Local competes in motorcycle race

Published 12:07 am Saturday, July 24, 2010

NATCHEZ — Oscar Seyfarth may be retired from the United States Air Force, but he’s far from done taking thrill rides — even if they’re not in the air.

Seyfarth, 65, competed in the 2010 Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge June 20-26, a race of approximately 700 contestants from Key West, Fla., to Homer, Alaska. Although Seyfarth was unable to make the entire journey to Alaska, he still managed 5,000 miles in just seven days.

“We had 11 foreign countries involved that were bringing professional endurance riders,” Seyfarth said.

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“I’m not a professional endurance rider. I went strictly for the journey, and I enjoyed the parts that I finished.”

In addition, Seyfarth also said he rode to honor all veterans in the U.S. Armed Forces, past, present and future. He also said he was grateful for his support team for helping him have the resources to take the trip.

“I want to thank all my family, friends and everyone who invested into a golf tournament they put on to sponsor me,” Seyfarth said.

“The tournament ended up getting rained out, but they let me keep all the funds raised for the ride.”

Seyfarth said he could tell right away how tough the ride would be not long after he left Key West.

“It was labeled as a challenge, and it was a challenge. The biggest challenge was following the MapQuest directions they gave us,” Seyfarth said.

It was approximately 616 miles from Key West to the group’s first checkpoint in Ormond Beach, Fla. And the first day’s journey didn’t come without some interesting moments.

While he was riding through Florida, a buzzard dive-bombed him twice, striking him on the side and top of his helmet.

“Good thing I was wearing one,” Seyfarth said.

He also had to deal with a dog in the middle of the highway later that day. The dog kept moving into Seyfarth’s lane every time he moved into another one in hopes of avoiding the dog as he came up on it.

“He finally got out of the way as I slowed down to almost a stop. We played a game of chicken, and I guess he won,” Seyfarth said.

And those wouldn’t be the only encounters he had with animals. After making his way through Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas and Oklahoma, he arrived in New Mexico. While riding through there, he saw a golden eagle and a red hawk on two separate occasions.

“I was starting to find it amusing. It was only the second time for me to see animals, but there were two animals each time,” Seyfarth said.

From there, Seyfarth went through Arizona and up through Utah, into the mountains. As he was coming down, he saw a bull elk.

“It was 1 a.m., and when I first saw him, I thought I could ride under him. I knew he wasn’t that big, but he looked like it. As I got closer, he moved out of the way,” Seyfarth said.

But the early morning drive proved to be Seyfarth’s downfall, he said. While riding through the desert, he mixed electrolytes in his water, but kept drinking them after it got dark.

“I was retaining fluids, and when I stopped in Rock Springs, (Wyo.), I saw how my arms and legs were swollen,” he said.

“There were two choices: Either risk it and hope nothing happens, or come home in a body bag. My wife told me if I came home in a body bag, she’d beat me black and blue.”

Seyfarth decided he’d at least get to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation checkpoint in South Dakota. There, he got to visit Chief Oliver Red Cloud and present him with a hunting knife as a gift in thanks for his hospitality.

“From there, I turned South and headed home,” he said.

And he’s already looking forward to competing in next year’s race, he said.

“I was invited to be a part of the board in charge of organizing next year’s race,” Seyfarth said.

“If they run it again, though, I want to be a part of it again.”