by Shameka D. Edwards
4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office
About 25 Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division and 13 Colorado Patriot Guard Riders participated in the battalion’s first motorcycle mentorship ride to Cripple Creek Thursday.
“We have a lot of Soldiers that don’t know how dangerous motorcycle riding can be,” said
Lt. Col. Grady S. Taylor, battalion commander.
The battalion paired junior riders with four or less years of riding experience with senior riders, said Sgt. Maj. Tony Plair, the battalion S-3 noncommissioned officer in charge.
Plair, along with Capt.
Phillip Borden, battalion safety officer, and Sgt. 1st Class Maurice Turner, battalion operations sergeant, planned the ride.
The day started with Soldiers conducting preventive maintenance checks and services of all the motorcycles, and checking that all riders had proper personal protection equipment, up-to-date licenses, insurance and registration.
After the bikes were thoroughly checked, all riders gathered in the battalion’s conference room for a safety briefing.
During the briefing Taylor spoke of how the ride was to help build motorcycle safety awareness.
“It’s not just free time to ride a bike, its training,” he said. “I take it seriously enough to take Soldiers out on a duty day; it’s just as important as any other training because it will save lives.”
After the briefing the riders headed out to begin the ride. As they arrived at Cripple Creek, they encountered rain and hail. Once the riders arrived back at Fort Carson, Plair conducted an after-action review to go over the positive and negative aspects of the ride.
The riders agreed that the biggest positive was that no one went down.
“The mentorship ride is incredibly important. It helps to keep guys from getting hurt doing something stupid. Motorcycles are fun but not if you’re being stupid,” said Capt. D. Barry Donaldson, Headquarters and Headquarters Company assistant S-3.
Donaldson, one of the senior riders, said he has been riding for about six years and had never participated in a group ride like this before.
1st Lt. Andrew Gerdes, a Company B platoon leader and a junior rider, said he had only been riding for about three months.
“I never rode on the interstate before and this is my first group ride,” he said.
Gerdes said that he has the gear that meets the Army standards but not his personal standards. He said he promised his parents that he would be safe while riding.
“I think that we should do more of these rides because it gets the guys together and builds camaraderie in the battalion,” said Sgt. Nathan Yancer, Company C.
The battalion has more than 40 riders. Safety standdowns, motorcycle safety counseling and encouraging junior riders to get with senior riders are some of the ways that the battalion is showing its commitment to motorcycle safety, Taylor said.