‘Crazy’ motorcycle challenge supports area children
Dick Gudowski is used to hearing the question "Why?" Friends have peppered the Superior man with it since he decided to enter the Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge, a 10,000-mile, 13-day ride that kicked off Sunday.
Dick Gudowski is used to hearing the question “Why?” Friends have peppered the Superior man with it since he decided to enter the Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge, a 10,000-mile, 13-day ride that kicked off Sunday.
The former Douglas County sheriff’s deputy and owner of A-1 Amusements will travel the backroads as he criss-crosses the nation, mapping about 750 miles a day and sleeping out by his motorcycle at night.
“I thought he was crazy, to be honest with you,” said Dr. Justin Dahl, owner of Happy Tails Animal Hospital.
As Gudowski described the challenge, and the extreme vetting he went through to be selected, that perception changed.
“At first I thought it was a crazy, harebrained scheme,” Dahl said, but he realized it’s quite an honor to be chosen. “I think it’s great he’s doing it.”
The veterinarian is also sold on the group Gudowski is raising funds for as part of the challenge: Shriners Hospitals for Children.
“The hospital being my passion, it was natural,” Gudowski said. “And I’m hoping that when I feel like quitting, I’m not going to quit because I’m riding for the kids.”
Every shrine center supports a hospital, according to Paul Vizanko, potentate of Aad Shrine of Duluth.
“We transport probably 60 kids a year out of this parking lot, out of that van, to the Twin Cities hospital,” he said. “We also have the ability to send any patient in need to one of our other hospitals in North America at no cost to the patient.”
Gudowski has been involved with the Shriners since 1972 and is a past potentate of the Aad Shrine.
“That’s what we stand for, the kids and the hospital,” Vizanko said.
Semantics and an internet search started Gudowski on the road to the event. The challenge was one of the first things to pop up when he searched the meaning of “Hoka hey,” a Native American phrase meaning “Let’s go.”
“The more I read about it, the more interested I got,” Gudowski said. “When I looked at the ride it was a challenge, and I’m always up to a good challenge.”
Riders travel the course alone at their own pace on a Twin-V American-built motorcycle. Gudowski’s is a 2001 Harley Davidson Ultra that’s logged 20,000 miles. They avoid freeways and forego the comfort of hotels during the ride.
“Nine months ago, it looked a lot easier,” Gudowski, 69, admitted.
But both he and his motorcycle are ready for the road.
“He’s a tough old bird,” Dahl said. “He’ll do just fine.”
Gudowski has been riding for years and took some long rides this summer in preparation for the event. He said he enjoys riding alone because it gives him a lot of time to think.
“I feel proud, elated,” the former sheriff’s deputy said. “It’s a heck of an undertaking and when it’s over, the only thing waiting for me at the end of this 10,000 miles is bragging rights.”
That, and a hefty donation for the children.
Friends like Dahl and businesses, including Village Lanes and Widdes Trailer Sales, have stepped behind Gudowski, donating about $12,000 to Shriners Hospitals for Children. Donations are still being accepted at aadshrine.org/donation. Visit hokaheychallenge.com to track Gudowski’s progress (number 890) or more information on the event.