Hoka Hey Challenge

Follow The Driftwood Inn’s Hoka Hey Challenger

Hoka Hey Challenge

Click here to follow Alex “almost to the minute” on Google Maps

Friday, Day 13

Alex arrived Homer at 10:18 pm Friday night July 2nd. He rode 674 miles yesterday from Delta Junction, through Fairbanks, Talkeetna, Wasilla, Anchorage, Soldotna and into Homer. All total he logged 9,253 miles from Key West to Homer, Alaska. Ero, Cheyenne, the Torngas, and the kids went out the highway and welcomed him through Ninilchik. The girls worked on signs, that said, “Ellie, Lilly, and Lexie love Daddy”, “Way to Hoka Hey, Daddy”, “Almost Home”, “Just a few More Miles”, “Good Job, Daddy”, “Hugs and Kisses, waiting at the Finish Line”, and “Welcome Home, Daddy”. We put them up every 2 miles; from 10 miles out. He had quite a welcome home with the girls hanging all over him, telling him that “You really need to shave, daddy, and “Daddy, I think you smell!” He described the ride as a spiritual experience that’s hard to put into words. He would definitely do it again! He’s happy to be home, but ready to get back on the bike and keep riding…

My response: I have a 2010 Harley Davidson Road Glide for sale if anyone is interested 🙂

Alex thanks everyone for all their emails, text messages, comments and prayers…thank you for sharing in his journey!!!

Thursday, Day 12

Alex rode 795 miles from Watson Lake to Delta Junction on Thursday. He checked in with me at 1 am this morning (Friday). He did report that in one place the ruts were so bad he found himself in the other lane once. Thank goodness he was alone on the road. Alex slept on the porch of the Watson Lake Post Office Wednesday night to stay out of the rain and will sleep on the porch of the Crowley Marine Services Office in Delta Junction for 5 hours or so as he said he is just too tired to make it to Fairbanks this morning. He hopes to get an oil change in Fairbanks and then head to Homer today. It will depend on how long it takes to get in for his oil change but he hopes to be HOME late tonight. You can bet that Eleanor, Lillian, Lexie Pearl and I can hardly wait!!!

Wednesday, Day 11

Alex arrived Watson Lake in the Yukon tonight. He called from a landline as the cell phone would not work. It was a quick call so I was not able to get a good update. He mentioned that the roads are not that great with gravel, pot holes, and frost heaves so he’s taking it slower as it sounds like there has been several wipe-outs from the loose gravel, etc…he’s going to get some good sleep and head out in the morning again. When he can’t get through on the phone he sends an “OK” ping on the SPOT so that we all know that the reason he is not moving is that he is resting and “Okay”. I drove to Anchorage tonight to get some supplies for the Inn  and decorations for the 4th of July Parade.  I head back to Homer in the morning. Alex says, “hello” to everyone….and hopes to be home on Friday night or Saturday.

Tuesday, Day 10

Alex arrived Fort Saint John at 11pm Alaska time, midnight local time. He rode 754 miles today and has logged 7180 miles total. He’s pitching his tent as I type, says its soaking wet from the thunder and rain storm from the night before…he rolled it up wet this morning and of course its still wet now…said he was tempted to go get a hotel room when he saw a couple of other riders headed into one, but is determined to stick to the “no hotel” rule and finish the route as published. It’s become a personal challenge to finish in good standing:) even though it won’t be with the leaders. Thank you for all the prayers, emails and good luck comments at our site…I’ve been passing them along and Alex really appreciates them!

Monday, Day 9:

Alex slept in Hardin, Montana last night. He decided not to pitch his tent and slept near a picnic bench; only to startled awake by what he thought was rain; turned out it was the sprinkler system. Then he made his way to Missoula, MT where he checked in at 2:37 local time. He was going to get his bike checked out at the dealer but they were booked so he checked the oil, got a quick nap, and headed north. Alex crossed the Canadian Border at 8 pm local time. An hour later he pitched his tent before dark for a change and promised to get at least 5-6 hours before heading up the road. He logged 640 miles today for a grand total of 6418. He is excited to be headed for cooler weather…next checkpoint is Fairbanks, Alaska!

Two riders arrived Homer this morning….here’s a great article about their last leg of the challenge and why they made a pact to finish together 🙂 http://www.homernews.com/stories/062810/First-two-Hoka-Hey-challengers.shtml the next group of riders are not due until tomorrow…

We have also been cheering on “Cowboy” who stays with us at the Inn often during the charity rides to Homer…he was one of the leaders riding around 12th place until yesterday when he had an accident; here is what his wife posted on his page: “First and foremost – Mac is OK! I received a call at approximately 12:27 am AK time from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. He has had a wreck and is out of the challenge. He was transported to Invermere Hospital in Invermere, British Columbia. There is trauma to his right side; broken collar bone, tendon rupture in his knee, and possible 3rd rib fracture. They’ll know more about the rib after the radiologist reviews the x-rays. Initial reports indicate he was tired and lost control of the bike.”  “Cowboy” everyone at the Driftwood is praying for a quick recovery for you!  Godspeed!

