FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Sunshine, clear blue skies and — thunder — not from the sky but from the thunderous roar of 53 motorcycles traveling together Friday during the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood Thunder in the Fort motorcycle ride and rally, held to draw attention to motorcycle safety and awareness.
Installation, brigade and battalion motorcycle mentors planned the hour-long ride around post. They started at the Main Post Chapel, rode through the cantonment area, around the airport, down by the Big Piney River and back to the chapel. There, they had a motorcycle safety presentation, bike show and contest, and riding events, like a slow race and box test. A slow race tests the riders’ stability skills because the last one across the finish line wins. The box test is meant to teach riders the ability to make slow, tight turns on a motorcycle without putting their foot down or stopping.
“We have events like this to promote safe riding habits, build comradery and mentor riders,” said Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Ornot, post motorcycle mentor. “It is important to us because we want our riders to be well informed. For this event, we had the Missouri Motorcycle Safety Foundation provide a class that showed various types of riding jackets consisting of various materials and discussed how they held up being drug as if they were in a motorcycle accident.”
Ornot said events like this also allow more seasoned riders to pass along what they have learned to newer riders.
“I did see and hear quite a bit of people discussing their riding techniques and methods, along with routes they have taken and places to go,” Ornot said.
Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood Command Sgt. Maj. Jorge Arzabala spoke to the riders before they took off.
“There is no better day than being out on our motorcycles,” Arzabala said.
He noted that everybody was wearing the correct personal protective equipment, “and doing your checks like you are supposed to.” He encouraged riders to always practice the proper way of riding —on and off-post.
“As much as we are going to enjoy being out here working on motorcycle safety, we need to make sure that we are sharing our safety knowledge with others all the time. Not only should we practice safe riding here, but always – that is the Army standard,” he said.
Arzabala told the group a personal story of why safety is so important to him. He said when he was a brigade command sergeant major one of his Soldiers was killed in a motorcycle wreck.
“A month after I took over, there was a motorcycle fatality,” Arzabala said. “Today is about spreading knowledge to make sure this doesn’t happen.”
He said at the end of the day the worst part of the experience was the anguish the Soldier’s family was left with.
According to Craig Reeves, Army Traffic Safety Program monitor for the Garrison Safety Office, military members who are thinking about riding a motorcycle must take the Basic Rider Course first.
The next step to being eligible to ride on post is to take the Advanced Rider Course within their first year of riding.
For more information on the Army Traffic Safety Training Program, call the Garrison Safety Office at 573.596.0116.
More photos from Fort Leonard Wood’s Thunder in the Fort event are available to view and download on the Fort Leonard Wood Flickr page.