14th annual motorcycle safety awareness ride held at JBER

Soldiers gather for Knock Off the Rust Ride at JBER
Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 10:03 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson held its 14th annual Kick Off The Rust motorcycle safety ride on Friday.

The event is designed to promote motorcycle safety, awareness, and comradery among active military members who experience life on two wheels, and to provide motorcycle and personal protective equipment inspections.

Members of the Green Knights military motorcycle club partnered with JBER’s Safety Office to host the ride that began on base and ended at Denali Harley-Davidson in Palmer. Despite the rainy weather, a total of 13 riders attended the event.

Green Knights president Master Sgt. Michael “Tabled” Krueger said the group encourages safe riding for all active-duty military members.

“We get with them to do T-CLOCS checks to make sure their bike is good to go,” Krueger said. “Make sure they know that they are riding safe, make sure they are aware of having the right PPE — the helmets, gloves, and whatnot.”

T-CLOCS is a Motorcycle Safety Foundation acronym that acts as a pre-trip inspection routine. It stands for tires and wheels, controls, lights and electronics, oils and other fluids, chassis, and stands.

All military members are required to take official training from an MSF-certified program before they are allowed to ride a motorcycle on base. Buck McHenry manages the on-base program as the occupational safety manager for JBER’s Safety Office. With over 300 base personnel who ride motorcycles, McHenry’s efforts are crucial to safety on and off base.

“[It’s] a chance for these guys to build some resiliency and contacts to hopefully give them somebody to ride with and maybe, you know, practice safety together and ride safer,” McHenry said. “We don’t want to see anybody get hurt — or worse.”

According to a report on road safety issued in late 2021, Alaska’s four motorcycle-related fatalities in 2020 accounted for nearly 6% of all fatalities in the state that year. Half of those fatalities involved riders not wearing a helmet. The likelihood of death or serious injury can be reduced by wearing proper protective equipment — including a helmet.

Following inspections, riders took part in exercises designed to prepare them for the road — like weaving through obstacles and stopping quickly — before setting off for a loop around the base. The dozen-plus rumbling engines then provided ‘rolling thunder’ down the Old Glenn Highway to Palmer, where the group enjoyed a barbecue lunch.

Even with gray skies, the joy of riding was still present.

“It was still fun to get out there and do that,” McHenry said.