By: Audrey “Stormy” Paulus
When I saw a challenge with the word “twister” in the title spreading around Facebook, I had to check it out and enter. When it said it had to be completed in 9 hours, I wanted to do it in 8 hours. A few of us from Cool Biker Lunch and Rides participated and had a blast! It was a true challenge of endurance, with the combination of breathtaking scenery and endless twists and turns. I even learned about two routes that I never knew about, Rist Canyon and Devil’s Gulch. I felt like I was in a foreign country surrounded by green pastures and quaint little ranch homes. It was amazing!!
I interviewed the man behind this challenge. Graeme Wallace left his home in Scotland and moved to Colorado to pursue a life-long dream. That was when his Hogback Distillery was established, and his goal to make Scotch-style whiskey in America began. The name Hogback is inspired by the Dakota Hogback Ridge that runs along the entire length of the Colorado Rockies. Traditionally, the spirit for blended Scotch whiskey is sourced from the most independent distilleries throughout Scotland. This is the model followed by Hogback, with the bulk of their blended whiskey coming from other U.S. distilleries.
Graeme expressed his passion to me, “as someone that has been riding motorcycles for over 40 years in Scotland, riding curvy roads is what motorcycling is all about for me. Part of the reason for moving from Scotland to Colorado was to ride the mountain roads, so the first thing I did when I arrived four years ago was to buy a Harley Davidson Fatboy. It did not take long to discover four canyons, including Clear Creek Canyon and Golden Gate Canyon. Gradually, I explored more canyons to make a circuit.”
As Graeme toured me around his Boulder distillery, he explained how he came up with this twister challenge. “It occurred to me that others might enjoy the same roads, so I road each one in both directions to feel out which direction flowed the best. The idea kept developing and growing until I reached the current 9 canyon route with minimal overlap and maximum enjoyment for riding curves. The fact that the canyons cut through the Dakota Hogback Ridge and that my Hogback Distillery has the same name is a pure coincidence but an apt one.”
A few of the participants had some great stories to share about their experience:
“I mostly ride alone to ride at my own pace, but I’ve been itching to branch out and ride with others on some local motorcycle events. Luckily, I came across the Hogback Twister Challenge on the web and decided to sign up to meet other local riders and to ride not just a few but all of the canyons in the front range of the Rocky Mountains between Fort Collins and Evergreen.
With all events, you start the day on your own and end it on your own, but the in-between is all about riding with others. Arriving at 6 a.m. at the Hogback Distillery parking lot with 30 plus motorcycles with their lights on in the late dawn is a wonderful feeling. I’m not the only crazy one! It’s great to see all these other riders coming out to challenge themselves with 350 miles of twists and turns.
I have ridden most of these canyons as part of my quiver of local rides but never gave it a thought to ride ALL of them in one day. That seemed insane!
The first two canyons I rode alone. Then three Harley riders caught me in Lyons, and I decided to tag along for the ride. And what a ride it was! It was great to ride with a group of very experienced riders and looked out for each other. They had no idea who I was, but they paved the way for a great ride together! I hung on for a few more canyons and then decided to ride on my own again for a while.
My 2020 Harley Street Glide Special threw some engine codes at Meeker on the Peak to Peak Highway. I decided to continue on the route, which went close to a Harley dealership to stop by and see if it was anything serious. The codes resulted from some temporary glitch, and I cleared the codes and resumed the Twister Challenge at the bottom of Lookout Mountain, where I joined up with a group of adventure riders. Traffic was now an issue. My left thumb started to cramp from all of the clutching throughout the day in the canyons – much more than any average long-distance road trip. I got through Evergreen, and then the rest of the ride was doable since the traffic was less and the roads were freer of cages.
It was a great feeling when other bikers in the challenge were coming towards you, and you acknowledged them with the motorcycle greeting. Although separated by our motorcycles on the road together, we were experiencing the great ride of the Hogback Twister Challenge.”
“Sometime in July, I saw an event that intrigued me!! A twister challenge? I love the twisties and often go out of my way to incorporate some into my route when I get a chance to ride – just to ride. I wasn’t sure who was going and the 300-bike limit lit a fire under my butt. I signed up. I may have psyched myself out a few times, awaiting August 7th, but I have ridden more than one canyon in a day ride before this. I was going to complete the ride regardless. There was a 14-hour time limit on this 350-mile challenge. More than enough, I thought to myself. I decided to take an early wave to ensure I had plenty of time. As luck would have it, I knew a few people planning to ride, and I could team up with a friend. That always makes the ride a little more fun, in my opinion. Our wave was at 6:05 a.m. We turned on our Rever apps to track our ride and time as we left the parking lot. In my mind, the challenge was: to complete the ride unscathed and in the best time possible.
