Dodging Tornadoes on the SOHC/4 Forum Motorcycle Relay Ride

Reader Contribution by The Sohc4 Forum
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(Ed. Note: The Single Overhead Cam Four/Forum, an online community devoted to Honda SOHC/4 bikes of the late 1960’s and 1970’s, loosely organized a relay/rally ride that triple-transected the lower 48 states and all Canadian Provinces. The ride began in mid-March 2011 and continued at elast into the early fall. Learn more and join the ride when it passes your area and beyond. )

You might remember the record setting number of tornadoes that ravaged the south in spring 2011. In the midst of it all, SOHC/Four Relay/Rally riders headed into the storm and kept the ride schedule on track. While no tornados were encountered during their seven-hour trip from Nashville, TN to Birmingham, AL, torrential rains were the order of the day. The payoff? A memorable visit to the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum outside Birmingham.

Forum members and relay riders Tugboat, Spanner1 and MidTNJasonF left Nashville at 6 am Friday, April 15 with no idea of the heavy weather they’d encounter. Rain, sure, but torrential rains and winds, not a clue. And little did they know that vicious tornados were touching down all around them.

It was quite a different story from the prior weekend when the Nashville crew met the Lexington, KY crew at Lake Cumberland, KY handing off the ride mascot, banner and log book. Fair weather and good times marked that ride.

From left to right: Irish Johny, Chicago Ben, Bill, Silverback (Chris), Spanner1 (Ray), Joe, Joe’s buddy, Me (Tugboat), Doug.

The drenching ride to Barbers “was the worst 200 miles” Tugboat had ever ridden. But arriving at Barbers and the tour proved to be a truly memorable experience. Sure, the planned and much-anticipated pace lap around the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum track didn’t happen, but a  behind the scenes tour made the visit special nonetheless. The tour was lead by museum executive director Jeff Ray.

And to top it off, the riders were invited to park their rides overnight inside the museum front doors due to the terrible weather. Who wouldn’t want to say their bike was part of the Barber Museum?

Check out this extensive photo tour of the amazing Barber Museum

Following the historic weather of Friday, the following few days were marked by fast progress as the ride headed west. John Baldridge. JTB to forum members, along with Kirk Pierce (kpier883) and Jason Farley (MidTNJasonF) did half an iron butt to move the ride along to Jackson, MS. JTB, leader of the Team South group reported Tuesday he was “still recovering” from the long miles.

From left to right: kpier883, JTB, MidTNJasonF, Spanner1, yo2001 and Tugboat
in foreground.

Some more hard riding from Arkansas bikers took the handoff in Mississippi and advanced the cross country ride to Little Rock, and Van Buren , AR. Credit Forum members Coke, Radam and Wixil for logging some heavy miles and assisting member Cody who encountered electrical problems on his leg of the ride.

As of Monday evening, April 18, 2011 the Arkansas crew had traveled north to Oklahoma before turning back south to Dennison, TX for the official handoff to team Southwest. The relay/rally ride was now getting up a head of steam as it cruised through Texas, then crossed New Mexico and Arizona in just a matter of a few days. Unlike the ride so far, now in big country, big rides were happening almost every day. It was a sprint to California and up the coast to San Francisco before turning back east and handing off to team Central Rockies at Spanish Fork, UT on May 2.

Check out the latest update to this amazing ride schedule:

It’s never to late to join in (even if you missed the ride through your area, the forum si still roganizing relays in 2012). You can jump on the forum and get involved, join the ride by clicking on the link at the top of this story.  – Steve Shanesy

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