If history has taught the Motorcycle Cannonballers anything at all, it's that no two days are ever the same. And we relearned that fact just today. Over the course of each of the prior runs, we've come to expect the first three days of each event to be difficult and the 2016 took the word "difficult" and morphed it into something more resembling words like "grueling,"exhausting" and "impossible" as weather, machines and men fought to find a cohesive balance.
For Stage 3, however, things finally took a sight turn for the better. Mostly. It seems to take three days for valves as well as riders to get comfortably seated and settle down into an easy cadence. Things hit their stride by Monday morning as the first broken machine didn't hit the trailer until after 10a.m. Engine catastrophes were at an overall minimum by comparison, though the damp morning mist seemed to upset magnetos. Valve springs and carburation issues rounded out the list but a piston hole and a couple of flat tires added to rider's troubles over the course of the day. German rider Juergen Ulrich, however, was the exception when the engine of his 1914 H-D blew up. The Motorcycle Cannonball staff found out firsthand what breakdowns on the backroads feels like when the sweep vehicle broke down, despite its engine having been completely gone through prior to the start.
For Dennis Leggett of Texas, the run is over and he said his goodbyes as he loaded up for home. The riding Rinker family consisting of dad Steve and his twin sons Jared and Justin, all hit the road in the morning with the hope that Justin's #6 Indian would keep on the course. It did, and he finished the day with all the day with all the miles. Steve Norton's 1904 Rex struggled with the mountain inclines as did the 1913 Shaw ridden by #54 Brent Hansen. Frank Westfall, rider #49, had a close encounter with a diesel rig and his Henderson suffered physical scars that required some reshaping of parts because of the contact but he dusted himself and his beautiful bike off and carried on to cross the finish line in time. #18, Doug Feinsod from California, overshot the pavement and did a bit of off-roading on his 1913 Thor.
As the dense fog that engulfed the Alleghenies off in the distance slowly lifted out of the valley, riders wound their way through the mountains at an easy pace that afforded time for sight seeing from the saddle. A gently flowing river made its way along the roadside as the changing autumn leaves lent a splash of color to the wooded hillsides. We found ourselves lost in the sights of the scenic landscapes of West Virginia and Ohio. Despite the continuing struggles, it was a beautiful day of riding the backroads with our friends, which is exactly what the Motorcycle Cannonball is all about. Be sure to follow us on FaceBook at Motorcycle Cannonball Race of the Century.