Thursday, August 18, 2011

Updates from A.D. Farrow!!!

You can feel the charge when someone says “In coming!”
A buzz of excitement fills the briefly quiet service pavilion. There is a Harley-Davidson
Master Technician curled up on the mat next to his lift under a blanket. His co-workers
rouse him yelling “Hoka Hey” he stretches and rubs his eyes, having no idea the
condition or needs of the next bike he’ll see.

Two associates on watch this shift are staring at the GPS monitor with little red circles
and numbers scattered across a map of the United States. “He’s at going over the bridge,
get the towel ready!”
It’s Tuesday morning, before dawn, and 10 or so associates have been onsite at
America’s Oldest Harley dealer for 78 hours straight greeting riders on the Hoka Hey
Motorcycle Challenge.
The routine started on Saturday morning, when rider 703 rolled in at 7:45 am and has
been refined through the next 50+ riders. As the little red circle approaches on the
satellite tracking website, associates gather by the large garage doors into the service
pavilion. One guy volunteers to run out towards the freeway with a handheld LED light
to direct the weary rider through the curved drive of A.D. Farrow Co. Harley-Davidson
Shop at NorthStar, while another warms a fresh hot towel in the microwave. The Hoka
Hey challenger rides east on State Route 37, crosses over I-71 and turns into the historic

Some associates cheer and applaud the challenger as he rolls right into the shop. The
rider takes off his helmet and then buries his stubbled face in the hot towel. A quick
word of welcome from Dealer Principal Bob Althoff, then a service writer jumps in to
assess the Harley. Bob grabs a rag and starts wiping down the bike which is covered in
Black Hills, Michigan and now Ohio bugs! And then two or three technicians begin
working on the machine with the precision and efficiency of a NASCAR pit crew.
Rolling tires across the shop, running impact drivers, and putting two or three heads
together to figure out the best or maybe the quickest solution.

At the 13th checkpoint in the one-of-a-kind cross country motorcycle challenge, riders
are offered hot showers, an array of first aid supplies and a table full of fresh fruit, snacks
and bottles of cold water. The grill is fired up and a hot hamburger or hot dog can be
ready in just a couple of minutes
Some challengers just need a quick bathroom break. They verify their ID, sign their
names and are off again chasing the rider in front of them. Some give brief instructions
to the service department about their ride then head the grass or the asphalt on A.D.
Farrow Co.’s eighteen-acre campus for a couple hours of sleep. Still some riders,
bursting with excitement, find a willing listener and begin to share about their journey.
First, there was Ralph from North Carolina. He rode out to the start of the Hoka Hey
from North Carolina, a 2,100 mile warm up ride! He has no fancy gear or high tech
accessories. Just a good flannel shirt, leather chaps and handkerchief tied around his
neck, yet he checked in third out of the 250 challengers! When he rode out on his cleanup-
good-as-new Harley through the cheering associates and spectators, he said in his
genuine soft spoken drawl, “Gosh, you sure made me feel like a somebody!”

Later that night, Rider comes in and tells the story that is quickly making him a legend in
the event. After coming around a curve in Montana, he sees a herd of elk in the road. He
can’t stop quickly enough so he tries to shoot the gap, but the gap closes and he goes
down hard. The rider behind him calls for help and when he wakes up, he is covered in
road rash and bruises in the ambulance. After several hours under the care of emergency
services for a concussion, he gets back on the bike and still manages to check in at A.D.
Farrow Co. in 12th place!
Then, Eden checked in on her [bike], the first woman to reach Columbus. Somewhere
along her journey she had lost the visor to her Scorpion helmet and had been using her
reading glasses for the last several hundred miles! We didn’t have it in stock, so Brandon,
a service technician, says, “Just give me a minute.” He runs home and comes back ten
minutes later with the replacement visor from his own helmet.

Then it’s riders like the guy from Boston that remind you not only how physically
draining this ride can be, but also the enormous emotional toll that a challenge like this
brings. He looked each associate in the eye and thanked them for heir help. When asked
about his journey, he choked up and it was clear that this wasn’t about the prize money or
new bikes. For the Bostonian, rising to the Hoka Hey Challenge was his “pay it forward”
moment, a motorcycle ride to commemorate a much longer journey. Last year, a
devastating crash with a drunk driver sent him to hospital with serious spinal injuries.
Without health insurance and unable to work, the walls seemed to be closing in. His
HOG chapter, his Harley family, stepped up and paid his mortgage and raised money to
help with his bills. He is so grateful to be out of that dark place and on the open road
again. At each checkpoint, his Harley family has grown.
For some riders, America’s Oldest Harley Dealer was a pit stop and oil change on the
ride of a lifetime. They checked in and then quickly rolled out with a full stomach and
empty bladder. Some challengers coasted in on a puff of smoke and needed a new
compensator or other major engine work just to make it home. And then some riders just
rode in looking for some company on the road. They needed to share their story and
lighten their load. All of them came in through a tunnel of applause and rode out with
cheers of admiration for attempting this challenge.

And then, as quickly as the buzz filled the room, it’s gone just like that. Back to sleep for
another couple of hours.


  1. Wish I could be at these check points to help out and experience the vicarious thrills you guys are! Thanks for the updates, it helps appease the jealousy!

  2. I'm glad to see that the people at AD Farrow are at least there to help when someone rides in needing it. There are SEVERAL riders that have had to wait till the service dept opened THE NEXT DAY to get work/parts for their bikes. I think if they signed on as a check point that they should have someone there to assist these guys/gals when they come in matter what place they are in!!!

  3. Wow I have read every post, followed everything online since this challenges started this year. It inspired me when due to business was able to be there for the start, this gave me the passion to follow those who had more strength to do this then I. This is by far the best story so far.
    Today's post is the first one that even an old tough dude like me got a tear in my eye reading. By far this is one of the greatest stories told in this journey this month. My I cant wait to meet those great people who work for A.D.Farrow Harley dealer. They deserve a hats off for service like that.
    To all the Harley riders out there, we are all family. Rock on

  4. Someone call Guinness Book of World Records.. I am sure the leader has broke some sort of Sleep Deprivation record over a two week span. I'd like to see the tracks laid out that the bikes took. I think some of these epic runs from say MI/Ohio to Tennessee are very interesting. The only time I ever saw 703 not moving was at the OH Harley for a couple hours. World Records had to be broken. Good times.