49th Wing Safety conducts motorcycle group mentorship ride

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Michelle Ferrari
  • 49th Wing

The 49th Wing hosted a mentorship ride this past Friday here to participate in a local bike ride throughout Ruidoso, Tularosa and Cloudcroft, New Mexico. Mentorship rides are a great opportunity for riders to unite, no matter the rank, and safely ride together. They also provide a fun environment for motorcycle enthusiasts to enjoy bike rides together throughout the local area.

“What is so empowering about riding a motorcycle is the freedom, the wind, the sunshine, the power of the bike responding to your inputs,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Juan Flores, 49th Wing chief of flight safety. “Military riders are held to a higher standard and it’s imperative we practice safety everytime we get on a motorcycle.”

As the summertime peaks in the state of New Mexico, an increasing number of civilian and military motorcycle riders are spotted sharing the roads. This may spark interest in beginners who are eager to learn how to ride. Due to their inherent risks, motorcycle safety must be prioritized within the military. Signing up for mentorship rides is a great way to meet like-minded riders.

“My biggest concern with non-licensed riders is when they are meeting up with someone more skilled in riding and trying to learn how to ride in a parking lot without the proper endorsement or training,” said Ivan Vallejo, 49th Wing Safety motorcycle program and occupational safety manager. “During the summer, it’s important for licensed motorcycle riders to remember that AFI 91-207 is required on and off duty regardless of the weather conditions and they must always use the proper protective equipment.”

Air Force Instruction 91-207 mandates motorcycle training responsibilities, stating that members track their training on an online platform and wear required PPE, which includes full-finger gloves, a long-sleeve shirt or jacket, long pants, eye protection, over-the-ankle boots, and a Department of Transportation-approved helmet.

Implementing strict maintenance protocols and performing regular inspections of motorcycles can prevent mechanical failures that may lead to accidents. The development and enforcement of clear safety policies, including the mandatory use of protective gear and adherence to speed limits, play a crucial role in cultivating and maintaining a culture of safety.

“Being a vigilant rider is often overlooked,” said Flores. “Choosing to take a motorcycle over a truck for the day requires the rider to be in the right state of mind and have the right attitude to ride. You don’t have steel and airbags protecting you, so you better be on your A-game.”

“Peer pressure is a factor of concern with new riders,” said Vallejo. “Trying to follow other riders at speeds they are not ready for or dangerous taking curves and going on routes prematurely can be detrimental. Such maneuvers should only be performed when they get a little more experience riding.”

To enhance motorcycle safety in the military, increasing the availability and accessibility of comprehensive safety training programs specifically tailored to military riders can significantly boost riding skills and awareness.

“The protocol to ride a motorcycle is very simple,” said Vallejo. “First, you notify your motorcycle safety representative and they guide you from the start to actual riding, then, there’s a one-on-one commander brief that is required before the individual will sign up for the motorcycle safety class, which is fully reimbursable for military personnel.”

Riding a motorcycle requires more skill than driving a car or truck. All riders should get to know their bike by reading the manual, taking the recommended safety course and know their own limits as well as the bike's limits.

“As a new rider just beginning, there are qualities you should look for in those you will share the road with,” said Vallejo. “You want to be able to trust the person you are riding with who follows the law and wears the proper PPE. Watching other riders off base will determine what kind of rider they are. If you see them following the rules off base, more than likely they are going to be a very conscientious mentor.

Once the requirements of the Air Force and state are met, Holloman Airmen, or anyone who has access to the base, can enjoy riding a motorcycle safely and responsibly.

“It would be amazing if we can get at least more than half the base riding a motorcycle,” said Vallejo. “I’d like to see more bikes on the road and more riders engaged so they can all attend my mentorship rides as a giant group.”

For more information on riding please contact your motorcycle safety rep at (575) 554-3793. To register for MSF course, please visit www.nm-msp.org.