With more than 33,000 registered Army motorcycle riders, Division West took 35 of its own for a mentorship ride May 3 through the hills of Central Texas.

The ride’s emphasis was to promote motorcycle safety and training in preparation for the III Corps ride, which is quickly approaching.

“A lot of energy is going into this ride today,” said 166th Aviation Brigade Command Sgt. Maj. Glen Vela, the division’s senior motorcycle mentor. “We are doing this ride in preparation for our III Corps ride.”

May is Motorcycle Awareness Month. Division West is taking the time out to help soldiers reintegrate their bikes back into the warmer climate.

“It gives us an opportunity to exercise the bikes, and the chain of command supports our program,” Vela said. “Who wouldn’t rather ride their motorcycle than sit behind their computer and work?”

The morning’s events began with some tutorials on sport and cruiser motorcycles. Soldiers were given tips on how to maintain their bikes through the winter months.

“We were talking about getting the bikes out of long-term storage and ready for the riding season,” said Joel Leaver, a Fort Hood motorcycle and traffic safety instructor. “You should also plan for things that could happen while riding and look for a path of travel to get through it.”

After the briefings, mentors and riders had the opportunity to inspect their bikes. The division riders checked tire pressure, brakes, chains and belts and made other functions checks to make sure the bikes were ready for the day’s ride.

Riders commented on why they enjoyed riding and why safety is paramount.

“I love the freedom of riding,” said Sgt. 1st Class Cynthia Pearson, who has seven years of riding experience. “It gives me a chance to put things into perspective and also on how to improve my riding skills.”

“Even though it helps get my mind off things, I still have to pay attention to the people around me and remain safety-minded,” Pearson said.

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