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September 9, 2023

The morning started out with good weather accompanying riders on the first half of the 225-mile ride to Concord, North Carolina. Due to the forecasted rainstorms, riders were permitted to depart the host hotel in Greenville, North Carolina, as soon as they picked up their course sheets. The hope was that riders would stay ahead of the storm front, but that scenario was just wishful thinking.

With miles and miles of rolling hills and gentle curves surrounded by tobacco fields, cotton fields, punctuated by charming rural towns and the colors of crepe myrtles, this morning’s ride was just delightful. This rather gentle cruising mode didn’t last, though. Thunder and lightning warned riders of the eventual heavy rains which caused ponding and flooding along some of the route, as well as toppled trees and debris-strewn roads. Most riders had time to pull over and don their raingear, and some were fortunate enough to be in a spot where they could just wait out the set of storms, all of which passed after a few hours. By the time we arrived in Concord, North Carolina, the weather cleared, and the event hosted by Speedway Harley-Davidson hit full swing.

The dealership went all out to welcome the riders, support crew, and staff, serving up dinner and offering lifts in the service department to those who might need them. The Speedway H.O.G. chapter also provided great hospitality, and many from the local riding community turned out to see the antique bikes and meet the competitors, with some even making the trip over to Speedway from the Smoke Out Rally being held nearby.

Things didn’t turn out so well for the 10 riders (two of whom are permanently out of the competition) who weren’t able to start this morning, though. And a successful finish eluded those eight riders whose machines ended up on the trailers, as well as the rider whose clutch broke just a mile from the finish line. Compounding the day’s storm issues, the rain caused an assortment of mechanical problems with the old bikes, like water in the gas and soaked electronics.

The number of riders achieving perfect scores tends to drop day by day; yesterday’s count of 68 was reduced today to 58. The top three finishers, however, held their positions from Stage 1: First is Todd Cameron #99 with his 1909 Indian single, second is Dave Currier #1 and his 1911 Harley-Davidson single, and third is Alex Trepanier #109 and his 1912 Indian single.

Tomorrow’s 256-mile course will be one of the most difficult; not just because of the terrain, but the hours needed to traverse some of the mountain roads. It’ll be a long, challenging day, especially if the forecasted rain materializes again.