The oldest motorcycle entered in the 2014 Motorcycle Cannonball Run was piloted for 3,719-miles across America by its owner, California resident Victor Boocock. The 1914 H-D was also entered in each of the prior MCRs, though neither of the first two runs proved to be successful for the British born rider.
Victor came to America from England in 1964. He and his wife of over 44-years, also an England native, had always planned to return to their homeland after retirement but that doesn’t seem to have worked out.
“We’ve had such a great time here we just keep putting it off and putting it off,” the cheerful Boocock chuckled, but in 2008 he decided it was time to return home and started making plans to ride a Cannonball Baker route as his “Farewell to America.” It was to be a personal, introspective journey spent quietly making his way across the land he’d come to love.
In the spring of 2010, the seasoned rider set off from New York aboard his trusty old motorcycle. He pointed his front wheel west and headed towards San Francisco alone, with no publicity or support. As a matter of fact, his wife was the only one who knew where he was and that was only through calls from the road when cell service would allow. The trip took its toll on both man and beast, but the pair arrived on the West coast intact.
Victor was already registered to ride in the Cannonball that fall, but by the time he’d made the personal cross-country trip, the geriatric motorcycle was exhausted.
“It was just wore out,” he said. “I couldn’t get it ready in time for the Cannonball, it was only a few months away and I’d beat it up pretty badly so I just had to tell Lonnie I couldn’t make it.” Instead he got busy getting his antique road worthy again. By the time the MCR riders took the green flag from New York in the fall of 2012, Victor and his faithful friend were ready to make the miles across the continent once more. And then disaster struck.
For over 30-years Victor says he had ridden the 1914 H-D with clincher tires and on the second day of the Cannonball, the new rubber simply rolled off the rim and wrapped itself like a snake around the frame. He says they had to cut it off with a saw.
“I didn’t really get hurt from crashing so much as I did from just fighting to keep the bike from sending me over the handlebars. I wrenched those bars so hard it ripped all the tendons off my bicep. I did eventually slide and got some road rash. It was really scary. When those tires come off, they come off right now,” Victor explained. He woke up the next morning with the bed sheets covered in blood and laughed at what the hotel staff must have thought after he left. He flew home that day.
The bike ended up on fellow California rider Dave Kafton’s trailer. “After a week I got to feeling better. I mean, it still hurt and all but I talked Dave into changing the tire for me and I thought, “What the heck, I want to ride,” so I flew out to Klamath Falls, Oregon and met them all and rode the rest of the way in.” Victor rode across the iconic and foggy Golden Gate Bridge to a hero’s welcome with the rest of the 2012 Cannonball riders.
Last month, for the 2014 MCR, bike #56 arrived on Daytona Beach with a new set of rims and tires. No more clinchers, yet on the first day of the run there were two flat tires within the first 60-miles. After the second flat, the bike had to be trailered but over all he enjoyed the ride and his machine performed well. During the first week of the run, Victor celebrated his 72nd birthday with fellow Cannonballers.
“It’s a kind of Zen to set off like that,” he shared. “I can’t explain it, but there is nowhere else in the world that you can travel for 3,000-miles and see such different scenery. The Rockies, the Salt Flats and the rivers, even the desert through Nevada is beautiful. I enjoyed it all and got to meet so many interesting people. I’ve just never had a bad experience on the road. I’m bit of a loner, I’m perfectly happy by myself, but there are so many wonderful stories I can tell from riding the Cannonball, like when I lost my wallet along the road and a farmer found it, or the little 84-year old lady with her walking stick I met who came out just to see the motorcycles. It’s all very touching. Simply amazing.
You know, after my father passed away in England I brought a bit of his ashes back to be scattered across the United States because he enjoyed it here as much as we did. Each time I’ve gotten so caught up in the adventure that I’ve forgotten to scatter him so this time I tucked him into my saddlebags and swore I wouldn’t forget. I got back home and there the ashes were, still in the bags. So, I guess I’ll just have to do the Cannonball again so I can remember to scatter him next time, eh?”
We at the Motorcycle Cannonball Run would like to offer our sincere congratulations to the 24-riders who achieved perfect scores for riding all 3,938-miles of the 2014 MCR. They are shown below in order of their ranking. We are proud of the work and commitment it took for each of these men to achieve their scores.
Photos by Felicia Morgan and Michael Lichter. Special thanks to Michael Lichter for allowing us to use some of his pictures.
On the third day of the Motorcycle Cannonball, riders rolled into a warm welcome at Coker Tires in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The streets were blocked off and antique motorcycles were nudged up against the curbs as riders checked in for the day and received the next day’s course instructions. Locals were all smiles as they admired the old iron and chatted with the owners. A boy on a skateboard was mesmerized and struck up a conversation with one of the Cannonball crew.
Bruce Redpath, a mechanic for one of the Motorcycle Cannonball riders, had his 1965 Montgomery Ward mini-bike with him and he used it to zip around the pit area. Bruce used to race on the Harley Drag Racing Association circuit, hitting speeds up to 165-mph but in 1985 during a race at the particularly difficult ATCO track in New Jersey, Bruce had an accident and lost his foot. Having the mini-bike with him to scoot around on made navigating the Cannonball events easier. He’d gotten the bike as a kid and his brothers, sister and assorted cousins and friends had all learned to ride on the 50-year old bike. It was part of the family.
