A man identifying himself as Jim Red Cloud returned a phone call to the Homer Tribune late Monday morning. He stated that John Compton is not a spokesperson for Hoka Hey and doesn’t represent him or the organization.
• ‘It was over 8,000 miles of pure hell’
By Sean Pearson
Three days following the close of the Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge endurance race from Key West, Fla. to Homer, Alaska, the Homer Tribune received a call from a man identifying himself as John Compton.
Compton said he was acting publicist for Hoka Hey, as well as executive producer of the film of the race. He stated he was responding to my question about whether or not the death of a third rider had been confirmed.
“There have been two confirmed deaths, and we have spoken to the families of both,” Compton said. “We actually learned about it before the families did.”
Compton said he did not believe there had been any more deaths, as no more had been reported to them.
“We asked that all deaths be called into the Hoka Hey desk,” he said.
When asked about obtaining a list of finishers in order to establish if any riders might still be on the road, Compton said Hoka Hey organizers are fairly sure they have everyone “pretty much accounted for,” and have a good idea who won.
“We’re pretty sure we know who won, but we’re not going to announce it until next week,” Compton said. “All of the top finishers have passed the drug test, and now have to pass the polygraph.”
He said organizers would also be verifying speedometers and making sure riders made a couple of surprise checkpoints.
“The second guy who finished missed a checkpoint,” Compton confirmed. “He was disqualified.”
Compton also addressed other issues surrounding the race, including the lack of GPS trackers on bikes. Some bikers reported they had been told GPS chips would be installed on the bikes to keep track of them.
“That’s not exactly true,” Compton said. “We said from the beginning that there would be no GPS. That’s in the rules.”
He also explained that the proposed staggered start was ended by law enforcement in Key West, who told Hoka Hey organizers they had “13 minutes to get all our riders on the road.”
Compton said the rush still didn’t allow them to get everyone started within that timeframe.
“But at no time were these guys told to be stupid,” he said, apparently referring to those who reached high speeds jockeying for position at the start.
Compton went on to acknowledge participants’ frustration with routes, maps and instructions.
“I told some of those guys they needed to stop, think and figure things out,” he said. “We’re not just going to give away that half-million dollars.”
According to Compton, several of the organizers ran into trouble on the road in bikes, as well as trucks.
“We had a fleet of brand new Ford pick-up trucks, and we certainly didn’t think any of them would break down,” he said. “Not that I’m knocking Ford, they make a great truck.”
Despite the ongoing criticism of Hoka Hey organizers, Compton maintained that the real story is the “real, true-to-life Indian from Pine Ridge, S.D., his wife and her sister who put the Hoka Hey together.”
“What these people have done is truly amazing,” he said. “They have brought attention to the fact that there are 20,000 people on the Pine Ridge Reservation with no drinking water.”
According to Compton, the reservation’s water supply has been contaminated by uranium from a nearby mining operation. He said the Hoka Hey was organized as a fundraiser for the people on the reservation.
“There are literally thousands of people living out there in pasteboard houses with no drinking water. They have to buy bottled water,” he explained. “The Hoka Hey was always about drawing attention to the water problem at Pine Ridge; it was all about the charities.”
Compton said Red Cloud is a tribal lawyer, and grew up on the Pine Ridge reservation.
“He grew up without running water and never even saw a bathtub or shower until he got to college,” Compton said. “Now, Jim has everything he needs. His philosophy is to give back what you don’t need.”
According to Compton, Red Cloud, Beth Durham and Annie Malloy were just some “regular people trying to pull all this together.”
“In Nashville, we call it the three Bs: Balls, bucks and brains,” Compton explained. “Well, they had the balls, and they got the bucks. They just didn’t have all the brains part figured out yet. At no time did they ever think they would make money for themselves.”
In his role as executive producer, Compton said the Hoka Hey ride was filmed, and will be offered to TV programs.
“That gives us a chance to raise money and get water to these people,” he said. “We’ve tried going through the government, and we’re not getting anywhere. Now, I’m not knocking the government, but they got things like a war in Afghanistan and a $1.2 trillion deficit to worry about.”
Compton called the Hoka Hey a “success,” estimating some 2-3,000 people attended the July 4 celebration at Stone Step. Some locals attending the party have estimated anywhere from 400-700 partygoers.
“You need to be patting Jimmy Red Cloud and Anne and Beth on the back for what they’ve done,” Compton said. “Almost 200 riders have already signed up for next year, and we already have major sponsorship lined up. Now, understand that Homer won’t automatically get it next year. Y’all will have to bid on it.”
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