News: Knight’s Brigade rides safe with Motorcycle Mentorship Program
Story by Staff Sgt. April Tessmer
BAUMHOLDER, Germany – Soldiers from the 16th Sustainment Brigade, 21st Theater Sustainment Command conducted comprehensive motorcycle training as part of a Motorcycle Mentorship Program held at Smith barracks June 12.
“I started this program out of concern for the safety of the riders here in Baumholder,” said Chief Warrant Officer Arnaldo Guzman, a native of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, and a 16th SB information services technician. “I saw not only an opportunity but a need to implement a program that shares knowledge and experience with other riders.”
According to the U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center, indiscipline is the greatest threat to Army motorcycle riders. Combinations of speeding, alcohol use, training deficiencies and lack of personal protective equipment are cited in more than half of the fatalities reported this fiscal year.
The spectrum of the size and type of bikes enrolled in the Motorcycle Mentorship Program held at Smith Barracks range from a 650cc Kawasaki to a 1250cc Harley Davidson. Like the diversity of bikes, the background and experience of each rider varies as everyone ends up contributing to or taking something from the training.
“Every ride is a new learning experience; you never know what you’ll encounter here in Germany,” said Guzman. “The environment is much different than what most riders have encountered back in the states."
“Watching out for other vehicles on the road is not the only safety issue that riders here in Germany face,” explained the 12-year veteran rider. “Most riders are not accustomed to the rapid pace of traffic on the Autobahn. Here, you can easily and legally exceed and maintain speeds of more than 90 miles per hour.”
Other unique hazards here in Germany include narrow streets, coupled with wildlife unexpectedly entering high traffic roads during peak hours. Slow and cautious riding is encouraged as well as riding with groups. The program provides not only the shared forum of past experiences from seasoned riders, but also fulfills a Department of Defense mandate.
“Additional training is required for all U.S. service members who are licensed motorcycle riders, than what is required for a normal civilian rider back in the states or even a German national,” said Chief Warrant Officer Jason P. Wright, the 16th SB MMP manager, who calls San Bernadino, California, home. “That’s where the Motorcycle Safety Foundation basic and experienced rider instruction portion of the MMP comes into play”.
The MMP training began with an overall inspection of the motorcycle and rider. The three-minute motorcycle pre-check, referred to as the “T-CLOCS,” ensures that the tires, controls, lights, oil, chassis and stands are all in proper working order prior to taking off. The rider is also examined to verify that the personal protective equipment, or “PPE,” properly fits and is in good condition.
“I’ve witnessed many potentially fatal accidents that, thankfully, were mitigated and prevented by taking the extra ‘three minutes’ to check a few moving parts”, said Staff Sgt. Sean Davis, a 16th SB ammunition noncommissioned officer in charge and a native of Atlanta. “I’ve also learned through my own personal experience that wearing the particular color of neon yellow with reflective items works the best for attaining visibility in any environment”.
The next task of the training was to safely negotiate the course lanes. The MMP in Baumholder is unique and packed full of additional training to accommodate not just the basic rider, but also the more experienced rider. The lanes included several tasks based on real-world scenarios to prepare riders for tight and rapid response maneuvering. The lanes were comprised of many supplementary tasks and routines such as figure-eights, quick stops, U-turns, sharp turns, swiveling between cones and running over obstacles.
“I really enjoy teaching the correct positioning of the rider’s head, hips and hands in and through curves. It’s easy to teach and an incredibly powerful tool,” said Davis. “By maintaining proper posture on the bike, you can decrease the risk of falls and injuries when making sharp turns”.
“Throttle control is another important aspect of riding,” added the 15-year sport bike riding veteran.“It’s pertinent to any riding environment because the loss of control is the quickest way to drop your bike.”
The training concluded with a scenic group ride into the local area, which combined routes on the Autobahn, rural and city roads as well as constructive feedback from the group and an after action review. The mentors of the program continuously refer to the tools and curriculum located at https://safety.army.mil to strengthen and build up one’s knowledge base.
Leaders, like Col. John M. Broomhead, the 16th SB deputy commander, stress that even though the MMP training is scheduled monthly during the most common riding months from May through October, like all safety, it’s a 24-7 commitment. “Understand your limits and don’t exceed them when riding,” the Castlerock, Washington, native, said to the riders in attendance.”Seek additional training to improve your skills.”
The MMP has seen an enormous turn-out since last month, doubling the number of attendees. Much of the growth is a result of the support of the local commands, as well as the opportunity to unite with other riders in a safe atmosphere.
“The training is not supposed to be just a mandatory event,” said Guzman, “but a fun and enjoyable way to achieve invaluable knowledge from various types of experienced riders.”
Date Posted:06.23.2014 11:53
Location:BAUMHOLDER, RP, DE
Hometown:ATLANTA, GA, US
Hometown:CASTLE ROCK, WA, US
Hometown:SAN BERNARDINO, CA, US