A marathon of two-wheeled travel might be the Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge that takes riders 10,000 miles around the United States in 12 days.
Rick McLeod of Rogers signed up for the challenge held in mid-July with a goal of just finishing. To do it, he averaged 20 hours a day in the saddle of his 2013 Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited motorcycle. He’d grab 80 winks in the middle of the night on a thin pad rolled out in the corner of a parking lot or wherever when he needed rest. Then it was back on the bike, roaring down the highway from state to state.
Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge
The Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge is a cross-country endurance ride designed to get participants out of their comfort zone and into places they might not otherwise go.
The event also has a goal of raising $150,000 for charities seeking to cure disease and improve living conditions.
Source: Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge.
McLeod accomplished his goal all right. Little did he know when his quest ended that he finished in the top 20 of 130 riders.
For that he got a patch and a shiny belt buckle. The Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge isn’t about prizes.
“It’s not a race, but it’s supposed to be a challenge,” said McLeod, 48, who owns an insurance agency in Rogers.
The 10,000 mile ride started and finished in Medicine Park, Okla., in southwest Oklahoma. McLeod steered his Harley through 27 states, all the way to Florida, then to Washington state before heading back to Medicine Park.
Twelve days on his motorcycle was “a wonderful ride, an adventure” he said. Much of the route was over picturesque back-country highways. Now and then, McLeod would hop off his bike to take pictures.
“You set out, and after the first three days, you really get into a grove, and it’s really fun,” he said. His plan was to cover at least 850 miles each day, but sometimes he’d ride up to 1,100 miles.
In the wee hours, at 1 or 2 a.m., McLeod rolled out his sleeping pad for a quick snooze, then he’d be back on his motorcycle by 5 a.m.
McLeod’s wife, Naomi McLeod, was all for her husband tackling the challenge, but the sleeping arrangements raised some concern.
“I thought he was nuts” when he said he wanted to enter, she said. “Then I said, ‘Go ahead.’ My major concern was the lack of sleep.”
She whipped up lots of trail mix for her husband. That’s what he ate most of the way and only dined five times in a restaurant. McLeod carried a hydration backpack for water, plus water bottles.
Riders aren’t allowed to use a GPS. Route maps issued by event officials guide riders, but directions can be vague, McLeod said, to add to the challenge. There are four check points at motorcycle shops over the 10,000 miles.
Riders aren’t allowed to carry extra fuel. McLeod nearly ran out of gas in Texas, but a man with a mower saved the day.
“I siphoned gas out of the guy’s mower, with his permission of course,” McLeod said. It was enough to get him to a gas station.
Each rider has a tracking device on his motorcycle for safety so event organizers know where he is. In the wee hours on July 27, they saw McLeod nearing the finish at Medicine Park. There’s a big welcome for riders at the finish. McLeod rolled in at 2:27 a.m. to a fine greeting and applause.
“It was fantastic. I had no idea there would be a welcoming committee,” he said. And McLeod had no idea he finished in the top 20 until his journey was through.
He basked in the glow of personal accomplishment, and treasures his buckle for finishing in the top 20. Not only that, he raised nearly $3,000 for Northwest Arkansas Children’s Shelter. Riders are encourage to use the event as a fundraiser for good causes. The 130 riders raised $200,000 through their effort, McLeod said.
Rolling down the road on a motorcycle has been a love for McLeod since his mid-20s.
“It’s almost cliché, but it’s the freedom of the road,” he said. “On a motorcycle you get all the elements.”
He and Naomi have enjoyed some long distance motorcycle journeys, with Naomi on the back of the Harley.
“We like to do a long ride once a year,” McLeod said. “We went to Alaska last year. We’ve been to California, Yellowstone and to Sturgis.
The 2018 Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge was McLeod’s first. He plans to fire up his Harley for the next one, scheduled for 2020.
Flip Putthoff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sports on 09/04/2018