• The Riders
  • The Riders
  • The Riders
Reservation Racing: Day 10 The Switcheroo

After easily cruising home the night before the SHTF right before race time. Ryan’s bike who other than getting wet, which an old girl doesn’t like, Morticia threw a hissy fit. More to the point 84 year old bakelite material crumbled in the Mag. Of course Ryan had no idea what it was so gave it a herculean effort to get it started to no avail. Thus Kirk was to be on his own for the first time in the race. He did good. As Ryan says, he brought home one for the Res. The Cannonball requires on certain stops that the bikes be parked and on display. This is a great idea for the crowds who have gathered by the thousands in some cases to see the vintage bikes. It is a little tough on the Cannonballers who have to ride all day long and then snooze for a couple of hours. But yesterday was exceptional. This time we stopped at David Uhl’s art studio. He is famous for his vintage bike paintings. The party was just fabulous, the food was great and the welcome was superb. Thanks David!

The boys worked late again last night and the bikes are ready for tomorrow! Great work, guys! The great climb over the Rockies!

 
Colorado, USA
Written by Felicia Morgan   

There are many facets to the Motorcycle Cannonball Run. It's a difficult run, a challenge on all levels, and that difficulty is why it's called an endurance run, not a road rally. It's a long ride on any motorcycle but on a 68 to 100 year old machine, a 3,938 miles road can seem like forever. The Cannonball is known for it's challenging route and the endurance test is just as difficult for the rider as it is for the motorcycle. The geriatric machines just aren't used to the daily pounding they get and maintenance is a constant effort. The bikes need futzing with constantly, even as participants roll down the road, they are tickling parts to coax another mile out of their wheezing engines.

At day's end, the other phase of the constant effort begins. Some riders have pit crews who kick into high gear to repair what's rattled loose or cracked or broken over the course of the day. The solo riders simply do all the work themselves. One of our first Cannonball riders from Wisconsin coined the phrase "wrench, ride, repeat" and the mantra holds true today for all entrants. We have complete shops on wheels following along and some of the best motorcycle minds in the world lend their expertise to individuals on the route in order to help them see another day of mileage points. Parts are shipped from suppliers to the next hotel down the road and mixtures are adjusted to accommodate the route conditions for the day. Everyone lends a hand to help and it's the evenings where the true Cannonball begins. Twisting wrenches and telling tall tales in the temporary parking lot pits goes on into the wee hours as bonds of respect and trust begin to form. Our band of nomads share stories of their personal lives; the lives they stepped out of for a month or more to participate in the greatest organized antique ride in the world.

Motorcyclists everywhere dream of making a Cannonball run but right now, today in Colorado, USA, a group of hearty souls are making ready to climb mountains and reach heights that will challenge both man, woman and machine. The 11,990-foot Loveland Pass looms on the horizon and riders are prepared to take it on. The rewards come with each kick start of their motorcycles and the sense of accomplishment grows with each mile. Today is a new day.

 
Bill Wood: The Heat Is On
Written by Bill Wood   

Golden, CO—So there we were, sitting on a beautiful mountain road. The scent of pines was in the air. Insects chirped and buzzed. Clouds floated peacefully in a blue sky.

Riders head out in the morning fog.There was only one problem. The sweep truck we were supposed to be driving to our overnight stop in Golden, Colorado, was spewing out boiling coolant.

In pretty much every other respect, this was a great day for the 2014 Motorcycle Cannonball Endurance Run.

Today’s ride started in Burlington, Colorado, on the far eastern edge of the state. There, the landscape was still Great Plains flat from horizon to horizon. But a couple of hours into the day, we crested a ridge to discover an endless view to the west. And in the far, far distance was the unmistakable sawtooth shape of mountains.

Slowly, those mountains rose from the ground, eventually forming a solid wall in front of us‚ a wall that the Cannonball riders’ old motorcycles would be expected to surmount.

But first, there was time for lunch at the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum in Colorado Springs. This being Sunday (this was Sunday, wasn’t it? It’s kind of hard to keep track on the Cannonball ride), a large group of motorcyclists on modern machines turned out to greet and cheer on the riders making their way across the continent, from Daytona Beach, Florida, to Tacoma, Washington, on machines made 78 or more years ago.

Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum.After that, the true fun began. Riders wound through the amazing rock formations of Colorado Springs’ Garden of the Gods before starting a series of climbs that topped out over 8,000 feet. This being Sunday (yep, still Sunday, I just checked), these wonderful roads were filled with riders on bikes of more recent vintage, but none could match the Cannonball crew when it came to riding in classic style.

