In a repeat of the 2010 Hoka Hey motorcycle challenge, about 75 Harley-Davidson motorcycle riders left Key West, Fla., on Sunday and are headed to Homer.
This time, though, they’re riding for glory and not for a $500,000 prize for the first rider to hit Coal Point at the end of the Homer Spit. Calling this ride “Unfinished Business,” organizers waived the $1,000 entry fee. As in 2010, Hoka Hey is sponsored by the Medicine Show Land Trust of Hot Springs, S.D.
This year’s 7,500-mile Hoka Hey is more like a rally. Riders get route instructions at each checkpoint, and won’t know until they arrive at a checkpoint where they go next. Checkpoints are farther apart, with the first checkpoint at Wind River Harley-Davidson, Lawton, Okla.
As an event challenging individual’s endurance and navigating skill, the character of Hoka Hey has changed, said finish line coordinator Annie Malloy.
“It works better this way. We just have this really quality core group of people who love to ride,” she said. “People who have made it in 2010 are on it. They’re on their way.”
Riders can’t use GPS or smart phones to navigate, but they are tracked by satellite devices with USFleetTracking, a company that tracks longhaul truck drivers. A link on the Hoka Hey website shows the progress of riders. As of Wednesday morning, the lead rider was near Great Falls, Mont.
Malloy expects the first riders to arrive this weekend or early next week. On Saturday she opens the finish line office at the old Alaska Ferry Adventures building across from the End of the Road Park, the official finish line. On July 31, the Salty Dawg holds a party for riders and their families. From 5 to 10 p.m. Aug. 1, Kenai Harley-Davidson holds a party.
There also will be a party at the Down East Saloon on Aug. 2. Harley-Davidson riders from Anchorage, Wasilla and Kenai also will be coming to Homer.
A father-son team from Wasilla are the only Alaskans riding this year. Many 2010 riders also are on the way. Progress of the challenge can be tracked online at event.usft.com/hokahey.
Michael Armstrong can be reached at email@example.com.