July 9, 2021
By the time Stage 4 of the Cross Country Chase rolls around, riders have generally gotten into the groove. But that doesn’t always mean smooth sailing—“Expect the unexpected” is one phrase that comes to mind, and that certainly played out in spades today.
Stage 4’s 262-mile course revealed plenty of surprises. Riding through Tahlequah, Oklahoma, proved quite enjoyable, and traversing scenic Route 10 along the Illinois River lent a sense of serenity to the day. Another interesting feature of the route was the tunnel-like single-lane roads lined by rock ledges on both sides. And would the Chase be complete without riding over an old bridge? We think not, so the Beaver Bridge, a one-lane suspension span carrying Route 187 over the White River, fit the bill nicely. The bridge was a little shaky, slightly unnerving those who hadn’t ridden over this sort of crossing before.
There were no “Did Not Starts” today, but sadly, six motorcycles had to be loaded onto the sweep trailer. One of those was #15 Cecil Frost’s 1947 Servi-Car. A lot of people were rooting for Cecil; the Servi-Car is a very hard bike to ride for so many miles on so many consecutive days. The ‘47 experienced an electrical problem that will hopefully be resolved before the Stage 5 start tomorrow.
Today’s navigation seemed to get the best of some riders, but most found their way back onto the course, except for #40 Vivian “Gypsy” Charros and #41 Berry Wardlaw. After all the trials and tribulations both riders have experienced this week, Murphy struck once again. This morning one of the Panheads on the Rough Boys team needed some work, causing them to start 1 ½ hours late. Then, more than 2/3 of the way along the route, Berry and Gypsy found themselves off course. The generator on Berry’s ’39 Indian Chief had died, and eventually the battery expired as well. Berry and Gypsy will be making their way back trying to fix the Chief sometime tonight so they can get here in time for the last day’s start tomorrow morning.
Despite the struggles riders and their antique machines face, it can be the heartwarming moments that make it all worthwhile. Chase rider #86 Max Lynch experienced just such a moment today. Note that the 1950 Moto Guzzi Falcone Max is riding belongs to Fred Wacker, who loaned it to Max as a prize in the Chase contest. As Max neared the check-in point in Mountain Home, Arkansas, today, a gentleman and his wife who lived in town heard Guzzi come through. The sound of this particular Guzzi was so unique that the couple was able to identify it as the motorcycle that the gentleman’s father once owned. They followed some competitors to the check-in point where they met Max and confirmed that, indeed, this was the very same machine that had been in their family, two owners ago. The gentleman’s mother even showed up bringing a photo of her sitting on that very same motorcycle 30 years ago! There were tears all around as the Falcone’s first family spent time reminiscing, telling Max tales of that era.
Rider #1, Todd Cameron, maintains his seven-point lead over the new Number 2 competitor— #88 Doug Wothke, the Class III leader. Will a major shake-up occur in Stage 5 tomorrow? Although there’s only one more day of the Chase, anything can happen—and there was a lot of wrenching going on tonight in the hotel parking lots. Watch for updates on the Chase’s Facebook page and website tomorrow to follow along on this adventure’s conclusion.