The final leg took everyone into the town of Golden for dinner at the studio of motorcycle artist David Uhl. Well, almost everyone.

Unfortunately, those of us on the sweep crew didn’t get to enjoy it. Instead, events, as they say, intervened. While everyone else was rolling in to the finish, we were dealing with a truck that overheated on the first serious Rocky Mountain grade.

Of course, it happened in the most inconvenient place‚ a stretch of highway offering not a hint of cellphone service. So we sat, watching the coolant recovery tank do its imitation of Old Faithful, geysering up impressive amounts of superheated fluid. We might still be there if not for our guardian angel, a tow truck driver named Dave who appeared to be patrolling the area for business (“Hello, would you happen to have use of a tow truck?” “Why, yes, as a matter of fact we do.”)

Dave hauls the entire Turnip Truck.Dave’s rig hauled out the entire Turnip Truck, trailer and the four motorcycles it was carrying, transporting us to a spot where we were met by the School Bus of Shame, which had already delivered its load of riders and bikes to dinner (yes, the dinner we missed, but we’re not bitter). Then we went through several complex maneuvers to transfer bikes and gear in growing darkness before consigning the truck to a nearby dealership (they’ll find it on their doorstep in the morning), and delivering the final load of bikes to their waiting riders and crews.

We’re not exactly sure how all this will play out in the morning, but in the meantime, there was actual news related to the Cannonball competition we’re all here to support.

First, the ranks of riders still retaining a perfect score now at 2,147 miles after we officially passed the halfway point of the Cannonball this morning, has shrunk to 38. Today’s losses included Byrne Bramwell, who did not start the day on his 1920 Henderson Model K; Stu Surr, who covered every one of today’s 249 miles on his 1926 Rudge, but arrived at the finish about a half-hour late and had 16 penalty points subtracted from his total; and Mike Inglis, who completed only 20 miles on his 1927 Harley JD.

Mike’s bike succumbed to a problem that has affected several of the '20s-era JDs in the competition‚ failure of the gears driving the bike’s generator and distributor. The problem appears to stem from attempts to beef up the bike’s electrical system to handle required lighting. The more-powerful modern alternators being used put a strain on the drive gears, resulting in premature failure.

Mike noted that his entire crew was aware of the problem, and that they planned to replace the gears this evening.

“They all said a prayer for me this morning that those gears would last one more day,” he said.

And while we were fighting a losing battle with the sweep truck’s temperature gauge, rider Clyde Crouch missed a turn and ended up next to this 1928 Henderson Deluxe along the roadside. Clyde was up and moving about, but medical personnel decided he should be checked out in a hospital tonight.

Meanwhile, Kelly Modlin, whose off-road excursion with his 1927 Henderson Deluxe several days ago resulted in a couple of broken ribs, continues to hold down a perfect score despite riding in pain every day.

Finally, there’s an amazing story related to rider No. 8, Joe Gimpel. Joe’s 1928 BMW suffered serious mechanical problems on Day 3. So the next morning, Joe packed up the bike in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and headed for his home in Florida.

So you can imagine the shock I got when I saw a No. 8 BMW in a gas station along the road from Junction City, Kansas, to Burlington, Colorado. It turns out that Joe got home, transferred his Cannonball number plate to his much more modern (although still antique) 1970 R75/5, then put in two 800-mile days on the road to catch up with the ride on our rest day in Junction City.

No, he can’t earn a score on the (merely) 44-year-old motorcycle. But Joe has joined the motorcycle sweep team to help riders along the way.—Bill Wood

Results
 
Stage 9 Results
Written by Felicia Morgan   

Photo by Felicia Morgan

Download the full results in PDF Format by clicking HERE.



Download the full results in PDF Format by clicking HERE.

 
Cannonball belles
Written by Felicia Morgan   

The Cannonball Belles are a gritty bunch of gals. Arriving from far corners of the globe, each came to slay her particular dragon and nothing is going to stand in the their way. One woman is from California, one from Florida, another from Hawaii and the last is from Italy. It’s been a struggle for three of the four ladies to keep their bikes running. Engine troubles have nagged the ladies and kept all but one off the road at various times over the course of the run. A mere 1-mile is what separates Chris Sommer Simmons’ and Sharon Jacobs’ scores after they each spent two days without riding at all due to serious engine troubles.


