Brig. Gen. Patrick R. Michaelis, Fort Jackson commanding general, prepares to leave Darby Field

Wednesday morning for a 40-mile trip outside of the installation. The ride followed a motorcycle safety briefing intended to connect experienced and novice riders to discuss highway safety.
Brig. Gen. Patrick R. Michaelis, Fort Jackson commanding general, prepares to leave Darby Field

Wednesday morning for a 40-mile trip outside of the installation. The ride followed a motorcycle safety briefing intended to connect experienced and novice riders to discuss highway safety. (Photo Credit: Wallace McBride)
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Dozens of motorcycle enthusiasts gathered Tuesday morning at Darby Field for the annual Victory Thunder rally, an event designed to connect experienced and novice riders to discuss highway safety.

Expect those discussions to take place more often in the coming year, though, as the installation places a greater emphasis on motorcycle safety.

“I came here about four months ago,” said Brig. Gen. Patrick R. Michaelis, Fort Jackson commanding general. “On the first month we all gathered as motorcycle riders because we’d had a rash of incidents on this post. We re-centered ourselves to what it means to be a defensive driver – to enjoy what you do as a motorcyclist, but to pay attention to what’s happening around us.”

Michaelis said he learned to ride as a high school student in Panama, where the culture encouraged offensive, not defensive, driving.

“That’s not the way we want to drive as motorcyclists,” he said.

Prior to the ride, motorcyclists were briefed on the kinds of roads and obstacles to expect along the route. Each rider’s motorcycle was also inspected before embarking on a 40-mile trip out Gate 5. and back onto post through Gate 1.

“We're getting the motorcycle community together, taking the opportunity to make sure that everyone who brought a bike has a good, functioning bike that has all of its safety features,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Boucher, 193rd Infantry Brigade, who helped manage this week’s rally.

Victory Thunder has traditionally been an annual event at Fort Jackson, but Boucher said it will likely happen twice each year in the future.