McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • Online motorcycle group passes baton across world

  • On Saturday, Tracy Presnell rode 87 miles north on his M109 motorcycle. His destination was Concordia, and his goal was to meet with someone he only knew through Internet forums.
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  • On Saturday, Tracy Presnell rode 87 miles north on his M109 motorcycle. His destination was Concordia, and his goal was to meet with someone he only knew through Internet forums.
    The purpose of the trip was simple: Hand off a baton he received the previous week in Colby so it could continue its journey across the United States.
    Presnell is one of a number of M109 riders participating in Tag the World Baton. It’s a relay started, planned and carried out by members of M109Riders.com, an online forum for M109 owners and riders with more than 14,000 members worldwide.
    Presnell has been a member of the forum since September 2010. Forum members ask each other questions about motorcycles and share their riding experiences.
    “It’s the place to be if you own an M109,” Presnell said, “[But] there’s only so much of that you can do.”
    Presnell said Dave Bergman, another forum member, proposed a baton pass across the United States for forum members. The response from other members was positive.
    “Dave said, ‘Let’s do this,’ and others jumped in to help,” Presnell said.
    Forum members worked together to design and make the baton and banners. Narinder Singh, a forum member in British Columbia, Canada, started the relay.
    The baton traveled down the west coast of the United States, then through Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado. By the time Presnell brought the baton to McPherson, it had traveled more than 3,000 miles.
    “The whole path is unstructured,” Presnell said. “As it moves along, guys come up and say, I can take it next.”
    Presnell volunteered to pick it up from a member in Colorado Springs, Colo. The two met in Colby for the exchange, and Presnell brought the baton to McPherson.
    At each hand-off, forum members take pictures and often enjoy a meal and chat with someone who, in most cases, they have never met off-line.
    “It’s just nice,” Presnell said. “You converse with these people all the time on the forum. To actually meet them, have a meal, yak about the bike, it’s cool. You get to meet people you’d never get to meet otherwise.”
    Presnell said he had the baton for a week. During that time, he took pictures of it in Lindsborg, at the motorcycle museum in Marquette, with a local fire crew, and by the statue in front of the McPherson Municipal Center.
    He said others have taken pictures of it sitting on hay bales and tractors, and one person took it to the Hoover Dam.
    Page 2 of 2 - Presnell said the relay has not been without challenges. Members must ride their bikes to pick up the baton, so weather became an issue at the beginning of the relay.
    “Between snow and rain, it got hung up,” Presnell said.
    He said he made his own ride in 100 degree weather and got rained on.
    Other riders have experienced mechanical difficulties. One member’s bearings went out during his ride, and when Presnell handed the baton off to Bergman in Concordia, Bergman’s M109 was in the shop for repairs.
    Presnell said traveling long distances on M109 bikes isn’t easy because M109’s aren’t meant for long-distance travel.
    “Traveling 140 miles a day on a bike isn’t something everyone wants to do or can do,” Presnell said.
    Presnell said passing the baton across the United States is now just the first step. Once the baton reaches the east coast, forum members plan to ship it to Europe so other members across the world can participate.
    “I just happen to be one guy in the chain,” Presnell said.
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