Chris Sommer Simmons

The second day out Cris came up with a request. “Don’t write anything weird about me,” she asked as we sat down to breakfast. I asked her what kind of thing she thought I might pen. “I don’t know, my bike’s not running. But I’m working on it today, it will be up again, soon.” I giggled and pointed out that had she not said anything, I’d not have noticed her 1934 Harley VD was disabled. It was another day of wrenching before she was back between the dashes and she’s ridden every mile since then so apparent she’s worked the bugs out. These days, there’s nothing but smiles as Cris makes the miles.


Sharon Jacobs

Sharon Jacobs was on the side of the road in Georgia when we came upon her and hubby Scott. He was watching the clock and nervously eyeing the road as she was deciding what to do about her seized engine. She had just gotten the news that morning that her brother had died. Scott had to leave in order to avoid penalties so we moved to shade to wait with her for the sweep truck to arrive. Sharon discussed the possible causes of her engine issues out loud while intermittently processing the loss of her brother. The next time I saw her, three days later, she was at a gas station with grease everywhere, changing plugs. Sharon is determined to learn all she can about keeping her motorcycle on the road by doing much of the wrenching herself. The 1936 Harley VLH has given her plenty of opportunities to practice but things seem to be running great now.


Claudia Ganzaroli

Claudia Ganzaroli, the Italian rider on a Moto Frera motorcycle, is in the middle in terms of points. She has ridden every day but one, spending the fifth day on the sweep bus, an experience no rider wants to have. I rode a short distance with her at the end of the day and explained the “wall of shame” requirement that befalls all who ride the bus. Everyone is asked to sign his or her name somewhere on its interior. It’s a kind of graffiti that’s reminiscent of the kids who tagged their school bus. Claudia’s English is broken and she struggles with the words and my Italian is completely nonexistent so our communication can be difficult. She asked where she was expected to sign and I told her anywhere she chose. She smiled, took the pen and reached out to sign my arm. Apparently a sense of humor truly can span language barriers. Since day five, she has made every mile on her special 1928 motorcycle.


Dottie Mattern

I ran across Dottie Mattern as she reached the finish for the day of rest. Grabbing her lapels, I told her that she is the only woman who has not broken down. She is currently running 16th and has a perfect score. She was ecstatic. She has ridden every single mile, every single day. The retired schoolteacher is a colon cancer survivor with a long list of accomplishments besides being an avid tennis junkie, a very accomplished rider, and now, a Cannonball participant. She will turn 70-years old during the Cannonball Run and besides seeing her in the business center of hotels after hours, working on her blog and a variety of other duties, she has also been seen by herself out in the parking lots, changing her bike’s oil. At one point along the route, riders were stuck in some pretty gnarly traffic and Dottie’s 1936 Indian Scout died. Riders flew past her in an effort to keep their own machines running but a few minutes later, determined Dottie arrived at destination intended unfazed with the Indian chugging along happily.

 
Bill Wood: Into the West
Written by Bill Wood   

Burlington, CO—Now we’re getting somewhere.

Today, the mileage count in the Motorcycle Cannonball Endurance Run reached 1,898. That means sometime tomorrow morning, we will hit the halfway point of our 3,938-mile, 16-day journey from Daytona Beach, Florida, to Tacoma, Washington.

Riders bundle up for the morning ride.We have traveled through the orange groves of Florida, the cotton fields of Georgia, the tobacco farms of Tennessee, the cornfields of Missouri and the cattle ranges of Kansas. There have been tough days, as riders have struggled through oppressive heat and torrential rain, two things that aren’t particularly friendly to old motorcycles or their riders. But really, all of that was the qualifying round. Now we’re ready to move on to the finals.

The days all blend together, so the changes sneak up on you. But after running through eastern forests and farms for a week, today it was clear that this ride is undergoing a transformation. Up until now, the biggest concern was staying well hydrated in the heat, and un-hydrated in the rain. But when riders woke up this morning in Junction City, Kansas, they were greeted by 38 degrees and dense fog.

Yesterday was the rest day, which meant many riders and their support teams had a little time on their hands. Many of them used it to scour every store in town for anything that might be usable as thermal underwear, which apparently isn’t in season yet (the most popular option? Sweat pants). As they gathered for the start this morning, some riders sported high-tech motorcycle apparel. Others, like Jerry Weiland, improvised, making ear warmers out of paper towels stuffed into the sides of his helmet.