Sunday, Day 8:

Alex just called at 11:45 Alaska Time/ 1:45am Montana time. He rode 730 miles today for a grand total of 5753 miles so far. As you can see on the spot gps he got turned around in Sturgis for about an hour but got right back on track. He said he got 2 good naps today and was getting ready to get some good sleep tonight. You might have noticed a few okay pings on the spot. That usually means he’s out of cell range and letting us all know that he is okay and that he probably just stopped for a nap. It sounds like after Missoula the next check point will be the Harley Davidson Dealer in Fairbanks. We talked about renting a motorhome someday and taking the girls on the same route…. said he seeing some beautiful countryside. He sounds great and is keeping it postitive…and looking forward to riding into Alaska…

Saturday, Day 7:

Wow, what a day! Alex rode 951 miles today and has traveled 4700 miles so far. He did take a couple of power naps today and started off at 2:15 am local time and traveled through the Arizona’s Grand Canyon, up through Monument Valley, through Utah and into Wyoming arriving at the checkpoint in Rock Springs Wyoming at 5:30pm just in time to find that the place offering showers closed at 5pm.

He got his new map with directions to the new checkpoint at the Harley Davidson Dealership in Missoula Montanna 1351.6 miles away. He then rode half way across Wyoming towards South Dakota. He called at 11pm Alaska/ 1am Wyoming Time to let me know that he was camping out just east of Casper, Wyoming and promised to sleep at least 5-6 hours.

He was chuckling as he told me this story: Today; he pulled over to take a break, in the Navajo Reservation in Arizona and puts the kick stand down…only it doesn’t hold and he drops the bike on his lower leg and can’t get out from under it. It’s hot, he is sweaty and wiped out, and he just doesn’t have the strength to lift the bike off of his leg. He looks over to see a elderly Naavajo Indian woman who offers to lend a hand. His pride is wounded; but when she offers to help…he accepts. She reaches over and with one hand gently pushes on his pack and the bike magically stands up…

Alex thanks everyone for all their prayers and support and promises to keep it safe…. thank you for all your emails, texts, and calls.

Friday, Day 6:
Alex checked in at 9:52pm Alaska Time/ 11:52pm Arizona Time. He was on the rim of the Grand Canyon. He put in 700+ miles today in beautiful Arizona. There are a lot of other riders that got so frustrated after the second day when the signs were vandalized that they “bagged” the original route and took the interstates or better roads to get to the checkpoints with the leaders and you can’t really blame them. It will still be an accomplishment to make it to Homer; doesn’t matter the route. However, Alex has decided to stick to the original route at least for now. He is being especially careful especially after four Hoka Hey Riders blasted past him just south of Holbrook in Arizona as he kept to the speed limit. He reported animals all over the road. A little while later at 8am Arizona Time he was waved past an accident he believes involved 4 bikes but could not be sure. He said it upset him enough he almost came straight home. Lets pray everyone involved is okay. They would not release any informations until family was notified. Alex started out at 5:50am Arizona time after getting a good 6 hours of sleep and rode almost 18 hours through the petrified forest and around to the rim of the Grand Canyon of Arizona putting in over 700 miles with just a couple of breaks. Tonight he is sleeping on a covered picnic table next to the Grand Canyon with a full moon overhead. Life really can be an adventure; wouldn’t you say?

Thursday, Day 5:
Alex checked in with us about 8:15 pm Alaska Time / 10:15 pm Arizona Time. He rode 650 miles today and got turned in the wrong direction once but was able to retrace and get back on track. He reports that he is in Arizona now seeing some beautiful country where there are red rock canyons and spectacular scenery. There was a storm headed his way when he called so he stopped and set up his tent; hopefully NOT on another ant pile:) He planned on using his sleeping bag for the first time as the temperatures were supposed to dip down into the 40’s last night . Sounded like he was actually looking forward to those cooler temperatures. He is running about 24 hours behind the leaders now; but that doesn’t bother him; he’s playing it safe; resting when he should; and enjoying the scenery. The plan was to get up early this morning and hit the road while the temperatures were still cool. For those wondering about “Olds’ from Anchor Point, Alex reported that he got gas with him at about 6:30pm in Many Farms, Arizona. “Olds”, looked fine and was riding hard. He headed out ahead of Alex.

You can see three articles in the Homer paper at the following links; one is about Alex and the others are about the Challenge:

Wednesday, Day 4:
Alex called at 8:45 Alaska Time/ 10:45pm MDT; he just crossed the border from Oklahoma into New Mexico.
He is going to rest for 5 or 6 hours and then hit it early in the morning when its not so hot. He says the heat is almost unbearable so he is eager to get further west; at least the humidity should be better. He tried to take a nap in the shade today without success; it was just to hot!

Turns out the reason so many folks were frustrated and lost was because an individual or group; perhaps in one of the lead groups are taking down road and directional signs as they go. See this link: http://blog.hokaheychallenge.com/2010/06/23/challenge-progress.aspx

There was another accident this evening. The unofficial report is that a rider from Colorado, running in 2nd or 3rd place but was hit by a vehicle as he was coming onto I40 just east of Flagstaff. It sounds like he will be okay with a possible broken shoulder but that it was a hit and run. Let’s pray that there are no more accidents and that everyone arrives safely in Homer.