The morning light was just starting to brighten when we left the Hogback Distillery with 8 other bikes. We hit the first canyon before we had time to get warm in the safety gear we had donned. At first, the bikes were pretty grouped up, and we caught the last of the 6 a.m. wave, but soon small groups of bikes were traveling at their own pace, and my riding companion and I were just two bikes taking the twisties with ease and enjoying the ride. Lefthand, St Vrain, Big Thompson, Rist, Coal Creek, Bear Creek, Clear Creek, Golden Gate, and Boulder Canyons. The option to stop was not one we took, as we both wanted to see what time it would take for us to complete this ride. We stopped once for gas when we doubled back through Estes Park to just stand up and take off our helmets at the top of Lookout Mountain. We did make it back to the Hogback Distillery in 8 hours and 33 minutes – including both stops. Eight hours and six minutes was our riding time. Not too bad if I do say so myself. The Hogback Distillery put on a good event with BBQ, music, and whiskey at the end of the ride, making this a destination worthy of the ride itself. Next year I plan to ride it again. I may slow down and observe the scenery a little more. Maybe even stop for lunch somewhere.”
“It was dark as we turned our two Road Glides into the staging area at the Hogback Distillery in Boulder. We were preceded by a woman riding a Ducati sports bike. This exemplified the range of riders and machines gathered to accept the Hogback Challenge. The times, the turns (1,300+) melted away effortlessly as our navigator negotiated every intersection, every route perfectly laid out. It seemed we had only left the starting line moments before when we crossed the finish line. We now have stories to tell, friends made, friends met, and memories shared. It all made for a great day. I am looking forward to participating in this challenge next year, although I would like to suggest that the route be run in an exact sequential order, and if there is any variance from the route, the rider should be disqualified.”
“This challenge wasn’t a challenge to me, but just a fun day riding the canyons. We were in no hurry and even took an hour for lunch. If I do this challenge next year, I will make this a challenge and earn my prizes and certificate.”
Shirley Kuuipo Soares
“The Hogback Twister Challenge was exactly that, a challenge. It challenged my endurance, riding skills, and facing my fear of heights while experiencing Colorado’s beauty. It was an amazing ride with my group smiling every time we took a break and talked about what we saw through a canyon or over the lookouts. The Hogback Twister has is now a great addition to our yearly riding must-dos.”
“If I didn’t follow the couple riding in my 6 a.m. group, I would have been lost because the Rever app was making me turn at roads that didn’t even exist on the map. We had a great time riding the curves at fast speeds. At the finish line, someone had asked me ‘what was my favorite canyon’. I couldn’t answer because to me, it’s not so much about the road or the challenge from Point A to Point B, but it’s the people you ride with is what was important.”
Cheryl Lynn & Kui Bean
“The Hogback Twister Challenge was an awesome experience! It was fun, interesting, and of course, challenging. It was an unknown territory for us that turned out to be invaluable. At first, we didn’t think anything about doing it. We’ve never ridden the mountains or been on any long distance runs. Coming from Hawaii, the longest we rode was twice around Oahu. Not the same! We started just talking about it then all of a sudden, we began our journey to the Hogback! We made new friends, got some dinner whiskey and a cool shirt; we went to places that we will definitely head to again, and most importantly, learned a little bit more about each other. The Hogback gave us the confidence to push past our limits and grab hold of more challenges.”
From talking to some of the participants, each came away with something different from this challenge. Some discovered that their stronger than they thought they were, some found that friends watch each others’ backs, and some felt they are a piece of something more significant than they could ever be alone. I often wondered how many people can go through the same thing or see the same thing, and yet the experiences are different as night and day. That is pretty awesome.
I am sure some learned quite a few things from this challenge and are already planning on what not to do for next year’s Hogback Twister Challenge. I know I am.
Thunder Harley-Davidson announced today that due to circumstances beyond their control such as COVID concerns, staffing, and supply issues, they sadly must cancel their Annual Thunder in the Rockies for 2021. This will be the 2nd year in a row that Thunder Mountain has had to cancel, however, this publication commends them for doing what they felt was best for the community, as well as not settling on an event that doesn’t meet the standards of what attendees are used to.
