We recently ran a story about the man who won the 2013 Allstate Cross Country Motorcycle Sweepstakes. Surrounded by family and friends, Darren Devlin was awarded the customized Victory Cross Country by third-generation bike builder Zach Ness at Pennsylvania’s Thunder in the Valley rally.
But as they say, there’s more to the story. This one, provided by Allstate Insurance, comes from the winner himself, Darren Devlin, who recounts how he won and what he’s done since. Enjoy. – Motorcycle USA Ed.
Hello, I’m Darren Devlin. I’m from Johnstown, Pennsylvania, otherwise known as the home of the Thunder in the Valley motorcycle rally since 1998. Each summer, Thunder in the Valley attracts more than 200,000 riders and motorcycle enthusiasts alike.
Last year, on the last day of the rally, my wife Missy and I decided to take our three boys (Everett, 7, Sawyer, 4, and Sullivan, 19 months old) to check out some of the bikes and have lunch. While we were walking around, we stopped at the Allstate Rider Protection Zone. We were already big fans of the Allstate “Mayhem” commercials, so my boys and I were immediately drawn to the orange display bike that Mayhem test drives and crashes in one of the TV commercials. After getting our photos taken on the Mayhem bike and viewing some of the other custom rides they had on display, I signed up to win a custom motorcycle as part of the Allstate Victory Cross Country Motorcycle Sweepstakes Giveaway.
Needless to say, I was quite surprised to receive a call months later letting me know that I was chosen from more than 103,000 entrants as the lucky winner of that Cross Country. In fact, it still hasn’t sunk in yet! I frequently say my three boys are my good luck charms, and the reason I won this amazing bike and ultimately started riding again.
Growing up, I rode ATVs and snowmobiles, and then in my early 20s I bought my first and only street bike. I obtained my motorcycle permit and rode for a few years. But ultimately, I sold the motorcycle due to a busy work schedule and not having enough time to ride. My interest in motorcycles has never really gone away, but I just hadn’t pulled the trigger to get back on a bike or to look into purchasing a new one.
Because it had been years since I had been on a bike and didn’t have a motorcycle license anymore, it was time to renew my motorcycle permit. I then enrolled in the Basic RiderCourse provided by the Motorcycle Safety Program (MSP) and PENNDOT. According to the MSP, this course was designed to prepare riders for entry into the complex world of traffic. It consists of classroom and on-cycle instruction and includes a variety of learning activities. Classroom experiences consist of five hours of RiderCoach-led discussions and the utilization of interactive multimedia. On-cycle instruction is conducted
Custom builder Zach Ness (far right), grandson of Arlen, presented Darren Devlin with a custom Victory Cross Country at the Thunder in the Valley rally in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
Devlin, surrounded by friends and family, revs the engine on his new ride after winning the 2013 Allstate Motorcycle Sweepstakes. Only thing is, he hadn't ridden a motorcycle in years, so back to school he went. Here's his story.
on a paved area away from the street. The riding portion of the curriculum consists of approximately 10 hours of instruction. Evaluation for the BRC consists of a written, multiple choice knowledge test and an end-of-course skills test.
My classes were held at the Greater Johnstown Career and Technology Center. I’m familiar with this location because I attended the Municipal Police Officer course here in 1992. I arrived at class and found a mixture of 20 eager riders. During introductions everyone told their story and why they were there. To my surprise, I found that the instructor and other classmates were quite interested in my story! People were attending the class for a number of reasons. There were young riders, older riders, couples and siblings, all with a wide variety of experience.
The first night of class consisted of classroom instructions including some videos. We reviewed and worked as groups to learn about everything from riding risks, importance of personal protective gear, routine maintenance, basic motorcycle controls, and what will be expected from us when we are on the riding course. The second night was another night of classroom study and videos. At the end of the night we took a 50-point test. I’m happy to say that everyone in the class of 20 passed and was able to move on to day three of rider practice.
The third day of class was held out on the course. I arrived and picked out a class-provided bike, a Kawasaki 250. It’s a little bit smaller than the Victory, but it is a motorcycle nonetheless. We started out with some basics like walking the bike in neutral and then clutch control. We eventually started weaving through cones, coming to an abrupt stop, and shifting through gears. It was actually really fun. I’m happy to report that no one in my group dropped a bike!
The final day of the course consisted of more riding and then a riding test. I have to say I was a little nervous, but I usually tense up over tests. We practiced stopping in an emergency, riding over obstacles, swerving and changing lanes and turning a tight figure eight in a confined area.
After a few hours of practice, the time had come to take our test. My group of 10 riders all completed our testing and PASSED! What a relief! I am now a class “M” Pennsylvania operator and since I went through the course, I am eligible for a 15 percent discount on my Allstate motorcycle insurance.
I want to thank all of my instructors for all of their insight and coaching. We all learned so much and I would highly recommend the course to anyone, seasoned riders to first timers. I believe everyone would benefit from the course. I have been counting the days until this year’s Thunder in the Valley where I will be receiving my custom Victory from Allstate in front of my family and friends and cannot wait!
Who would have thought that one stroke of good luck would get me back on the open road? Ride safe everyone!
Devlin received the custom Arlen Ness Victory Cross Country at the Allstate Ride Protection Zone in front of family, friends and fellow rally attendees at Thunder in the Valley in Johnstown, Pa. on Saturday, June 28th. On-hand to present the bike was Zach Ness, “reality” TV star, grandson of the legendary Arlen Ness and custom motorcycle builder at Arlen Ness, Inc. as well as local Allstate agency owner David Getty.
Think you’ve got Darren’s luck? Visit www.AllstateMotorcycleSweepstakes.com and enter for a chance to win this year’s bike – a reimagined Victory Vegas motorcycle customized by Rick Fairless and a trip for two to Rick Fairless’ Strokers Dallas for a free custom paint job consultation, personalized by Fairless himself.