FORT BRAGG, N.C. – The U.S. Army Reserve Command Motorcycle Mentorship Program celebrated its second annual Blessing of the Bikes program March 15 with a safety program and an organized ride from Fort Bragg, N.C., to the famed Pinehurst No. 2 golf course for lunch and fellowship.
The program marks the beginning of motorcycle riding season as the weather begins to warm up here in the North Carolina Sand Hills region. With the warmer temperatures, more and more soldiers and family members will pull out their motorcycles for a weekend on the highways and by-ways to enjoy the fresh air, scenery, and freedom of the road.
Unfortunately, that freedom often comes at a terrible price.
According to information provided by the U.S. Army Reserve Command Safety Office, since FY2010, there have been 23 motorcycle fatalities across the Army Reserve. From these numbers, 31 percent and 26 percent of all Army Reserve vehicular accidents involved motorcycles in FY2010 and FY2011 respectively. Through a relatively new rider program, it is hoped the downward trend continues – but there is room for improvement.
“The point of motorcycle mentorship is to bring us all back together to do things according to the standards,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Thomas Baker, USARC Safety officer.
Baker said that age and rank do not really matter in order to have a successful mentorship program. Experience is what matters most.
“A motorcycle mentorship program places the responsibility on these more experienced riders to teach the inexperienced riders,” he said. “The age really doesn’t matter or even the rank structure. The ultimate goal is that we will save some lives.”
Army Reserve Sgt. 1st Class Robert Correa, started the MMP shortly after arriving at Fort Bragg last spring with that same goal in mind – saving lives.
“It’s a small, ceremonial way to start off the riding year safely,” Correa said.
Correa said the 86 mile round trip from Fort Bragg to Pinehurst provides the mentoring opportunities so important to group rides such as safety, alignment, and hazard avoidance.
It also provides the opportunity to promote camaraderie, networking, and esprit de corps, he said.
In addition to USARC and U.S. Army Forces Command riders, this year’s group included members of the 82nd Airborne Division.
The 20-plus riders made their way past the rugged pine tree ranges of Fort Bragg to Pinehurst No. 2, a picturesque golf course that hosted two previous U.S. Open tournaments in 1999 and 2005. Pinehurst will host the 2014 U.S. Open and the U.S. Women’s Open in consecutive weekends.
While the setting at Pinehurst was serene and peaceful, it didn’t fall short of the ultimate goal of the mentorship program.
“The Army is losing far too many soldiers to motorcycle accidents,” said Lt. Col. John Bates, USARC command group.
Promoting safety and reminding riders of the safety rules is key to a successful program, Bates said.
“Number one, it protects our riders, and number two, it protects our Army,” he said.