July 10, 2021
Stage 5, the final day of the Cross Country Chase, saw riders travel 255 miles from Mountain Home, Arkansas, back to Cape Girardeau, Missouri. The course traversed rolling hills and bucolic farmlands by way of a series of scenic backroads. One of today’s highlights was riding the magnificent roads around Lake Wappapello, an 8,000-acre reservoir in Wayne County, Missouri.
The erratic behaviors of cantankerous old motorcycles can cause Chasers to ride on a roller coaster of emotions—from the enjoyment of touring some of the best riding roads in the U.S., to the heartbreak of not being able to ride to the finish. This phenomenon is perfectly illustrated by #30 John Stoner’s adventures. After his heroic efforts to get to Hot Springs at 1:00 a.m. on July 9, he ended up on the sweep trailer during the next stage later in the day. That night, he tried to repair the problem but still ended up with a “Did Not Start” status the final day. It was a valiant effort, but there’s always next year.
The Rough Boys team also experienced the ups and downs of endurance riding on aged iron. After several trips on the sweep trailer throughout the week, #40 Vivian “Gypsy” Charros and #41 Berry Wardlaw, with his pooch Molly, were able to join #16 Tony “Pan” Sanfelipo as the team rode together over the finish line. Another great accomplishment involved the three young men who won the Chase contest, #83 Jake Smallwood, #85 Connor Levenson, and #86 Max Lynch, all of whom finished the endurance run.
Spirits were high among riders as they approached the grand finale in Cape Girardeau, knowing that their 1,341-mile journey was about to come to an end. As the procession reached Main Street, emotions ran the gamut. Riders grinned from ear to ear as they were greeted by Cape Girardeauans waving flags and cheering along with riders’ loved ones who joined the downtown celebration. Tears flowed and joy abounded as the checkered flag waved the riders across the finish line.
Of the 79 riders that started in Stage I, 53 rode all 1,341 miles. Each was awarded a pennant and a special ACE sticker. There was a $1,500 bounty for anyone who answered all 12 questions on any quiz correctly, but no one achieved that goal this year. Doug Wothke scored 49 correct answers out of 60 questions, giving him the distinction of being the most knowledgeable of all the competitors.
Todd Cameron won Class I as well as the overall Chase with 1,406 points, and was 4 points ahead of Doug Wothke who took second and was the Class III winner. Mike Spagnola followed Doug by 5 points to take third place overall and second place in Class I. Paul Warrenfelt took third in Class I. Jim Gilfoyle was the Class II winner and took 4th place overall. Billy Richards came in second in Class III and Joe Ferri took third.
With the exception of a few bursts of rain once or twice during the week, the weather held out until the rider awards were announced during the grand finale ceremony, when the skies opened up and dumped torrents of rain on the crowd. Apparently the gods of endurance were showing the riders they shouldn’t leave Cape Girardeau just yet, a sentiment that was reflected by the warm and welcoming demeanor of city residents and officials.
Plans have already been announced for the 2022 Cross Country Chase, which will take riders along Route 66 from Illinois to California, September 7-17. Keep an eye on www.themotorcyclechase.com and The Chase Facebook page as further details are revealed.