Jerry WeilandNot surprisingly, the going was a little slow early on. And that presented a problem, since this was the longest day of the 2014 Cannonball, covering 313 miles from Junction City, Kansas, to Burlington, Colorado. But eventually, this turned into a perfect day for a motorcycle ride, with clear blue skies and temperatures just cool enough to feel comfortable in a leather jacket.

And the landscape only enhanced the experience. The back roads chosen by course layout master John Classen were empty of traffic and full of views, with arrow-straight asphalt disappearing over roller-coaster hills that draw you to the far horizon.

The small towns out here are different, too. In place of the historic downtowns of the East you find small collections of homes gathered around a couple of boarded-up businesses. The whole feel is more raw, more rugged, more Western. There’s only one thing necessary to complete the scene: mountains. And tomorrow, we get those.

But today offered plenty to like, including a homemade lunch served up by a volunteer group of local motorcyclists in the area around Hill City, Kansas. More than a hundred of them gathered at the Graham County Fairgrounds to greet the Cannonball riders and admire their classic machines. And at the end of the day, the Old Town collection of historic buildings here in Burlington offered the perfect setting for antique bikes.

Lunch stop.The biggest news on the competition front concerned a pair of setbacks and one comeback.

Scott Byrd, who had been perfect through seven days on his No. 25 1931 Harley Model V, suffered an engine failure 248 miles into today’s stage and had to come in on the sweep truck.

And the No. 22 bike, a 1934 Harley VLD that had been ridden by Dave Volnek for the first seven days, was back in the hands of its owner, Jeff Lauritsen. Dave originally was scheduled to serve as the machine’s mechanic for the coast-to-coast trip. But when Jeff suffered back problems on the way to the start in Daytona, Dave was pressed into service as the rider as well. Unfortunately, a head gasket repair made along the roadside by Dave on Day Five failed today, stranding Jeff 213 miles into his ride.

End of the day stop.Repairs on both machines were already well under way in the hotel parking lot this evening. But those mechanical problems dropped the number of riders having accumulated a perfect score of 1,898 miles so far to 41.

Meanwhile, the most positive story of the day concerned Buck Carson, the youngest rider in the 2014 Cannonball. Buck blew up his No. 3 1936 Harley RL in a big way on Day Five, and spend two full days gathering parts to repair the machine. The final pieces‚ replacement set of heads‚ came through last night, just as Buck and the Carson Classic Motorcycles team were planning to head out for a dinner in honor of his 23rd birthday.

Other young people may celebrate birthdays by staying out all night, but few would spend the overnight hours rebuilding a 78-year-old motorcycle inside a trailer in a hotel parking lot. That’s the party Buck threw for himself, though, emerging this morning with a machine that fired up for the first time just as riders were headed out on the road.

After some final tweaks, Buck rolled out of Junction City late, and babied his new motor through its break-in period on the Cannonball route. He motored into Burlington having completed every mile, although he was docked 37 points for arriving outside the time limit. And tonight, hopefully, he’s getting some much-needed sleep.

Tomorrow should offer the first of two dramatic stages in the Rocky Mountains. In the morning, we cross a final stretch of the Great Plains on the way to Colorado Springs for a lunchtime visit to the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum (you can catch the riders there beginning at about 11 a.m.). The afternoon leg will take riders along the formidable Front Range of the Rockies from Colorado Springs to a reception at artist David Uhl’s studio in Golden, Colorado (where you can see the riders beginning at about 4 p.m.). Along the way, we’ll climb from about 4,000 feet here in Burlington to 8,600 feet in Golden.

And that’s just the start. On Monday, this collection of 100 motorcycles made before 1937 will take on some of the highest passes in the Rockies on a stage that may determine the outcome of the points competition. It should also make for some great stories, so stay tuned.—Bill Wood

Read more of Bill Wood's adventures in the Cannonball on the AMCA site by clicking HERE.

Download the full results in PDF Format by clicking HERE.

 
Stage 8 Results
Written by Felicia Morgan   

Photo by Felicia Morgan

Download the full results in PDF Format by clicking HERE.



Download the full results in PDF Format by clicking HERE.

 
Stage 8: Starting off Foggy
Written by Felicia Morgan   

Photo by Felicia Morgan.

This is what the riders faced with departure from Junction City, Kansas this morning. After 311-miles we'll roll in to Burlington, Colorado tonight. We're looking for the sun.

 
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