Tom Hudson works with the press room crew to produce The Dispatch during a typical work day. Parked in the alley behind the paper is his ride: a 2012 Dyna Switchback Harley Davidson motorcycle.
“I’m on my fourth bike in five years,” he said. “With proper maintenance, you can get half-million miles out of a Harley.”
Hudson will be taking some time off next week to ride 750 miles down to Port Charlotte, Florida, to group up with a gang of maybe 150 riders aiming to set the world’s record ride on motorcycles. It’s called the World Poker Run, encompassing some 3,200 miles across 12 states that will bring the riders to their final destination at the Buffalo Chip Music Festival in Sturgis, South Dakota, on Aug. 6. The nine-day festival that dates back to 1981 is billed as the largest music festival in motorcycling. The current record according to the Guinness Book of World Records stands at 3,123 miles logged across the United Kingdom. It will be Hudson’s first time to ride in this event.
“It will be the longest ride I’ve attempted within two weeks’ time,” he said. “We’ll have two GPS apps on our phones, and we’ll have pictures taken at every stop to confirm the distances traveled.”
Average miles traveled per day during the ride will be around 500. Bikers are encouraged to make sure their machines are up to the marathon.
The route will cross northern Mississippi, going through Tupelo and Oxford on the way to Helena, Arkansas.
Hudson has a biking buddy at work in circulation manager Mike Floyd. They even live in neighboring loft apartments on the upper level of The Dispatch building.
“I’ve been a biker since I was 14 years old,” Floyd said. “Tom and I rode together across northern Arkansas to Mountain Home once. We circled back around Hot Springs and returned home via Interstate 40 to Memphis.”
The Poker Run takes its name from the popular game of cards. Riders will each pull a card at designated points, or pulls, along the way. The winner will be determined in Sturgis.
“Whoever has the best hand wins,” Hudson said. “It’s a check, but nobody knows how much it is.”
Hudson started riding motorcycles in his early 20s upon the invitation of Calvin Jareld, with whom he worked, and it was love at first ride. Hudson first found out about the Poker Run through a biking buddy from Biloxi.
“I think his name was Corey,” Hudson said.
Hudson is looking forward to the ride of the year, if not a lifetime, but he’s preparing for contingencies that may happen during that long of a ride.
“It ain’t gonna be no vacation,” he said.