The Tennessee boy on the skateboard fell in love with the bike and Bruce over heard the conversation between the 10-year old and his mother as he tried to convince her that he needed to have a bike like that. Mom’s reply tugged at Bruce’s heartstrings.
“No. We can’t afford anything like that, we’re poor,” she told her son. The boy pleaded, Mom walked on. The kid returned several times to admire the bike before Bruce finally instructed him to go get his mother. He told the wide-eyed boy that if his mom would promise to not sell the bike, he’d give it to him. And he did.
“Every kid should have a bike to grow up with, don’t you think?” the 52-year old Redpath told me. “I couldn’t think of a better person to have that bike besides one who really loved it and couldn’t afford it. It made me feel good to give it to him. His mom called me the other day to say he never gets off the thing; he just rides it around the house all day long. I feel like he deserves it. Shouldn’t all 5th graders have a bike?”
From 14 September 2014. Somehow I missed this one.
Every morning it is the same. It is like the circus opening up its tent. A new day. The night before every biker has been tweaking the machine, every morning dawns with a new hope for the day, new stories ready to be told. You see it and one day it hits you how much this morning madness is compelling, addictive in the words of Robb Priske. People come out to see just this morning energy where the bikers are revving their motors, shaking hands, and wishing luck. There is drama, too. The desperate measures some are trying to deploy to get their bikes running before the cut off time. The time when the sweep trucks leave the house and the game is afoot or abike…
Philosophical rider #16, Ron Roberts from New Hampshire, made all 3,938-miles of the Cannonball along with his beloved 1936 Indian Chief named "Acceptance." He is an author, a photographer, and a retired boilermaker. One morning as the run was in its final days I asked Ron if he was anxious to get back to his regular life. The question was greeted with a look of genuine surprise.
"Can anyone ever really go back to what was before the Cannonball? It can't be done..my life is forever changed. I will never be the same again," he replied. And so it is with all who have experienced the spiritual side of life along the backroads of America. The Motorcycle Cannonball may be the hardest antique motorcycle run in the world, but it is also the most gratifying.
The Motorcycle Cannonball Endurance Run may have ended several days ago, but we continue to get updates from stuff that happened along the 4,000-mile route between Daytona Beach, Florida, and Tacoma, Washington.
Today’s news came in the form of a phone call from Clyde Crouch, who was injured in a crash on September 14.
Clyde was riding on a narrow, twisty two-lane through the Colorado Rockies when his 1928 Henderson went off the road. He said he wasn’t going more than 15 mph when the bike hit a gravel dropoff at the edge of the pavement. He went down, and as he says, “I was the mattress between the bike and the edge of the road .”
As a result of falling on him, the bike was undamaged. And at first, it appeared the same was true for Clyde. Fortunately, though, Vicki “Spitfire” Sanfelipo, an EMT who was riding as part of the Cannonball support crew, happened along. Vicki, who is the founder of the Accident Scene Management program, became the guardian angel of this year’s Cannonball, watching over the physical condition of riders both on and off the bike. She was concerned about possible internal injuries that Clyde might have suffered and pushed for a trip to the hospital.
Eventually, Clyde took an ambulance ride to a Denver hospital, where doctors removed his spleen, stopped internal bleeding and treated him for a collapsed lung and five broken ribs.
The good news is that Clyde is out of the hospital and recovering at home. He reports that the recovery from surgery has progressed rapidly, and he’s now up and around, although the broken ribs are still painful.
Clyde wants to pass along his thanks to Vicki and Byrne Bramwell, who accompanied him to the hospital. Also, thanks to the other members of the Cannonball support crew, including motorcycle-sweep riders Gary Haynes and Dave Jones, along with the “School Bus of Shame” team—Jimmy Bradley and Jeff Boris—who recovered his machine. He was also thankful for Sheriff's Deputy Josh who made sure that the ambulance crew took him to St. Anthony’s Hospital where they have an excellent Level I Trauma Facility.
Clyde also wants to thank all of the other riders and support-crew members who signed a get-well card, along with Cannonball official photographer Michael Lichter, who provided a panorama shot of the lineup of bikes at the start in Daytona Beach that was signed by many of the riders.
“I just want to say thanks to everyone for their help and remembrance. I’m overwhelmed,” Clyde said.
But he had another message as well. He noted that riding a motorcycle, particularly an old bike, requires full concentration at all times, and that means making frequent rest stops.
The Sheriff's deputy on the scene indicated that he has responded to a number of motorcycle crashes in the tight, decreasing-radius corner where Clyde crashed, many of which have resulted in serious injuries.
“As I was riding along that road,” Clyde said, “I was thinking, ‘I should have stopped and rested a half-hour ago.’ Even though I was going slow, I was tired."
“I know that the Cannonball is different because of the endurance component,” he added. “But most of the time when we ride our old bikes, it helps to take a 5-minute break every 45 minutes to move around, stretch, check the bike, and talk about the route and next stop. After all, this is about camaraderie.”
Read more of Bill Wood's adventures in the Cannonball on the AMCA site by clicking HERE.
The truck, trailer and 4 Motorcycle Cannonball bikes that were stolen from the Murano Hotel in Tacoma, Washington on Monday night have been recovered. Still missing are several black and yellow tubs of spare parts, tools and equipment. Also missing are 2 engines: a 1928 Harley JD VIN #28JD1831 and a Harley J VIN #L19A12738. If found or if you have any information please call (936) 239-6615.