Homer Alaska - Hokey Hey

Story last updated at 6:37 PM on Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hoka Hey Challenge not over yet

Winners won't be announced until Sturgis, organizer says

By Michael Armstrong
Staff Writer


Photo by Michael Armstrong, Homer News

Some of the finishers of the Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challengers ride in Homer's Fourth of July parade. About 300 riders finished by Sunday.

And the winner of the 8,500-mile Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge from Key West, Fla., to Homer is ... Will Barclay of Highland, Fla.

Or maybe Frank Kelly of Prosperity S.C., Marc Storey of Australia, Jeff Mosby of Alexandria, La., Mike McGuire of Walnut Creek, Calif., or any of the other top 10 finishers. Barclay and Kelly were the top finishers, crossing the line simultaneously at 4:20 a.m. June 28. Other top finishers came in late Monday and early Tuesday.

Although Hoka Hey organizers had said the winner would be announced July 4 at the challenge celebration at Stone Steps Estate, at the event Hoka Hey organizer Jim Red Cloud, also known as Jim Durham, said that the winner has not been decided. Once Hoka Hey officials have vetted the finishers, a $500,000 prize is to be awarded Aug. 11 at the Broken Spoke Saloon in Sturgis, S.D., during the 70th annual Sturgis motorcycle rally.

Red Cloud said checks will keep being done until an official finisher is found.

"Someone didn't lie," he said of going through the list to find a qualified finisher.

Before a group of about 300 Sunday night, Red Cloud also announced a new development in the event: a Hoka Hey challenge will be held in 2011, to be run by John White of Seattle, president of American Piledriving Equipment. Red Cloud said the event would run from San Diego, Calif., to Nova Scotia and be open to all motorcycle brands — an announcement that got loud booing from the die-hard Harley-Davidson riders. Red Cloud won't be involved, he said.

"Not like this. We're done," he said.

Hoka Hey West Coast organizer Annie Malloy said the top three finishers are being closely reviewed. They have had hair-follicle testing done for drugs and will take polygraph or lie-detector tests, Red Cloud said. Log books, gas receipts, odometer readings and other records also are being examined to see if the top finishers stayed on the complicated route that took them through the Deep South, Southwest and Western U.S., Canada and Alaska. In addition to seven official checkpoints, surprise spot checks were set up on the route, including a stop at tribal elder Chief Oliver Red Cloud's home in Pine Ridge, S.D.

Riders got directions to the next checkpoint upon arriving at a checkpoint. Many riders complained of difficult and confusing directions. Vandals took down or changed highway signs on the route, too. Malloy said organizers rode the route.

"We know it's right," she said.

Riders also said volunteers weren't available to check them in at the Fairbanks checkpoint. Malloy said volunteers signed up to staff the checkpoint hadn't shown up when the Harley-Davidson dealership closed for the night.

About 300 riders of about 500 entered had arrived in Homer by Sunday.

Several riders were still on the road. A Hoka Hey official is driving the route behind the red lantern rider and checking for any riders still traveling.

The celebration was marred by the deaths of two Hoka Hey riders. Charles C. Lynn of Sorento, Fla., died June 27 in a single-vehicle incident near Douglas, Wyo. A second rider, Kenneth Green, 63, of Ocala, Fla., died about 1 p.m. Sunday near Mile 107 Glenn Highway in a crash near Caribou Creek east of Sutton (see story, page 9).

A moment of silence was held at Sunday night's event to honor the two men killed.

On the stage Sunday, Red Cloud said a third riders died, but inquiries to Alaska State Troopers and Canadian Royal Mounted Police did not show any other Hoka Hey riders killed except for Lynn and Greene.

Under sunny skies and an evening rain, a steady crowd came and went into the evening to listen to a line up of local and Alaska bands, including favorites Holy Santos Gang and Three Legged Mule. Duggan's Pub ran a beer garden and Don Jose's Restaurant and Sweet Berries Café served food. Official sponsor Raven's Brew also sold coffee. A stunning view of the Kenai Mountains across Kachemak Bay provided a back drop to the stage.

