Stagecoach XX, the 20th Annual Last Ride of the Year - ride report

Harrison203

Staff member
Premier Member
IBR Finisher
IBR Staff
#1
It is amazing how broad the range of emotions felt in one 24 hour period can be for those of us sharing the human condition. Those that have done long distance rallies, especially the Iron Butt Rally, can probably relate to that. Saturday, December the 30th was one of those days for me.

I was having a blast hosting the 20th Annual Last Ride of the Year at the Stagecoach Café, sharing a cold but fun motorcycle trip with my two sons, and getting to see so many great old friends and meeting new ones. And then this December 30th ended with finding out that my friend and fellow IBR competitor, Peter Behm, had lost his battle with cancer.

Peter won the last IBR that I competed in, back in 2011. He finished 11 places ahead of me. Only a handful of riders in the world can understand how vast the difference between 1st and 12th is in the IBR. But you would never know that when talking to Peter. In a community of competitive riders that has more than a few boisterous, type A personalities, Peter preferred to just quietly ride his bike and finish well. He was one of the most unassuming, humble men you would ever want to meet.

Prior to Gerlachfest a few years ago, I had only spoken to Peter briefly at various IBA events. But at the gathering on the expanse and solitude of the Black Rock Desert, Paula, Peter, and I had a few moments of enjoyment together out on the playa sending hot lead into targets down range. The winner of the IBR and his bride were happy to take a few pointers on shooting from this southern farm boy and I was happy to help them out. I left that day of good fun in Nevada looking forward to having a lot more fun times with them. We always seem to think there will be more time, but the sad reality is that sometimes that anticipated time evaporates like the rain drops on the playa.

Making the most of the time we do have is one of the reasons that I love hosting the Annual Last Ride of the Year for my riding friends. It gives them an opportunity to renew old friendships and make new friends. To hug each other and say the things that don’t get said nearly as often as they should be said. This was the 20th annual meeting of the event that my friend Ray Fagan started. When his health got bad several years ago, he asked me to take it over and I was honored to do that for him. He continued to attend as long as he could. Ray was a man that understood that our time is limited and we should make the most of it.

In honor of Ray’s love of seeing older riders continuing to enjoy riding bikes, we still have an award to recognize the oldest rider to ride their bike to the event. Likewise, to honor his love of vintage bikes, we have an award for the oldest bike ridden to the event. But hauling your bike to the gas station across the street and riding it to the parking lot does not count.

Ray also loved to see new riders get into the sport, so we have an award for the youngest rider to ride to the event. Passengers are not eligible, because some of y’all are competitive and might strap a baby seat on the luggage rack just to get a plaque. And because the event started as a gathering of Ray's long distance riding friends, we have an award for the longest distance ridden to the event. We have never had to ask, but we do specify that you have to be able to produce IBA style fuel receipts for the ride you are claiming. We do the awards at noon and you have to be present to win.

It does not matter which brand or type of bike you ride to the event. If you ride, then you are welcome at the Annual Last Ride of the Year. We have riders on long distance rally bikes with aux lights, aux fuel tanks, and electronic farkles covering the dash. We have riders on touring bikes and sport touring bikes showing more miles on the odometers than most could hope to ride in a couple of lifetimes. We have riders on adventure bikes with 100+ HP and knobbies. We have riders on cruisers with chrome and leather. We have riders on sport bikes with carbon bits and sticky tires. We have riders on dual sports and vintage bikes and old school choppers and stretched drag bikes. We have riders on scooters, sidecars, and trikes too. It is cool to see cruiser riders checking out LD bikes and touring riders checking out adventure bikes and dual sport rides checking out vintage bikes. And all of them sharing stories and favorite rides with each other. Every one of them there shares the riding gene; they just enjoy and express it in different ways.

The Annual Last Ride of the Year at the Stagecoach Café is always on December 30th. When the weather is cold and the rain is coming down hard enough to flood the parking lot, like it was last Dec 30th, we might only have a couple of hundred hard core riders brave the elements and show up. When the weather is better, like this year, we might have over 600 riders come out to get one more ride done for the year.

As the event has grown, in addition to the traditional southern style home cooking lunch buffet, Joyce and the great folks at the Stagecoach Café have been gracious enough to add a breakfast buffet for the early risers that want to get a head start towards being home for New Years Eve. How they manage to handle the numbers of hungry riders that gather is beyond me, but they always seem to manage it just fine.

