First riders finish Hoka Hey Challenge

Seven days and 16 hours after they left Key West, Fla., the first riders finished the 2014 Hoka Hey Challenge. Jeff Kohn of Florida and George Jackman of Idaho crossed under the finish line banner near the end of the Homer Spit at 6:15 p.m. Sunday, said finish line coordinator Annie Malloy.

Following them at 2:20 a.m. Monday was Billy Fultz and at 2:27 a.m. Kurt Kvennejorde of Norway. About 75 riders left Key West on July 20. Riders cannot use GPS or smart phones to navigate, but are tracked by satellite devices with USFleetTracking, a company that tracks longhaul truck drivers.

According to Hoka Hey’s tracking map, 14 riders total have arrived in Homer as of Wednesday morning, with another six in Alaska and one more approaching the United States-Canada border. 

Unlike the 2010 Hoka Hey, which also ended in Homer, riders are not driving for a cash prize and ride only for glory. Participants must ride Harley-Davidson motorcycles or other American-made big-bore, V-twin motorcycles like the Indian and Victory.

A crash about 4:30 p.m. Monday marred the event when Matt Klebe suffered serious but non-life threatening injuries. A car hit Klebe on his motorcycle near Mile 117 Sterling Highway at Clam Gulch.
Malloy said Klebe had compound bone fractures. Alaska State Trooper spokesperson Megan Peters said a medivac helicopter took Klebe to Providence Alaska Medical Center.

Kohn had been carrying a ceremonial object called an akicita, Malloy said. In Lakota Sioux culture, an akicita is a protector of the people. The Hoka Hey akicita has a carving in moose antler of the Hoka Hey symbol of a buffalo skull wearing a headdress and bandana.

“Hoka Hey” has been translated as the call of a warrior, loosely meaning “it’s a good day to die.” For the motorcycle challenge, the slogan is “it’s a good day to ride.” As in 2010 and the last three events, Hoka Hey is sponsored by the Medicine Show Land Trust of Hot Springs, S.D.

Today the Salty Dawg holds a party for riders and their families, and from 5 to 10 p.m. Kenai Harley-Davidson holds a party.

There also will be a party starting 6 p.m. Saturday at the Down East Saloon. Harley-Davidson riders from Anchorage, Wasilla and Kenai also will be coming to Homer.

Progress of the challenge can be tracked online at

Michael Armstrong can be reached at