NEWS | March 19, 2013

Motorcyclist prepare for safe riding season

By Airman 1st Class Jared Trimarchi Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

More than 200 Airmen, Sailors, Soldiers, civilians and dependents from Joint Base Charleston participated in the 2013 JB Charleston Motorcycle Safety Rodeo March 15, 2013, throughout the Lowcountry.

The safety event was hosted by the 628th Air Base Wing Safety Office and the Green Knights Military Motorcycle Club, a non-profit organization for military and Department of Defense motorcyclists which has more than 100 chapters around the world.

The day started with a motorcycle safety brief at the Air Base Theater, and included a mentorship ride throughout Charleston before ending at the North Charleston Coliseum, where participants attended the Eighth Annual Palmetto Police Motorcycle Rodeo.

"Every time you get on a motorcycle, you'll learn something new," said Chief Petty Officer Richard Butler, a Navy Nuclear Power Training Unit repair department mechanic and Chapter 37 Green Knights' sergeant-at-arms. "Events like this are held every year to promote safe riding and build on the experience levels of all riders, whether they are new to riding or have been riding for years."

The topics discussed during the briefing included personal protective equipment, training requirements, South Carolina licensing, local riding conditions, mishap reports, risk management and mentorship. Applications to join the Green Knights were also accepted.

"The briefing was designed to be informative and address the seriousness of improperly handling a motorcycle," Butler said. "We want to make sure our riders are informed about the dangers of riding. Riding a motorcycle poses higher risks than driving a car. The more experienced a rider is and the more he knows about safe riding, the lower the risks."

Colonel Richard McComb, Joint Base Charleston commander, Col. Albert Miller, 437th Airlift Wing vice commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Earl Hannon, 628th ABW command chief, attended the Rodeo and presented awards to riders during the event. The four categories included best custom bike, best sports bike, best cruiser and commander's choice for best bike.

Before the group ride, Father Gildardo Garcia, a 628th ABW chaplain, blessed the bikes and prayed for the safety of the group.

Ali Small, wife of Senior Airman Mallory Small of the 437th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, and a first time JB Charleston Motorcycle Rodeo participant said, "The group ride was the best part of the Rodeo. It is always a blast to ride in a group setting. I don't get to ride in groups too often, so I learned some fundamentals on group riding, such as the signals riders use to communicate with one another."

During the Palmetto Police Motorcycle Rodeo ride, team Charleston members were greeted by two Charleston County deputy sheriffs who discussed motorcycle handling skills, techniques, tips, safety and motorcycle laws. More than 25 deputy sheriffs from South Carolina, Georgia and Florida completed obstacle courses designed to tests the limits of a motorcycle and the handling skills of the operators.

"The deputies who ride motorcycles are required to train many hours a week on their cruisers," Butler said. "They are experts on two wheels and we learned from watching them run through the obstacles. They make it look easy, but it's not. The techniques they learn on the course can help save their life out on the road."

Every year, the armed forces suffer from service member fatalities due to motorcycle accidents.

"Knowing that fellow service members have been killed in motorcycle accidents really puts safe riding into perspective," said Senior Airman Aaron Glover, 437th AMXS crew chief. "Every time I get ready to ride, I make sure I'm being as safe as possible. That means always wearing my protective gear, never riding while being tired and knowing one drink can be one too many on a motorcycle."

"This safety event was intended to be informative and entertaining," Butler said. "Riders get more experience from going out on their bikes. Hopefully we can lower the number of mishaps, and riders will take the most out of this event by remembering to always put safety first."

For more information or to join the Green Knights, contact info@gkmmc37.com.