Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Letter to MY Challengers

I am finally preparing to leave Nova Scotia (or more accurately Cape Breton) after 20 days spent trying to wrangle in as many of the Hoka Hey Challengers as I can. Since things have slowed down and the time between arrivals has shifted from hours to days; I've had more time to reflect on the Challenge, the people who participated in it and what it all means to me.

Now - I am not an eloquent speaker and am only slightly better at the written word but, I have something to say....

Although, I have an awful lot of work to do when I get back to the States, I have been unable to tear myself away from the finish line. Sure, I’ve enjoyed the salt air, beautiful scenery and the warm hospitality of Cape Breton Island; but that’s not why I stayed. I stayed because I am exceedingly proud of you, my challengers, and your efforts to reach the finish line. I stayed because I believe you deserve to see a familiar face when you come to the end of such a long and difficult journey and like the anxious parent whose teenaged child has been out past their curfew - I am relieved when you arrive home safely but am cross as hell for the risks you took to get here. (I’ve heard the stories and you kids worry me some.)

But, because tenacity is one of my stronger suits; I can identify with the drive that makes a person turn around at the finish line in order to cover the ground they missed by taking the ferry instead of the prescribed route. There is a certain resilience required to pick up the pieces and press on after hitting a deer, an elk, a wolf or an owl and I can appreciate that as well as the resolve it takes to stay the course - even after the deadline has passed and you’ve just come to realize that you are in it for the ride and not for the money. I’ve stayed because it is my honor and privilege to share the moment when you’ve crossed the finish line and have finally conquered the Hoka Hey Challenge.

On the other hand, there are a number of you who were robbed of that accomplishment when illness, mechanical problems or an armadillo has stopped your progress short. I know you still feel the call of the Challenge and I expect that when the broken bones are healed or the bike is right, you’ll be out there riding again. I’ve stayed at the finish line because I respect and admire the “reckless romanticism” that it takes to be a true Hoka Hey Challenger and I know you are here in spirit even if you couldn’t make it in person.

Finally, there are those who went home or cut the route because you ran short on time, money or inclination. You had the grit to join this mad cap Challenge and you gave it your best but; sometimes it is more honorable to know when to quit than it is to press on and most of you handled the setback with grace and dignity. I know that we often face our greatest disappointments when circumstances are out of our control and your dedication your family & job are commendable. I’ve stayed because I can only hope to reflect that in my dedication to the riders who are still out there on the road.

When talking to any one about the Challenge, I find myself calling you MY Challengers. I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point during the past three years, I’ve taken ownership of you all. It isn’t just because you’ve helped us to turn our efforts into a successful event (although I am grateful to you for that). No, it’s ever so much more. It is because your dogged determination, your compassion for one another and your courage and enthusiasm have enriched my life. You’ve taught me a thing or two about humility through your gracious acceptance of whatever the Challenge throws at you and I have a deepened appreciation of what it is to have selfless devotion and super-human energy. I’ve stayed at the finish line because you are not just my Challengers; you are my friends, my brothers and sisters; you are my heroes.

With love and respect,



  2. HOKA HEY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Beth you are the best, we miss you .

    Chapter 9044
    Cape Breton Harley Owners Group

  3. We love you Beth, you had true compassion when I cried because I had to go home for my job and ran out of funds to finish this ride. I was two check points away and you know how inportant that was to me to finish. Next year will bring a new ride and a new set of rules and expectations and I will be there and FINISH!
    Carla DuBois
    Warrior Woman #612

  4. Hoka Hey, Beth,
    i missed it this year, i will ride it again when jacob is older.
    stop in and visit if you pass through livington, mt

    coin #93 2010

  5. Thanks for all you do Beth. It has been great following all the brave warriors on this years challenge. I look forward to more stories from the road this year, and to hear who is up to next years challenge. Its a good day to Ride..
    Rock on

  6. Congratulations Beth, Chief Red Cloud and staff.
    A beautifully stated, heart felt, comment...to a bunch very adventureous motorcyclist...I will be more anxiously awaiting the next Hoka Hey, than any holiday...Is it possible for you to post the winners and some of the stories??? Can hardly wait for video!