcyclist."
"It's important to have contingency plans for motorcycle convoys," said Nowak during a safety brief. "An experienced rider in the front who knows the route is critical and a trail vehicle with a trailer that can collect a broken down bike is standard on large rides."
"I have my cell phone set so it vibrates differently for different callers," said Lt. Col. Kurt Nielson, a seasoned rider. "It signals me without having to look at my phone as to who is calling and if it's urgent for me to pull over safely and return a call immediately or if it can wait until the ride it over."
The group also organized themselves in a formation for riding purposes. "You want to make sure you have about 2 car lengths of space of distance between riders," said Lt. Col. Cliff Cribb, operations officer, Operations Group Foxtrot, Mission Command Training Program. "You don't want to get separated by cars while on the road. Staying in a tight formation is safest while riding in a motorcycle convoy."
Safety and motorcycles seemed to go hand in hand among the group. Prior to rolling out for a ride down to Shawnee Mission, Kan., the group built on Command Sgt. Major Nowak's comments by sharing tactics, techniques and procedures for safety and comfort during rides developed over years of experience and many miles.