Friday morning, 220 motorcycle lovers will fire up their engines in El Paso, Texas and chart a course for Nelson. When they check into the Prestige Lakeside Resort on Monday, the riders will have logged 3,152 km and have officially completed the Three Flags Classic 2012 Tour.
“There are three or four premier rides in the United States and this is one of them,” says Jim Partridge, local organizers of the Three Flags Classic events that will take place in Nelson next week.
The tour was started in 1974 by the Southern California Motorcycle Association. The intent was to give those who enjoy long rides on two wheels an outlet. This year’s event will be the 37th such ride.
Before violence overtook many border towns in Mexico, the ride used to start just south of the American border. With the end of the route landing in Canada, the three flags of North America would have been crossed.
In recent years the ride has started just north of the Mexican border, winds through six states and picks a different Canadian finish line. Last year it was Penticton, this year it is Nelson.
“An interesting note about the 2011 Three Flags Classic Tour is the age of the riders,” says Partridge.
“The overall average age was 62 with the oldest male rider in his 80s and the oldest female in her 70s.”
From Hondas to Harleys and everything in between, this tour brings together a diverse group from all over the world. The participants are capped at 250 and at times they have had to use a lottery system to draw names of who can take part.
The riders and registered passengers will pull out of El Paso at 3 a.m. on Friday and must finish the race no later than 9 p.m. on Monday.
Along the way the riders will visit three checkpoints to have their passports stamped. If they complete the ride in the allotted time they receive a limited edition belt buckle and other paraphernalia.
Partridge has never taken part in the ride himself, but is an avid motorcyclist. He heard about the ride when the Southern California Motorcycle Association put out the word to the West Kootenay Toy Run that they were looking to land in Nelson in 2012.
Partridge knew about the ride — his older brother took part in it two times — and jumped at the chance to help. The retired BC Hydro electrician owns a Honda Gold Wing and a 1967 Triumph Bonneville.
Partridge — who lives in Fruitvale — says he is excited to show off the area to next week’s visitors.
“There are really some great rides around here,” he says. “The mountain passes around Nakusp, Revelstoke, Sandon, New Denver, Kaslo, the East Shore of Kootenay Lake are all great rides because they are on windy and hilly terrain.”
Partridge is still looking for volunteers to help check the riders in and is hoping local motorcycle lovers will come down to chat with the participants next Monday and Tuesday.
“People are welcome to come down and talk with the riders. They are a friendly bunch,” he says.
Participants will spend a couple days touring around the Kootenay terrain before heading back to their hometowns.
If you want to help out or want more information, contact Partridge at 250-367-9548 or firstname.lastname@example.org.