WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — The thumping of big twins and snarling of high-revving sport bikes filled the air of the Exchange parking lot as more than 300 motorcycle enthusiasts rolled into to learn about staying safe this riding season during Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s Motorcycle Safety Day May 11.
Riders were greeted with as much juice and coffee as they could drink, along with a wide assortment of bagels and pastries, all courtesy of Wright-Patterson’s Chaplains Office. From there, lectures focused on highway hypnosis, seeing and being seen, stunting and risky behavior as well as riding in different environments educating attendees on topics they may have forgotten since the weather turned cold last year.
“I think it re-instills the things we’re taught throughout motorcycle safety courses and all the training that we receive,” said Staff Sgt. Zach K Herick, 88th Air Base Wing Safety Office occupational safety specialist, lead for Motorcycle Safety Day and motorcycle rider. “Hopefully, we get out here and talk with other people and ultimately get a better understanding of what it means to ride safe and stay safe.”
Guest speakers Chief Master Sgt. Jeff Richards, a founding member of the Green Knights International Military Motorcycle Club, and Dr. Ray Ochs, Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s vice president of training systems and lead developer of the MSF Basic RiderCourse, added their considerable experience to the event.
After the morning’s training, rider coaches from the Green Knights Chapter 32 at WPAFB, Wright Wriders and others walked attendees through motorcycle safety inspections before setting off on an optional 38-mile group ride through several local areas highlighting the various road conditions riders will face, such as multi-lane, two-way, city and rural roads.
“It was a nice route and it was great having the support of the local sheriff departments and police departments who came out and blocked the roads for us,” said Capt. John P.K. Walton, a developmental engineer at the Air Force Research Laboratory who’s ridden motorcycles for 14 years. “At one point, we got to a big hill and I could see nothing but bikes. Then, as we crested the hill, I looked in my mirror and all I could see were bikes. It was a good turnout.”
The event was designated an alternate duty location by the 88 Air Base Wing commander and met the annual pre-season brief requirement for military members. Civilian riders were highly encouraged to attend, with many taking advantage of the training.
“I think it’s a great opportunity, especially being a civilian,” said Thomas Stephenson, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Configuration and Data manager. Stephenson began riding motorcycles at age 16 but has been on and off motorcycles ever since then. He recently purchased a new motorcycle after a six-year hiatus and said he wanted to refresh his memory on safety. “It’s nice that organizations on base let us do this and I think for the base to sponsor something like this is awesome. I think it shows that they really care for the people.”
Food trucks, vendors and a slow ride contest made up lunchtime activities at the event. The Green Knights put on a slow ride contest to test riders’ ability to balance by challenging them to travel 60 feet as slowly as possible without putting their feet down, something much easier said than done as the gyroscopic forces of a fast-spinning motorcycle wheel make it relatively easy to stay upright, but slow spinning wheels don’t generate the force. First place went to Kavon Lackey, a first lieutenant from the National Air and Space Intelligence Center, with a time of 52.64 seconds. Lackey won a $50 gift card to a local eatery for his riding prowess.
Riders interested in pursuing additional motorcycle safety training or mentorship opportunities should contact the Safety Office at 904-0888.