Here is their post on their ThunderInTheRockies.com website:
THUNDER IN THE ROCKIES 2021 CANCELLED
We are heartbroken to announce the cancellation of the 2021 Thunder in the Rockies bike rally. This extremely difficult decision was made based on many factors including potential restrictions and entertainer concerns related to the most recent rise in Covid-19 cases. Lack of support due to supply chain issues and labor/inventory shortages throughout our vendor, sponsor, and business partner communities were additional factors.
All 2021 concert tickets purchased through our official Ticketweb outlet will automatically be refunded within 30 days. Any tickets purchased at Thunder Mountain Harley-Davidson can be turned in at the Thunder Mountain front desk for a refund anytime within the next 30 days.
The Forever Family Ride will still happen on Monday, Sept 6th. It is very important to the Thunder Mountain Harley-Davidson team to support Realities for Children and encourage our customers to get out in the fresh air and ride! Check-in and breakfast will begin at 9 AM at Thunder Mountain Harley-Davidson, kickstands up at 10:30 AM. More information can be found at www.ForeverFamilyRide.com.
We have extended our Bike Night series an additional week to hold the 2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America giveaway. This event will be our last Bike Night of the season at Thunder Mountain Amphitheatre on Thursday, September 2, 2021, from 6 PM to 9 PM. The raffle prize drawing will be held promptly at 7:30 PM and the bike giveaway qualifier drawing/key turn at 8:30 PM. You must be present to win for both drawings.
The 2022 Thunder in the Rockies planning is already well underway so mark your calendars, Labor Day Weekend (Sept 2-5, 2022). We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your support. Ride safe!
Substance use and overdose are consistently on the rise and it takes an army to fight back. With a team of Recovery Coaches and 3 recovery programs, they are doing just that. The Hornbuckle Foundation provides hope and support to people suffering from substance use disorder by assisting them in finding tools and resources to transition into productive and positive members of society. They provide sober living scholarships for those exiting residential treatment, run a transitional housing program for those in-between housing, and help people learn how to gain long-term sobriety using their lived experiences.
This year’s poker run is on track to be the biggest one, yet, with 2 starting points. The run ends at Dirty Dogs Roadhouse in Golden for live music, vendors (including Biker Down!) a silent auction, and a bike contest, all hosted by Uncle Nasty from iHeart Radio. All proceeds support Hornbuckle Foundation recovery programs and the great work they’re doing in our community. Pre-registration is open at HornbuckleFoundation.org.
On August 21st at Bandimere Speedway Morrison, we will attempt to break the UK Women’s World Record setter of 1,132 for the most women in a bike meet. This year we will have the honor of being escorted and traffic controlled for us by the Lakewood Police Department. A big shout of and thank you to the Lakewood Police Department! Are they ready for us?
Susan Udero, Director of Operations, also a Biker Comedian and producer of comedy shows, enjoys the combination of organizing a world record and making people laugh. It is when she is the happiest and feels it’s the most rewarding feeling.
Susan feels it is going to happen in 2021! Women have grown tenfold in numbers in the biker community.
We are also taking record #2 for the most women bikers in a ride. In 2019 we obtained a record in Colorado for the most women bikers on a ride, 465. 2020 was postponed due to the pandemic, so in 2021 here we come loud & Proud!
Everyone is encouraged to come to the outskirts of Bandimere Speedway on the day of the event and show us USA ladies your support. There is plenty of parking to witness the most incredible high of biker chicks rolling in hundreds for the 2021 World record. Sisters will be rolling in from NY, Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Florida, Arkansas, Utah, Las Vegas, Arizona, NM, Texas, Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming, North Dakota are rolling in like a rumble of thunder. Come on ladies, let’s show the UK how we do it!
Big Shout out to our Host Sponsor: Zaidys Deli,
Platinum Sponsor – Big Iron Sports:
• Mile High Harley-Davidson (Aurora)
• Mile High Harley-Davidson (Parker)
• Grand Prix Motorsports (Littleton)
• Triumph BMW motorcycles (Lakewood)
Our benefit is for Firefly Autism www.fireflyautism.org. Firefly transforms the lives of children and families living with Autism. We help them develop the skills necessary to give them a brighter future. At Firefly, we are helping the children discover the world and helping the world discover them. As stated by Jesse Ogas Director of Firefly Autism.