Tuesday, Day 3:
I just received a text from Alex at 1:35am Arkansas Time, he only has 1 bar on his phone and cannot get a call through. He is with a group of riders who are camping at a closed gas station in a small town called Jasper. He had to spend 3 hours at the dealership in Memphis to get the throttle fixed; but he was able to chart his course and get some more shut eye. They also changed his oil. He left Memphis at 3:30pm local time and rode 10 hours with just a few small breaks for gas, water, protein snacks and a stretch. I read another blog who mentioned that their group was told by some of the folks waving along the farm road that they were in the top 60 or so…Alex is 6 hours ahead of that group but 10 hours behind another group that has a spot. He’ll get some sleep tonight, get gas, and head out for a long day tomorrow. Sounds like this route to Rock Springs, Wyoming is going to take them through Phoenix!!! I did get to talk to him at one of the gas stops earlier and he was doing great!!! He mentioned to me tonight that when he pitched his tent, in the dark, last night…. it was directly onto an ant pile. YIKES!

Thank you for all the words of encouragement….he is getting text messages but the stops are too short to respond…he said to let you all know that he really appreciates all the prayers and support. I have been passing on your messages.

Monday, Day 2:
Alex called me at 9pm Alaska Time/12am central time to report that it had not been a good day. He got together with a couple of other riders and together they managed to get off track. He finally left them to retrace. Sounds like they ended up turning around and following him back. You can probably see by the spot map that there was a lot of back tracking today and probably lost about 3 hours. He was pitching his tent to get a few hours rest and then will back track to the route at daylight. The country roads are not well marked so the riding at night has been very difficult. They are not allowed to use the most direct route…they have to stay on the assigned route or risk being disqualified so even though he knows the destination is Memphis he must stay on winding designated route. Tomorrow will be a better day. He sounded in good spirits despite the bad day.

Sunday, Day 1:
Alex left Key West Florida at approximately 6:33am EST.  Alex decided to start towards the back of the pack for fear of any wrecks early on.

Later that morning, Alex called at 10:34 am when he made his first stop for gas; he mentioned that their were others who traveling at rates of 80+ mph but that he was keeping it safe and sticking to the speed limit. Remember, there is zero tolerance on speeding tickets. One speeding ticket will disqualify a rider from the challenge.

About 30 minutes later he called to to report that there may be an accident ahead; that the road was temporarily closed; but that it sounded like it did not involve a motorcycle. 20 minutes later he was underway again and I later learned that their were 3 separate accidents occurring at separate times in the same area involving 4 hoka hey motorcycles. It sounds like everyone walked away with minor injuries. Two of the four riders were from Alaska but I do not know there names only that they were NOT from Homer.

He checked in Sunday night at 7:33pm EST from the checkpoint at Ormond Beach, FL. He received his new map and reported that his next destination is Memphis, 904 miles away. The weather report west of Ormond Beach looked like the low will be around 75 degrees with scattered thunderstorms. That sounded nice compared to the 90+ degree temperatures today and the rain storms he drove through. We only spoke for a minute as he was anxious to get back on the road.

On June 20th, 2010, about 500 dedicated riders started their 7,000+ mile run from Key West, FL to Homer, Alaska.

Only about 500 elite individuals – those who can hear 10,000 horses thundering across the prairie as they ride into battle – will be counted among those who have chosen to fulfill a life-long dream.
The route is not published.  Riders will be required to sleep with their bikes and no GPS devices will be allowed.  However, our rider will be equipped with a SPOT so that we can follow his progress.   If you would like to follow our rider and cheer him on check out the link below.


Our Challenger

The Driftwood Inn, proudly sponsor’s our Challenger, Alex Sweeney from Homer, Alaska.

Here’s what Alex told us about why he’s making the ride…

“I met a Viet Nam Vet in the 60’s riding his horse across country and it gave me the idea that some day I would do the same thing on a motorcycle. He was riding the back roads and working his way across the country by working on farms for food and money as well as a place to put up his horse. For me though it seems there has never been time with work and family commitments to make the trip and 43 years have passed since I met that lone rider.

I have always felt while riding; that my bike was truly an extension of the horse and riding my bike in the open has always given me that feeling. When we saw the Hoka Hey Challenge starting; it brought back the memory of that Viet Nam Vet.  This challenge provides the opportunity to participate in a “once in a lifetime” event that covers all the reasons for going on a ride. I am at a point in my life that I feel like it is now or never.

The Driftwood Inn and RV Park has provided the support to make it a reality. I will be starting the challenge with a thousand other riders, however, winning the Challenge is not the goal for me……it’s the ride. There is no question that I will finish the Challenge as I will be riding towards the Driftwood Inn and RV park where my wife and three daughters will be cheering me and my “old-horse” home.  I have no expectations of winning the challenge and I am not expecting any miracles but my family will be awaiting my arrival in the shortest time possible…who knows…I might just win! “