It was raining buckets when as we sat in the Elks Lodge in Parsons, Kansas and the rain delay gave us a welcomed break in the schedule and time enough to sit and visit with the local folks who'd come out to see us. A very enthusiastic lady came and sat with the table full of support crew as we laughingly wrung out our soggy duds. Paula told us that she'd been reading everything she could about the Cannonball, studying the rules on line and watching the scores of the riders, but she was curious and had a bunch of questions to ask so we had fun sharing what we knew.
One of the last questions she asked was regarding the number plate for rider #40 that she kept seeing in photos on our social media pages. We all grew a quiet for a minute as we wrestled the lump in our throats.
Bill Buckingham held the #40 plates for the past two Motorcycle Cannonball runs and was scheduled to arrive in Atlantic City to pick them up again for the 2016 ride. On August 27, 2016 Bill was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident. He was a charismatic who never met a stranger and all of us considered him a friend. His absence has been felt deeply. The honor of carrying his number is being shared by a different rider each day along the route and will be given to his family when we arrive in California.
So when you see the memorial stickers or the #40 plate attached to a bike as we make our way across the country, just know that we miss our friend.