By Ms. Kate Mansell (Leonard Wood)September 25, 2014
More than 100 riders representing more than six units from Fort Leonard Wood participated in the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence Post Motorcycle Mentorship Ride on Friday. Active-duty military and Family members were encouraged to participate in the event, also known as the Thunder Run, which focused on motorcycle safety and camaraderie.
"The whole purpose of this is to check your bike for safety. They check your tires, credentials, blinkers and brake lights to make sure everything is working and safe," said Staff Sgt. Martin Davy, Medical Department Activity, who has been riding for nine years. "My tire (pressure) was low, and I would have never known it was low. I'm just a beginner, even though I have been riding since 2005."
Motorcyclists were led through a 127-mile course winding through the local towns of Waynesville, Richland, Camdenton, Osage Beach, Iberia and Crocker.
"The route encompasses straight-line highway miles, curves and a lot of obstacles to help train novice riders to ride in a group and do it safely," said Sgt. Maj. Phillip Pennington, 3rd Chemical Brigade, who helped assist with planning the event.
All levels of riders were able to use and improve their skills through the diverse route that was selected to help them avoid injuries.
"The biggest problem we are seeing is speed, of course, and inexperienced riders not knowing how to go around corners," said Sgt. 1st Class Frank Lambert, 1st Engineering Brigade, coordinator of the Thunder Run.
Participants were divided into smaller groups for the event, which were lead by the post's most experienced riders for mentorship and safety.
Motorcyclists in the Thunder Run had the opportunity to participate in a large group ride requiring additional safety precautions for riders.
"The big differences between riding alone and riding in a large group are really paying attention to hand signals and being able to watch and check out your surroundings," Lambert said.
Safety precautions paid off after the Thunder Run came to an end.
"The ride went off without a hitch, and all of the riders returned safely to the USO," he said.
Fort Leonard Wood's USO provided refreshments to riders upon their return to post.
"I think it's a good idea for cohesion and morale, just to do something fun together," said Staff Sgt. Jennifer Santiago, 58th Transportation Battalion.
Event coordinators plan to make the mentorship ride a biannual event. The next post Thunder Ride is expected to take place in the spring of 2015.