Text and photos: Jeff DeBell
The ISDT Reunion Ride, formally known as the Leroy Winters Memorial ISDT Reunion Ride, is an annual event now in its 18th year. Started in 1997 by veteran Six Days rider Leroy Winters and multi-disciplined racing legend Dick “Bugs” Mann, the Reunion Ride is a casual gathering of America’s off-road heroes combined with off-road reliability style competition. In today’s terms, it is a two-day enduro with special tests run by FIM rules ridden by old guys on old bikes.
The first Reunion Ride attracted less than 40 riders, but after a couple of years the word got out, the event became part of the AHRMA cross country series, and entries these days hover around the 150 mark. The Reunion moves around from year to year depending upon which club is sponsoring it, and has generally been held in Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, the exceptions being Reunions in Dalton, Massachusetts in 2003 and 2013 and one Reunion in Ohio (which is where we’ll be again next year). We usually feel pretty good about having 150 entries because travel distance usually excludes a lot of folks who can’t afford the time off work or the expense to take a week off just to go to a motorcycle race. On the flip side, on any given year we will literally have riders from all four corners of the United States, including guys like 1975 ISDT vet Jerry Harris who’s come down from Alaska the past couple of years! There is always a Canadian contingent led by Helmut “Speedy” Clasen and we’ve had entries from Europe, South Africa and Australia. It’s a pretty unique event, and once you get the bug it’s hard to overlook it on your calendar.
The Reunion is a place to meet and ride with some of America’s off-road legends from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. The list includes Malcolm Smith, Preston Petty, John Penton and sons Jack, Jeff and Tom, Dick Burleson, Billy Uhl, Dane Leimbach, St. Louis champs Dave and Ray Mungenast, Ron Ribolzi and Ed Schmidt, the New England Ossa team of Don Cutler, Charlie Vincent, Dave Latham, Ron Webster and Marcia MacDonald, the Pennsylvania powerhouse riders like Ron Bohn, Jake Fischer and Paul Danik, Left Coast guys like Carl Cranke, Chris Carter and Jeff Hammond, upper Midwest champs like the Mastin family (Randy, Mandi and Cody), Charlie Williams, the Pacholke brothers, Ron Lamastus, and the list goes on.
As far as the actual Ride goes, it is as laid back or as intense as you want to make it. Guys without ISDT or ISDE credentials have to ride 60s, 70s and early 80s model bikes and are divided up by age (both bike and rider), displacement and riding ability. Bikes are impounded ISDT-style on Friday night and there is a dead-engine start on Saturday morning. The 50 to 60 mile Saturday loop is run with a very relaxed speed average so riders can have time to shoot the bull at the known controls and take care of any mechanical needs. Several timed special tests are run each day and this is where guys can twist the wrist for bragging rights on their buddies.
An awards banquet is held Saturday evening in a catered hall and several annual awards are handed out. The main focus of the evening is introducing all of the Six Days vets in the crowd and giving them a chance to tell some of their favorite competition tales. It is kind of like bench racing en masse and some of these guys are real comedians. It’s hard to keep a straight face listening to a Jake Fischer or Carl Cranke tall tale, especially the stories about “bending the rules” overseas.
Sunday starts with another dead engine start from the overnight impound and then a shortened trail course of 25 to 35 miles to accommodate the afternoon grass track motos. This is another highlight of the weekend as riders are broken up into 9 or 10 five lap grass track motos. When you’re not racing you get some great spectating and can holler at your buddies in the other motos. The ISDT vets get together for one final moto which usually has some pretty good bar-banging going on, and then it is time for the results and medals to be awarded.
If this sounds like fun but you really don’t want to do two days of trail racing on a crappy old bike, we now have the Legends Backroads Tour on Saturday which is a casual dual-sport ride with some of America’s racing legends, includes lunch and stops at other points of local interest. Last year was the first year for the dual sport and it was a huge success with over 60 riders led by John Penton, Jack Penton, Carl Cranke and Paul Danik, all of the Penton ISDT team.
The 18th Leroy Winters Memorial ISDT Reunion Ride will be held October 24-26, 2014 at the John Zink Ranch near Skiatook, OK. This is the site of the 1994 ISDE and we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the 94 Six Days. For information you can hit up the Tulsa Trail Riders website www.tulsatrailriders.com or the AHRMA (American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association) website www.ahrma.org and click on the Cross Country calendar. Info on the Reunion Ride and the Legends Backroads Tour is posted and entry forms available. It is a chance to visit with some of America’s off-road legends and have a little riding fun all at the same time. Do it once and you’ll be back.
If you can’t do it this year, we’ll be in McArthur, Ohio next fall which should give you plenty of time to drag that old Husky, Penton, Frontera, PE or IT out of the barn and get it running. Hey, you can also find us on Facebook now. Look for Leroy Winters Memorial ISDT Reunion Ride! Hope to see you there.