Riders in the SOHC4 Relay Rally followed a meandering route that crossed the U.S. three times.
Maybe it’s wise after an 18-day, 5,500 mile ride to take a break from the road. But Jerry Griffin couldn’t stop thinking about “what if” and the next thing you know a 10,000 mile, six-month relay/rally ride was the talk of the on line forum for vintage Honda Single Overhead Cam Four owners. Yup, crisscross the continent three times traveling through the every one of the lower-48 states, and what the heck, ride the Canadian provinces, too. Ambitious if not a little bit crazy.
What started as a forum post back in December 2010 was ready to hit the road Saturday, March 12, 2011, from Daytona Beach, Florida’s Bike Week on the first leg of a triple transect of North America. To say the organization among forum members looked like a free-for-all is an understatement, but underlying all the discussion of hand-off dates and locations (not to mention where to stop for lunch) is a kind of wonderous, democratic, “we’re going to get it done” attitude. Some before the start, 250 riders had “officially” signed up to participate, but once regions for the ride were set and coordinators began pulling teams together, more riders signed on. Who knows the true number of riders who were ready to go, or how many more would join in “if” they have their winter projects back together and ready for a run. And just so everyone knows, you didn’t have to straddle a SOHC/4 to join the fun-- all riders were welcome. After all, the ride is really about having a good time and getting to know other bikers.
Yeah, it was more of a social than simply logging miles. Consider the ride mascot—Godzilla. Yes, Godzilla, the immortal beast made famous by the 1954 movie classic.
SOHC4 Relay Rally mascot, Godzilla!
The ride mascot, in the form of an 18-inch tall replica, was set to travel the entire 10,000 mile trip, handed-off from one group of riders to the next. The mascot was chosen by forum members after more than a little debate and a vote-- I told you it was all very democratic! But Godzilla? Members say first and foremost, it’s fun and add, Godzilla is a Japanese icon and is powerful and indestructible, like the bikes. And Japan is where the bikes came from. Making the entire trip with Godzilla, or Gojira as he is know in Japan, was a large SOHC/4 Forum banner and a log book for riders to sign and leave notes.
Beginning Saturday at Bike Week, forum member Wilbur Mummey, aka madmntmotors, his forum handle, was the first to sign and haul Godzilla into what may become a small piece of North American cycling history. He and a couple other members planned to head north on route A1A to the Jacksonville area, cross the St. Johns River by ferry and continue up I-95 to the first hand-off in Savannah, GA the next day. Wilbur rode his ’78 750K that’s been in his stable since 1986.
The rally/ride continued north through Columbia, SC, then Charlotte, NC (with a stop at the Rockingham (NC) Dragway on March 19 to visit and cheer forum member Sam750 who was competing that weekend). The exceedingly scenic section of the rally continued up through Blowing Rock and Maggie Valley, NC before meeting up at the next hand-off in Fancy Gap, VA near Charlottesville on March 27. Later dates and locations (to name a few and remain subject to change) included Nashville, TN 4/10; a special rally stop at Barber Vintage Motorcycle Museum 4/16; Oklahoma City 4/18 then on to Dallas (4/19) and Austin (4/20). The trip wound its way west through Las Cruces, NM (4/23); Phoenix, AZ (4/24) – those are some iron butt distances. Then it was on to southern California and turning north to San Francisco (4/28) before heading east again, running through the middle of the U.S.
This amazing relay/rally continued a tradition of significant past rides organized by SOHC/4 forum members, like the 2004 SOHC Easy Rider Trip—16 days, 5,500 miles following the route of the movie from southern California to New Orleans (and them some). Read about that trip and see lots of photos at www.easyridertrip.de.
Check back for more reports about this 2011 SOHC/4 rally/ride mega-journey; all made real by a group of ground up, bootstrapping vintage bike enthusiasts who’ll stop at nothing (save for a barbeque and beer joint) to get out on the road and share their passion with like minded riders.
See you down the road. – Steve Shanesy
Steve Shanesy shares his time between two 1975 Honda SOHC/4s; a 550K and 750K.