July 6, 2021
Stage 1, the first full day of riding, took Chase competitors 295 miles to the west of our departure point in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Class 1 riders left the Auburn Place Hotel & Suites at 7:00 a.m., followed closely by Classes 2 and 3, with every rider making the start. The morning coolness upon leaving the city environs was quite refreshing, but by the time everyone arrived at the first checkpoint at Stillhouse Hollow Scenic View in Piedmont, Missouri, the sun had progressed far enough in its ascent to bake both bikes and their riders.
This checkpoint was where the second Rough Boys team rider had to load up his bike on the sweep truck. The 1939 Indian Chief ridden by Berry Wardlaw had a valve guide loosen, eventually resulting in the vintage machine running on only one cylinder. Sadly, by the time the day’s final checkpoint was reached, five more riders had to turn over their motorcycles to the sweep crew.
Checkpoint staff administered the first of the Chase quizzes today. The test contained geographical questions from yesterday’s prologue ride as well as more challenging questions related to antique motorcycle history. Out of the 12 questions, the best score was 10 points and the worst was 2. Riders, make sure to flip the test sheet over and answer the questions on the other side!
The day’s route, skillfully laid out by Course Master John Classen and his crew, consisted of a series of lightly-traveled curvaceous back roads through the countryside, with varying elevations up to 1,509 feet. Riders were thrilled to finally be able to put the bikes through their paces on these well-maintained byways.
By late afternoon, nearly everyone had arrived at our destination for the night—Chateau on the Lake Resort Spa in Branson, Missouri. This magnificent resort hotel provides stunning views of Table Rock Lake, and the setting sun glistening on the water , almost made some of us wish we could spend another day here to experience all that Branson has to offer. For instance, the city is known as the live entertainment capital of the world, at one time boasting nearly 50 country music celebrity-owned theatres lining the main streets. Roy Rogers, Boxcar Willie, Ray Stevens, Mickey Gilley, Andy Williams, Glen Campbell, and many more famous performers have owned theaters in the area.
The resort’s parking lot served as a makeshift open-air tech garage for riders who needed to repair their ancient (and sometimes newer) machines. Riders of single-cylinder motorcycles spent time tightening every accessible nut and bolt, most having learned from experience that these machines tend to shake, rattle, and roll parts right off the bike. Other riders were performing more serious diagnoses and repairs. Out of the six bikes brought to the resort on the sweep trailer, two had experienced catastrophic failures. Will the riders be able to fix them in time for the Stage 2 start? Tune in tomorrow to find out!