By Capt. Stephen Von JettMarch 29, 2017
FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- More than 30 motorcycle riders from 4th Military Information Support Group and 1st Special Forces Command converged on Gabriel Range, March 24, to brush up on safe riding techniques before rolling out en masse to Carthage, for a safety ride.
This year's ride was planned and organized by Christopher Black, 4th MISG safety officer. While not a rider himself, Black ensures program compliance for all of the Group and provided event support ranging from safety inspections to providing the trail vehicle in case of any break downs.
"Having riders enrolled in the program and fully qualified has had a significant impact on rider safety," Black said. "With 100 plus riders in the Group, we take opportunities like this to check everybody out and get back to basics."
Mark Martin, deputy safety director and motorcycle program manager for 1st Special Forces Command, was also on hand at the event as the senior rider-coach and led the group through inspections and a short refresher training prior to departure.
Under Martin's supervision, riders completed their T-CLOCS inspection, which stands for tires, controls, lights, oil, chassis and stands. It is a method endorsed by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, which provides a systematic inspection method similar to preventative maintenance checks and services used on military equipment.
While conducting inspections, Martin shouted out questions to the group about the process and basic safety information every rider should know. Most of the questions were answered with a common refrain shouted from the group, "Ask MOM!"
MOM is the Motorcycle Operator Manual. Much like mothers everywhere, MOM is there to help a rider be safe, remind riders to take care of themselves and their equipment, and answer questions a rider might have. While MOM can elucidate on the proper tension of a rider's motorcycle chain, it isn't going to help anyone find their shoes.
Once inspections were complete, riders navigated a short rider-skills-refresher course. This gave riders a chance to polish their skills in a safe environment and the rider-coaches an opportunity to evaluate the riders, providing insight and subtle corrections along the way.
Soldiers assigned to 4th MISG have been conducting mentorship rides like this one since 2010. This year's route is a relatively short 40 miles through rolling hills and pasture lands out to the Gilliam McConnell Airfield in Carthage, a stop for lunch on some local barbecue, and then back to Gabriel Range.
It was important to pick a route that new riders would be comfortable with while providing points of interest for the more experienced riders in the group, Black said.
For those interested in riding, Black recommended taking the basic rider course. The course provides a bike and helmet. Prospective riders are required to provide gloves, long sleeved shirt, pants, and boots. The course, ran by the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, provides an endorsement waiver for the practical driving exam upon completion -- something not offered by the Fort Bragg course. The waiver allows riders to be licensed after completion of the state written exam, without having to take the practical riding portion.
There are additional advanced training courses available including advanced street skills motorcycle mentorship training, which certifies graduates as rider-coaches. Those interested in riding are encouraged to contact their unit safety officers or motorcycle mentors.