Motorcycle riders could drive to the venue off Brenmark Avenue, but to minimize traffic in the East End Road neighborhood, buses shuttled people from town.

Hoka Hey riders mingled freely with the crowd, swapping stories and even signing autographs. Motorcycle riders from the Kenai Peninsula and elsewhere in Alaska also came. The evening started with comments by Jim Red Cloud and then an address by Web connection from Chief Oliver Red Cloud.

Before the music started, about 80 riders lined up for a group photograph Sunday by the band stage. Although mostly men, the group included a strong showing of women. Riders came from all over the U.S., with a healthy representation from Florida and Alaska.

Several Australians rode, as did a Scotsman, John Crawford of Edinburgh, who wore his clan kilt and flew the Scottish Lion Rampant flag in the Homer Fourth of July parade.

After the group photo, one by one the riders tapped their challenge coins on the edge of the stage, the numbered ceremonial medallions all got for entering the event. Soon a thundering crescendo almost as loud as their Harleys echoed among the spruce tree forest.

"That's just a token of their memories," Red Cloud said of the coins.

The coins mean a waiver of the entry fee in the 2011 Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge, Red Cloud said.

"Everyone who's got a coin — you can ride this one for free," he said. "Get ready to sign up again — if you want to do it again."

Web blogs and citizen journalist pages have recounted numerous complaints. One rider's wife, Jeri O'Barr of Orlando, Fla., filed a formal civil complaint June 25 through the Florida Attorney General Web page. She claimed Hoka Hey's real purpose had been misrepresented.

Barr said Jim Red Cloud told the riders in Key West that they would be riding across country to sites of mass murder to gather the souls of warriors and take them to Homer.

"We are Christians and don't play with souls," O'Barr wrote in her complaint. "In our religion, it is considered witchcraft. My husband would never have chosen to support this event had he known, up front, what Jim Red Cloud's real agenda was."

Red Cloud said he's heard of the many complaints.

"I've been blamed for everything from the Kennedy assassination to the Holocaust," he said.

If any of the Cook Inlet volcanoes blew, Red Cloud said he wouldn't be surprised if he was blamed for that, too.

Hoka Hey saw at least two marriages Sunday. Robert "Zippidy Zoombaugh" and Sherryl Zumbaugh of Palm Bay, Fla., tied the knot after riding together on the same Police Road King motorcycle. Zumbaugh, a 65-year-old Vietnam War veteran with diabetes, got special permission for his girlfriend and now wife to ride with him.

"Can you imagine riding a motorcycle for 9,100 miles?" Zumbaugh said before getting married Sunday. "It's amazing for her to ride that far."

Zumbaugh had nothing but good words to say for Homer.

"Everybody in town has been welcoming to us — the friendliest town we've seen," he said.

"I just wish the sun shone more," Sheryl Zumbaugh said. "We loved it all."

Also getting married on Sunday were Sherie and Cotton Matheson of Dawsonville, Ga.

Some riders shipped their motorcycles home and flew back, while others dipped their rear wheels in Kachemak Bay at Land's End and did the trip over, like brothers Ron and Chuck Klima of Sarasota, Fla., who finished 10 and 11th on June 29 on 1990s era Sportsters. Last Wednesday they said they were going to take a shower, do some laundry, get drunk and drive back July 1.

Josh Davis of Painter, Kans., and John Goss of Mound City, Kans., rode together from Kansas to Key West, up to Homer, and were driving back to Kansas — about 15,000 miles, they said they guessed.

"This is what I thought it would be," said Gail Clark of Boynton Beach, Fla., at the celebration.

"It's not the ride. It's the journey. We had one hell of a journey," Robert Zumbaugh said.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong.@homernews.com.