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Bikers peel off from the staging area north of The Impact Zone as they get ready to go on the 67-mile “Freedom’s Thunder” Motorcycle Safety Rally on Thursday.Staff Sgt. Josh Stallings checks out his new T-shirt showing he was a participant in Fort Sill’s ninth annual “Freedom’s Thunder” Motorcycle Safety Rally on Thursday.

Sill cyclists stress safety at Freedom’s Thunder’

Wet pavement dampened riders' enthusiasm for Fort Sill's ninth annual "Freedom's Thunder" Motorcycle Safety Rally on Thursday.

Ken Broughton, installation safety officer manager, said 224 pre-registered for the ride but the number who actually went on it was around 183. The mud left behind by Wednesday night's rains deterred many.

At a pre-ride safety briefing, Broughton cautioned riders to "slow down and watch everything." John Cordes, safety director for the Fires Center of Excellence, elaborated on that, warning riders to steer clear of gravel and tree limbs.

"Don't bunch up. Keep your distance. Stagger your ride. Your road captains  watch them, listen to them," Cordes said.

Be careful around animals, he added at the prompting of Joe D'Arrigo, maintenance foreman for the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, himself a participant in the safety ride.

Cordes also let riders know that Fort Sill will be getting a new motorcycle policy soon after Maj. Gen. John G. Rossi takes command. It's all ready for him to sign, and it will have a few changes. Three-wheelers fall under the policy, but currently there is no safety course specifically for them, so riders take the two-wheeled version instead. That will change. Another change will be that sustainment training will be required once every five years instead of three.

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