JOE FOSS FIELD, S.D. --
The 114th Fighter Wing Safety Office recently held their annual motorcycle training and mentorship ride for members of the unit at Joe Foss Field, S.D.
Members of the South Dakota Air National Guard who own and ride a motorcycle on base are required to take the annual refresher training. In addition, prior to taking the training, riders must have passed the South Dakota Safety Council basic rider training course.
Chief Master Sgt. Troy Erlandson, 114th Fighter Wing occupation safety manager, is the motorcycle safety representative (MSR) on base. It is his responsibility to coordinate, allocate and oversee the Air Force directed criteria for members that operate motorcycles on base. He arranged for the registration and scheduling of the Basic Rider Course and also arranged the Unit Mentorship Ride.
“The focus is to start the motorcycle riding season out right and safe. We are very fortunate to have instructors volunteer their time to coordinate and lead the rides as well as the wing commander allowing us to promote the program.” said Erlandson.
The refresher training goes over the rules for military members about driving on base, a reminder of being a defensive driver, and driving within the rider’s limits.
After the training, Airmen grabbed their helmets, gloves, and riding jackets; mounted their motorcycles, and headed out for the mentorship ride.
The mentorship ride was led by experienced riders to give the less experienced riders tips. Master Sgt. Rick Vandenhoek, 114th Fighter Wing self-assessment monitor, is one of the mentors and had plenty of experience since he has been riding since childhood.
“Mentorship gives us a chance to talk about and refresh ourselves about riding. Both new and experienced riders can learn from each other by sharing experiences and tips on how to handle certain situations.” said Vandenhoek.
Prior to departing for the mentorship ride, motorcycles are inspected by the mentors who then give riders feedback on what they might need to address on their motorcycles. This also gives riders time to admire each other’s motorcycles and talk to each other about their riding experiences and stories.
The mentorship ride offered a mix of street riding, rural road riding, and even some freeway riding. There were pre-planned periodic stops to make sure all the bikes were working properly and members could offer feedback and ask questions.
The program was started three years ago in-conjunction with the commanders pre-season motorcycle brief in order to actually practice motorcycle safety on the open road.
“This is a pro-active wing level program that won't necessarily eliminate future accidents or deaths, but will provide refresher training and awareness to all riders each year.” said Erlandson.