Guest Speaker, CEO Janet Cook of Big Iron, she is also a Rider! Janet is all about empowering women and making things happen in 4 stores in the Denver area! Big Iron sponsored our 2021 Royal Enfield Giveaway. 1st thousand ladies registered will be in the giveaway.
Guest Grand Marshall Elaine Appel, Jill Coulas/ Biker Life national writer of bikers’ stories nationally. Special Guest Joycelyn Cavender. Please join us!
Signed, Women’s World Ride Record. Go USA
The Salute American Veterans Rally Committee is proud to announce that the 2021 Veterans Rally and the POW / MIA Recognition Ride are returning to Teller County this August.
“The cancellation of last year’s rally was tough on us, both financially and emotionally,” said Ray McPeek, Rally Committee chairman. “We are excited about getting the Rally cranked up again, and we have nothing but praise for the City Council in Woodland Park for welcoming us into their community.
This year’s Rally will be a somewhat shorter, somewhat smaller version of what folks are used to seeing from Colorado’s largest annual motorcycle rally. “Due to logistical and economic issues on the heels of the worst year in recent memory, we have opted to run the Rally Friday afternoon and Saturday only,” said rally organizer and founder Jim Wear. “We have also eliminated a couple of features, including the Vietnam Memorial Wall, which we hope to have back next year.”
Wear and the Rally Committee are doing what they can to keep the Rally alive and hope to return to a full-scale three-day event in 2022. “Make no mistake, this year’s event will be an incredible tribute to our heroes, and folks will enjoy all the patriotism and camaraderie that they have come to expect from this event. “Wear said. “All of the usual fundraising activities in support of our local veterans will remain in place, including Red Friday, the silent auction, the POW/MIA Recognition Ride, and the collection during the mid-day remembrance ceremony. “Over the past 20 years, rally organizers have donated over $100,000 to local veterans in need and organizations which benefit veterans. “We prefer the homegrown efforts to the large corporate type charities. “Said McPeek, “Veterans 4 Veterans is one of our chosen beneficiaries as they help homeless veterans locally and are strictly a volunteer organization. “
Several important guests will join the Rally Saturday for the Remembrance Ceremony, including Ed Beck, World War II Prisoner of War held by the Germans, who cut the wire and made his escape to freedom during an allied attack. And Bill Roche, a B-17 waist gunner who survived TWO B-17 crash landings and was held captive by the Russians for nearly 2 months.
Live music, vendors, the traditional beer garden, and aircraft flyovers also highlight this unique event, which has become the largest gathering of veterans annually west of the Mississippi.
“The venue, ‘Memorial Park,’ is really beautiful and is suited perfectly for the ceremony, which is the centerpiece of the whole Rally,” said Wear. “The view of Pikes Peak and the surrounding landscape from the park is spectacular, and for those veterans and patriots who come each year in support of our heroes and each other, we are confident that everyone will enjoy the new digs.”
The Combat Hero Bike Build group returns to the Veterans Rally for the fifth year, with another presentation of a custom-built machine given over to a combat-wounded veteran free of charge. “The Combat Hero Bike Build crew are a dedicated bunch and do some great work, said McPeek.” We are honored that they continue to tout the Salute to American Veterans as their favorite event and a favorite venue for doing their great work.”
For the 34th year running, the annual POW-MIA Recognition Ride will thunder through the Rockies on Colorado’s POW/MIA Memorial Highway to Cripple Creek. While there will be no rally activities in Cripple Creek, the tradition of riding Colorado’s only POW Memorial Highway will continue. Many riders are expected to return to Woodland Park for the Remembrance Ceremony at 12:30.
For those Rally-goers who arrive Friday, support the Troops and get your FREE “Red Friday” T-shirt in Memorial Park beginning at 1 pm. The “Red Friday” shirt giveaway has become a Rally tradition over the past 15 years.
For more information on the 29th annual Salute to American Veterans Rally and the 34th annual POW-MIA Recognition Ride, visit www.theveteransrally.org.
Rider Justice is proud to announce our partnership with Four Corners Motorcycle Rally, an event with a storied past and an exciting future!
Founded by Ben Nighthorse Campbell – “The Harley-Riding Senator” – The Four Corners Motorcycle Rally draws riders from around the country. And, because 2020 was so hard, we expect this year to be bonkers fun, like a family reunion!
