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By Barbara Gersna
1st Theater Sustainment Command
The 1st Theater Sustainment Command’s Motorcycle Mentorship Program is gearing up now that the weather is getting warmer.
Experienced mentors are eager to share their knowledge and the program builds safe riding practices and esprit de corps among unit members.
Command Sgt. Maj. Sherman Waters, senior enlisted advisor, Special Troops Battalion, 1st TSC, said, “If you’re a biker in 1st TSC, you should be in the Motorcycle Mentorship Program.” Waters is a member of the MMP, and wants to ensure that all riders have access to all of the safety information shared in the group.
Riding a motorcycle can be a fun and enjoyable experience, but it is not without its hazards. New riders are the most at risk, which is why the mentorship program is so important. It allows new riders to learn and gain experience with the oversight and mentorship of experienced riders.
All Soldiers who are interested in riding or thinking about buying a motorcycle should attend a meeting or talk with one of the experienced riders in the unit. They can provide tons of guidance. Their years of biking experience can help newcomers purchase the right safety equipment, motorcycle, and learn how to handle a variety of road scenarios.
Waters explained that an experienced rider can, “help you decide what kind of motorcycle to purchase.” He recommend that you try out different bikes to find out what fits you.
Mentor and Program Organizer Sgt. 1st Class Justin D. Rodden, force generation NCO, 1st TSC, stressed that safety is one of the most important topics reviewed by the group. “It is the commander’s policy that we wear approved personal protective gear at all times both on and off post,” he said.
Both Soldiers and Department of Defense civilian employees are required to wear protective gear on and off post while riding. Other agency personnel, contractors and visitors on any DoD installation are also required to wear the proper safety equipment while riding on post.
Helmets are required and must meet the U.S. Department of Transportation standards and the face strap must be snapped. Full face helmets offer the best protection. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that helmets reduce the likelihood of death in a crash by 37 percent and brain injury by 67 percent.
One member of the MMP shared an instance where he was riding without a full-face helmet and ended up smashing his face and losing teeth. He said that you don’t appreciate a full-face helmet until you wish you were wearing one.
A windshield alone isn’t enough to protect your eyes. Impact or shatter-resistant face shields, goggles or wraparound glasses that meet American National Standards Institute Z87.1 are also required. Tinted lenses may be worn during the day, but clear lenses are required for night driving.
Raindrops can hurt when riding, and wearing the full face shield will protect you. Rodden also recommends wearing a neck gator for protection from bugs that can leave welts hitting your neck while riding.
A long-sleeved shirt or jacket, long pants, and full-fingered gloves or mittens are required. Leather or abrasion-resistant fabric offer the most protection. Pants should provide the same amount of protection as the jacket. One MMP member shared that even though they meet the requirement, Army physical training pants will melt if they touch the exhaust pipe.
Riders are also required to wear a brightly colored outer, upper garment during the day and a reflective upper garment at night. High-visibility vests made with bright colors work best. Vests should be worn over the jacket.
Over-the-ankle footwear is also required. It should be made of sturdy leather and have a good low-heeled, oil-resistant sole to reduce slipping. Army boots meet the requirement.
MMP member Spc. Jacob McGee, maintenance mechanic, 1st TSC, shared, “Steel toe boots aren’t good for riding, because they can interfere with shifting.”
McGee also shared other tips with the group. He said that just as we do in the Army, “We should ride with a buddy.”
Others added that if you don’t ride with a buddy, at least make a plan detailing where and when you’re riding. Share your route with at least one other person. There are even applications you can download on your phone that can alert the police if you have an impact.
Rodden shared more about safety, “Intersections are the most dangerous places on the road for riders, and we are just as liable for accidents as cars,” he said.
McGee shared that adding a Go-Pro or other recording device to your helmet can be beneficial in case you do have an accident. “My Go-Pro was helpful when someone hit me,” he said.
Members of MMP are planning their first group ride on June 11. They hope to link up with other veteran and Soldier groups for future rides.
“Charity is a big part of motorcycle culture,” Rodden added. He encouraged members to share information about rides, runs, and rallies. He hopes they can join in on some in the area.
1st TSC Soldiers and civilian employees can contact Rodden at Justin.firstname.lastname@example.org if they are interested in joining the MMP or want to discuss anything related to motorcycles.
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