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Press Release – Fourth Annual Smackdab Summer Solstice Run Expected To Be Largest Yet


Fourth Annual Smackdab Summer Solstice Run Expected To Be Largest Yet

LEBANON, KS — Saturday, June 23, 2018 will mark the fourth annual Smackdab Summer Solstice Run, a one-day, 675-mile motorcycle tour held between dawn and dusk on the Saturday closest to the summer solstice. The ride starts between dawn and sunrise at the monument marking the Geographic Center of the 48 Contiguous States, just outside Lebanon, Kansas. Riders head north toward a similar monument marking the Geographic Center of North America in Rugby, North Dakota, and must arrive by dusk. The event is not a group ride. Participants ride individually, travel at their own pace, and stop whenever and wherever they like. There is no registration fee; the only expense is the optional purchase of an embroidered patch, which is offered to verified finishers at cost.

The Smackdab Summer Solstice Run is the brainchild of Peter Zilliox, a motorcyclist from Kansas City. “It’s a very grass-roots, unstructured thing,” Zilliox said. “I originally conceived of the trip as something to do with my wife and a riding buddy of ours. The three of us had previously explored a lot of rural Kansas by motorcycle, and I was looking for a new adventure. But it was a quirky enough idea that I posted an invitation on an online riders’ forum, and a dozen others joined us for that first run in 2015. So, I had some finisher’s patches made up for everyone. Several prospective riders who couldn’t make the inaugural trip expressed an interest in continuing it as an annual event. The next year, a totally new crop of riders completed the trip, and then participation really skyrocketed in 2017.”

A total of 87 riders—eighty motorcyclists plus seven co-riders—completed the most recent Smackdab Summer Solstice Run last June. This year, participation is expected to be even greater. “Most of our growth has been through word-of-mouth and social media,” Zilliox said. “I’m amazed how many people have expressed interest in this year’s event. Online registration went live on January 10th, and less than a month later we already have more than 30 riders signed up.”

The ride starts twelve miles south of the Kansas–Nebraska border, just off US Highway 281. The solstice allows over sixteen hours to ride the 675 miles across Nebraska and South Dakota, then through most of North Dakota. The route follows Highway 281 north for 95 percent of the trip, until it turns west on US Highway 2 for the final 34 miles into Rugby, North Dakota, which is within 50 miles of the Canadian border. Just before dusk, finishers gather at the monument in Rugby to swap stories of the road and share a great sense of accomplishment.

“All types of bikes make the ride, even as small as 250 cc’s,” Zilliox said. “From Harley dressers to adventure bikes to trikes—any motorcyclist is welcome to show up and ride. It’s just an excuse to spend a day exploring some new territory on a bike, meet other bikers, and have a bit of adventure.”

For more information and photos, or to register, visit the Smackdab website at


This press release is available for distribution as a PDF file: Smackdab-Press-Rel_2018-02.pdf

New Alternative Validation Method

The past couple of years, a small number of participants have asked me how they can be counted as a finisher without being present at the sundown meet-up in Rugby. While it’s my firm opinion that the camaraderie of starting and finishing the ride as a group is an integral part of the Smackdab experience, I understand that some folks simply can’t hang around and spend the night in Rugby. Therefore, for 2018 a new alternative validation method is available for those who cannot be at monument when the sun sets. See the Riding Smackdab page for all the details.

New Photos Added

I finally got around to posting a bunch of photos from Smackdab ’17 that had been posted by members of our Facebook group. Thanks to Kent W. and Jay O. for permission to include their photos here.

2018 Registration is now live

The riders’ registration form for this year’s run is now available on the Registration page.
Last year there was some confusion about how to handle co-riders. For Smackdab 2018, the registration form includes an additional field to specify a co-rider. This should clarify and simplify the registration process for two passengers on one bike.

You can find the registration for here.

Smackdab Run #3 Grew Dramatically

On June 24, 2017, eighty-seven riders — 80 motorcycles plus 7 co-riders — participated in the third annual Smackdab Summer Solstice Run. This was by far the biggest and most successful Smackdab yet! The great residents of Smith Center, Kansas gave us all a great send-off with homemade cinnamon rolls, coffee, and juice. Rider also got plenty of trail mix for the road, courtesy of the Lebanon, Kansas Hub Club. Despite slightly cool temperatures, some strong cross winds, and light rain showers here and there along the route, riders told us they had a great time. Unfortunately, we also had one DNF this year, due to a charging system failure. (Come back and give it another go next year, Tyler!)
This year’s much larger crowd of riders showed where some minor improvements to the event can be made, and we’ll be tweaking the ride slightly next year in light of the great suggestions riders and local residents gave us.

Additional Camping Available for 2017 Ride!

The communities at the start and end of the ride are taking special steps to welcome Smackdab’ers to their towns!

On June 13, 2017, the Lebanon, KS City Council agreed to allow Smackdab’ers to camp for free in their city park Friday night. There are restrooms, but no showers. The town of Lebanon is only about 2-1/2 miles from the start point, rather than the 16+ miles from Smith Center, so it’s a very convenient location. A big thanks to Lebanon for their hospitality!

After the ride, the Rugby Chamber of Commerce are opening the Pierce County fairgrounds, just around the corner from the monument, for overnight tent camping on Saturday night. The grounds have free hot showers available for the Smackdab riders. This campground gets high reviews from the RV community. Thanks to Smackdab participant Michael Studer for initiating this request, and a big thank-you to the kind folks in Rugby.

Smackdab #2 Completes Run As A Group

Five riders completed the second annual Smackdab Summer Solstice Run. While this was a smaller crew than the first year, none of the original founders were able to go this year; the fact that others stepped up and made it officially an annual event is a success in itself. A big thanks goes out to Brian Krier for acting as Trail Boss this year. Brian reports that all this year’s participants rode together and completed the run as a group. “Five folks earned finishers patches yesterday. I don’t think the weather could have been better. Sprinkled the night into Smith Center, and a touch at the starting point, but not enough to get wet.”


Pre-Register Now!

There are only a couple of days left to become eligible to get your finisher’s patch at half price ($5, rather than $10). Simply register online at before the end of May. There is no cost or obligation to pre-register. If you’re not sure yet, pre-register anyway. You have the option of indicating how confident you are (or aren’t) of making the ride. Conversely, registering prior to the ride is not mandatory. It’s simply a way for us to gauge interest, have a way to contact prospective participants.

Your contact information will never be sold or shared.

Smith Center Supports 2016 Ride

Google Street View image
Google Street View image

The American Legion Riders in Smith Center have agreed to host a cookout dinner for Smackdab riders on Friday evening. Stay tuned for more details or call Stan Smith at 785.282.6644 for more info.

Stan Smith is the owner of the Buckshot Inn in Smith Center. He has asked to be our official departure motel. He’s a fellow rider and doing his best to promote the ride and responsible for arranging the cookout mentioned above, so please give him a call for your room Friday night. Call 785.282.6644 or visit