The annual event is held every Labor Day weekend in Durango, CO. 2021, Labor Day Weekend and the Four Corners Motorcycle Rally action will be on Friday, September 3 through Sunday, September 5 and the festivities will include:
- Stunt Shows
- Bike Shows
- Bike Giveaway: 2020 Harley-Davidson Street Glide from Quaid Harley-Davidson
- Million Dollar Highway Ride: Colorado’s famous highway includes 284 turns in less than 80 miles, running near old mining towns, over 10,000-foot passes and through the gorgeous San Juan Mountain Range.
Watch the official website for hotel packages, camping and the full event schedule.
A Rally with a Special History
Originally called the “Iron Horse Motorcycle Rally,” this event was launched in the early 90s as the brainchild of Senator Campbell, who was a lifelong rider and understood not only the vibrant motorcycle community, but also the economic impact of great rallies and rides. Sadly, after several decades of success, managerial infighting brought the event to its knees by 2017.
That’s when John M. Oakes, owner of Freeze Management, and friend of owner of Durango Harley-Davidson, Trevor Bird, purchased the rights to run the event. And they are people with big plans and big hearts.
The Four Corners Motorcycle Rally has a long history of fundraising for various causes. One of this year’s benefiting nonprofits is the Warrior Built Foundation, which honors the service and sacrifice of combat veterans and wounded service members by providing vocational and recreational opportunities. Learn more by watching this video. As well, Building Homes for Heroes as a national organization has gifted over 300 mortgage free homes to Veterans. Four Corners Motorcycle Rally with other community businesses is committed to raising funds to building a mortgage free home in the Durango area through various annual fundraisers until they meet their goal.
Oakes said, “This event has a long history of supporting our nation’s heroes. It’s one of the many reasons I wanted to grow it back to its original, proud roots as a destination rally for motorcyclists from around the country. The location is spectacular, everyone needs to ride to Colorado and hit the Million Dollar Highway.”
Scott O’Sullivan, founder of Rider Justice, loves the story and the cause behind this historic rally.
“There is no community on the planet more generous and heartfelt than motorcycle riders,” said O’Sullivan. “I am so proud to partner with John Oakes and Durango Harley-Davidson to help make this event amazing and to raise as much money for great causes as we possibly can.”
This Rally’s Got It All
While the main hub of the rally will be in Durango, specifically around Durango Harley-Davidson and the Million Dollar Highway Saloon, events will be held all over town and throughout the region, including:
- Sky Ute Casino
- Downtown Durango
- La Plata County Fairgrounds
- Purgatory Resort
Participants will enjoy Hooligan Racing, concerts, stunt shows, charity rides, bike shows, Wheelie Pig’s Hill Climb Challenge, a fishing derby, camping and more. Less than 70 miles away, Four Corners Monument enables you to stand in the only place in the country where four states meet: Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. You can also plan to visit the astonishing Mesa Verde National Park just an hour’s drive away.
Watch the official Four Corners Motorcycle Rally website for updates as our plans unfold! YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS THE PARTY IN DURANGO!
Unfortunately, despite some encouraging recent news about Royal Caribbean sailing again later this summer, as we hit the final stretch in the lead up to the 21st sailing of High Seas Rally, it is clear there remains too much uncertainty about ship capacity, vaccinations, and social distancing the deliver on our core mission of producing the most unique and entertaining Motorcycle Rally in the world. We felt it is important to make this call now so you have as much advance notice as possible.
The GOOD NEWS is that we have time to create an even BETTER Motorcycle Rally Cruise for 2022. If we have perked your interest in possibly wanting to join us, here is some information that might seal the deal!
1. The Drinks Are on Us – No alcohol expenses while on this cruise, all drinks are all-inclusive which is a huge saving for 2 people on a cruise
2. Great Entertainment – Trace Adkins has a conflict for 2022 dates, but stay tuned for even more amazing entertainment. Here are the bands that we have confirmed: Foghat, Molly Hatchet, Black Smoke Sinners, and Steel Rod.
3. Payment plans available to help you upgrade to better balcony rooms or suites.
On behalf of Colorado Rider News and BikerDown Foundation, a special Thank You and Congratulations to the Sober Souls, MC for 30 years in the motorcycle community. I personally want to let you know how much I appreciate all that you have done to help people with their battle of sobriety. Your support for BikerDown over the 10 years has never gone unnoticed.