When I was asked to go on the Ozark Mountain Scramble I had a few questions, the first one being, "Where the hell is Ozark Mountain?" One Google search later and I learned that the Ozark Mountains take up a good piece of Arkansas. Why would someone ever need to go to Arkansas? Well, if you really like to ride motorcycles, the better question might be, "When are we leaving?"
I sat down with rider founder Derrick Harrison for some answers about his run, its origins, and its future.
Derrick, I see only one tattoo, no beard, no flannel or Vans, and a felt mustache glued on your helmet. How can I be sure you know anything about motorcycles?
I'm just a motorcycle enthusiast. I've been tinkering with bikes since 2002 when I bought my first one. I like all kinds but the cheapest ones are the ones I can afford so I like them best. There's a lot of bikes around here so I guess that spawned my interest in them.
Where are you from? What's your age? Are you graduating from high school any time soon?
I'm 28, but I look like I'm 12. I'm originally from Kansas but got transplanted in high school when my family moved to my current home for work. I now work for a company that prints and reproduces blueprints.
So let's get on to the run itself. Where did the rules come from, and what are they?
I got the idea for the rules from another event. They went cross-country on cheap bikes but it took weeks. Decent old iron—even Japanese—is getting really hard to find. Good 500-dollar runners really don't exist anymore. I felt I could change it up and keep the ride fairly local so I came up with the following rules:
1. 1980 and earlier, any make
2. 750cc or smaller to keep the speeds down and the pack closer together
3. $1000 or less all-in to keep costs fair and cheap
4. "Don't be a dick" was added this year when we heard you guys were coming. But I think everyone's broken that rule already, so there's really only three rules
The cost is the one that really mattered as I was broke but I figured even at $10-20-per-week over a year someone could get in the breeze if they put in the time. The deadline of an actual ride makes sure everyone's bike is finished.
How many OMS's have there been? What's the attendance for each one?
This was #2. On #1 we had five riders. We planned a decent route and got through it pretty well so I decided to do it again. This year 13 riders started and 12 finished. The one dropout was due to an accident. He was OK but a bit lumped up, so he decided to go home. I like that it grew some. I don't mind more riders but I'd be just as happy with five again. We have a good tim
Do you think people see the location and say there's no way they'll come to Arkansas?
Hell yeah they do. It's not the cool place. Not the Mecca of motorcycling. Even the local people know it's good riding here but I expect lots of people think otherwise.
Tell us how the event goes off.
Simple. 3 days of riding: 150-220 miles each day. Two-lane blacktop roads. Lots of twisty turns, not much straightline riding here. It's all very scenic. We stop a lot to check out the sights and enjoy being there. It is not a race but some guys ride faster than others so we wait up every 15-20 miles to re-group. We're spoiled so we stay in hotels at night. The riders pay their own way.
Where did you find the motiviation to start this event?
The guys on ChopCult pushed everyone to put up or shut up, so I put up. They said if your scene sucks then get off your ass and start an event at home. So I did. I kept it simple and did all the work myself. I started a blog and Chopcult fed it to their BlogDump. I asked anyone that was going to build a bike and do the ride to send me updates and I just posted them on my blog. The route wasn't hard, I just rode my bike all day on weekends and planned it with input from friends. I looked and found nothing cool in my area so I started something that I thought was cool. If someone really wants to ride they will find the cool stuff or ride anyway. The guys that can't find cool stuff aren't looking hard enough.
Are there trophies or anything?
No trophies, no sponsors. No advertising except events posts on message boards. Last year we made five shirts after the ride. The riders all split the costs. This year we'll do the same. No shirts for sale to anyone else. I don't need to make money to pay for anything, as it didn't cost me anything. The event is for the sake of riding and nothing else except maybe learning how to fix stuff on the side of the road with rocks and duct tape. The real trophy is that you built a piece of shit motorcycle with spare change and rode it hard through the Ozarks with a bunch of strangers, and you got it back to the finish line under its own power after flogging it for three days. All without a chase truck. You win!
Anything else you want to tell us all about the ride? Anyone you want to publicly humiliate?
I'd mention James' belly but I have a feeling he's not embarrassed by it.
I'll just say you either get it or you don't. I was asked to bend and break the simple rules by a few people to allow them to enter. I wouldn't do it. The rules are there and simple enough to follow. If you didn't understand why then I can't help you. One day you might get it. And go start a ride or a run or whatever you want to call it and stop complaining there's nothing to do.
You have just under a year to get a bike together… GO!
I'm really glad I went on this ride. I met some of the best riders I have ever shared the road with and they were all super rad people. I hope to see all of you again next year. I'm off to the scrap yard to find a bike…
Find more info on the Mulligan Machine Blog