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  • Bob LoCicero

Deb Pearson Rides In 10 Thousand Mile Hoka Hey Challenge

Deb Pearson and her 2011 Electra Glide Classic
Deb Pearson and her 2011 Electra Glide Classic

Deb Pearson, Marketing and Events Manager at Green Mountain Harley Davidson in Essex Junction, will cross one off her "bucket list" this August when she participates in the Hoka Hey Challenge: a 10 thousand mile cross-country motorcycle challenge. Pearson is riding in the Hoka Hey to see the United States and inspire others to do the same.

"I'd really like a chance to get acquainted with the U.S.," she said.

The challenge begins August 5th in Mesa Arizona and travels through 48 states, ending in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada. The route crosses the Continental Divide five times, runs California's Highway 1, and visits the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Deb will see Yosemite National Park and ride through Yellowstone. She will ride technical roads likes Deals Gap in the Smoky Mountains and Gore Pass, Colorado. She will see Sturgis during bike week and visit Las Vegas and Bourbon Street.

Pearson understands long-distance motorcycle travel. Her experience includes completing a three month ride through Chile to Tierra del Fuego at the tip of South America. On another trip, she rode 10 thousand miles from Colorado to Inuvik Alaska. On her honeymoon, she and husband, David Pearson, General Manger of Green Mountain Harley, did a three-week ride in Central America.

While she has traveled nearly the entire western coast of North America, South America and Central America, she has never ridden across the United States. This quest has brought her to the Hoka Hey Challenge.

The Challenge has strict rules. You must ride a Harley Davidson motorcycle, not exceed the speed limit, and camp. The exact route of the ride is kept secret and only divulged at checkpoints. Riders must carry a tracking device so organizers can verify they followed the prescribed route and winners must submit to a post-ride lie detector and drug test. GPS and support teams are not allowed.

This is the second year of the Hoka Hey Challenge. Founder, Jim Red Cloud started the Challenge as a way to "celebrate all that is good, pure and powerful in the warrior spirit." The spiritual aspect of the challenge resonates with Deb's background in marshal arts.

Deb is training for the event like as if it were a triathlon (she has competed an Iron Man competition before) and she is confident that she will complete it. "If you have faith in yourself and you can problem-solve, you can do just about anything," she said.

Her biggest challenge will be managing the heat of the western summer. She will face that extreme in the second segment of the ride, when the route travels through Death Valley in August. To help her endure, she will wear a special cooling vest.

The cooling vest is only part of her strategy. Many of the checkpoints are in high traffic areas - like the Buffalo Chip Campground during Sturgis - that will bog down contestants who do not plan their arrival time. Deb says that timing is key to moving through the checkpoints quickly.

With her experience, physical preparation and positive attitude, Deb feels she has a good chance of doing well in the Challenge. While the Challenge is not a race, the first 25 finishers on August 21 will divide $500,000 in prizes. Harley Davidson is giving a 2012 Harley to the top HOG finisher.

If she does come home with a prize, she plans to donate the money to the Moose Foundation. The Moose Foundation helps riders who have been injured in an accident.

Regardless of how Deb finishes - or if she completes the challenge at all - she is guaranteed a chance to live her dream. That alone is likely to be her biggest reward.


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