By Amy Drummond, Fort Leavenworth LampOctober 28, 2010
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (Oct. 28, 2010) - Safety checks, history lessons and fun might not normally be associated with one another, but those were the words used to promote and describe the 15th Military Police Internment and Resettlement Brigade Motorcycle Mentorship Program Autumn Ride Oct. 22.
Motorcycle mentors stress the importance of having fun and being safe. The ride encompassed all types of riding - group, urban, country and staggered.
More than 40 riders, including Soldiers, civilians, family members and retirees, took the day off of work and participated in the 162-mile trip. The day started at 9 a.m. at the Fort Leavenworth Post Exchange parking lot where participating riders had their bikes inspected by mentors using the T-CLOCS pre-ride checklist.
T-CLOCS stands for tires and wheels, cables and controls, lights, oil and fluids, chassis, and sidestand or kickstand. The checklist is an inspection that encompasses all aspects of the bike, something riders must do twice a year. According to Master Sgt. Michael Bennet, one of the ride's organizers, this checklist forces Soldiers to look at all the things on his or her bike that they might not normally look at. After the inspections riders received a free reflective T-shirt from Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation and participated in a free safety equipment raffle.
Following the raffles and safety briefs, local motorcyclists rode to Worth Harley-Davidson of Kansas City, Mo., where there were more raffles and lunch waiting for them. The group then proceeded to the Battle of Lexington State Historic Site for a history lesson. From there they rode back to the PX parking lot for more raffles and food.
In 2005, a message from the chief of staff of the Army said the Army was losing too many Soldiers to accidents and unsafe motorcycle practices. This message marked the beginning of the Army's motorcycle mentorship program.
"The program is not rank induced in any way, we have E-4s out here that have been riding for 25 years; we have E-8s that have been riding for a year. It's about mentors being mentors, guys that have been riding who have a long history and a lot of knowledge of riding, sharing that experience with younger and less knowledgeable riders," Bennet said. "We try as a group to take care of each other, Soldiers taking care of Soldiers, so we have safe or as safe as possible riding in an inherently dangerous activity."
Even seasoned rider Chappy Denton, who has been riding for 36 years, admitted that he is not an expert.
"We all pick up bad habits," Denton said. "The mentorship program is about improving and getting rid of those habits."
Anne Saults, the Riders Edge program manager from Worth Harley-Davidson, wants Soldiers and other riders to know there are places out there that they can channel their adrenaline.
"The street is not the place to be going at 120 mph down the road," Saults said.
The mentors and course providers want riders to find camaraderie out there on the road, not just that need for speed.
Many riders, including Saults, said there is nothing better than being in a group ride. The camaraderie and the friendships developed during these rides can last a lifetime, stated several of the riders.
Bennet plans to continue motorcycle mentorship meetings throughout the off-season, and said he hopes to have a bigger and better season-opening ride in the spring with the help of the community relationships forged during this ride.
"We are all mentors, we all need to be buddies to each other and we can get a lot of brotherhood and a lot of love riding in a group," Bennet said.
More information about the Army motorcycle mentorship program and the T-CLOCS pre-ride checklist can be found at https://safety.army.mil/mmmp/.