I don’t usually start posting names of who all was there for several reasons, but mostly because I don't want to leave anyone out and as hard as I try, I never get around to meeting everyone that shows up. Plus, while I am good with remembering faces, I am not so good with names. But this event was particularly great because my friend Rick Bailey was up and walking well enough to attend with the help of a friend. The last time I had seen him was when he was in the hospital after his accident. It was great to see him doing so well and coming back from such a long ordeal. The bitter sweetness of the day began when I found out that his wife Barbara has been in the hospital too. I am sure that they would both appreciate your continued thoughts and prayers.

There may have been more miles ridden to the event, or older riders that left before noon, but the requirement is that you have to be present at the awards ceremony to take home a plaque. The long distance award went to David Wrencher from DE with 1110 miles. The oldest rider was Eddy Scott at a spry 79 years old. The oldest bike was a 42 HD nucklehead ridden by Ronnie Cox.

The youngest rider was my youngest son, Matthew, at 17. He was on his V-Strom 650…a great bike that I bought from Bob Higdon during one of his rare lapses in judgment. Bob is usually wise enough to keep great bikes for a long time. But Matthew is pretty happy that Bob saw fit to unload the Wee Strom. I liked it so much that I bought a second Wee for my oldest son. If I had not needed the power for loaded two up capability from time to time …and wanted factory electronic cruise…I would probably have three V-Strom 650s in the garage. They are great all around bikes.

It was cool to have a group of IBR finishers in attendance again. A few of the regulars were unable to attend and they were missed. There was some good discussion in the parking lot about the upcoming IBR. Lisa Landry would appreciate the big grin I enjoyed using when asked about details of the rally that have yet to be posted. My standard line is always “Sorry, that is above my pay grade, you need to ask Lisa.”

Time is fleeting and all too soon riders are being called to their next destination. By 2:00pm, the parking lot of the Café, the parking across the street at the gas station, and even the lot at the Dollar General down the street, are empty of the motorcycles that filled them for a few hours. Their riders are heading home or making their way to the next stop on their end of the year adventure. Much food and fellowship was enjoyed and plans were made for future gatherings.

I hope each rider will savor the time spent with friends and endeavor to make the most of the all to brief opportunities to enjoy the company of others as we enter another year. Also, take the time to remember the good times with those that have passed on. Check in on their friends and families when you get a chance. If you knew Peter, or know Paula, let her know you are thinking of her and praying for her comfort during this very sad and difficult time.

My friend Bob Higdon posted earlier about the “quite man”, which is also the title of one of my favorite John Wayne movies. It was a fitting tribute to our quietest man, Peter Behm. May we all remember that you don’t have to be loud to make an impact or to be a good friend. Just be kind to people while doing what you love to do and doing it well.

Hope y’all will mark your calendars for Saturday, December 30th, 2017 and plan to ride to Stockton, Alabama and join us for the 21st Annual Last Ride of the Year with several hundred of your closest riding friends. Rain or shine, cold or just chilly. After all, we are the "World's Toughest Riders".

May you all have a blessed and happy new year and I look forward to seeing many of you on the road in 2017.

John
203
 

SeabeeCapt

Premier Member
#4
I plan on going, staying at Windwood Inn the night before and eating dinner at Street's. Anybody going from my neck of the wood, Memphis, TN?
Ride Safe, Think Fast!
Robert
 

JAORE

Premier Member
#5
Apparently there was a communications SNAFU with the restaurant. They can not handle the RTE on the 30th. The date of the RTE is Saturday the 29th this year. I'd recommend you verify with the Stagecoach.
 

Harrison203

Staff member
Premier Member
IBR Finisher
IBR Staff
#6
There was a snafu with the cafe staff.

I had confirmed the 30th date with them last month, but they informed me a few days ago that they could not do the event on the 30th this year.

My only options were to move the event to the 29th for 2018 ... or cancel the event this year.

I apologize for the late notice and I know a lot of riders make vacation plans around the Annual Last Ride of the Year being on the 30th.

I hope most of you will still be able to attend on Saturday, Dec 29, 2018 for the 22nd Annual Last Ride of the Year.

Thanks,

John Harrison
IBA#203
Host of the Annual Last Ride of the Year