September 24, 2023
When 77 antique motorcycles rolled out of Virginia Beach a few weeks ago, each of the riders had their own hopes, goals, and dreams for the 2023 Motorcycle Cannonball. Most riders had only a vague idea of what challenges lay ahead; the road before them was yet to unfold. And now that the last day of the endurance run was here, the anticipation of those final hundred miles was palpable.
Stage 16, the final day of the run was only 105 miles, but still brought riders over some great roads. After leaving Palm Desert, the course guided riders through San Bernardino National Forest and through the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains. The fun began with Highway 74 at Seven Level Hill, which was made famous by its appearance in the opening scenes of the 1960s comedy film “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.” The road comprised several serious climbs and sharp curves, plus several steep descents with their own sets of curvy corners.
Riders continued to Doffo Winery in Temecula, where owner Marcelo Doffo has created a wonderful moto-space that includes his MotoDoffo wine, artwork, clothing line, and collection of over 200 rare and vintage motorcycles and scooters. We were provided with a nice lunch while enjoying the views of the vineyards and mountains. The course then took us to the coastline and down to Oceanside Pier, completing the coast-to-coast endurance run.
The Grand Finale took place at Josh’s Boars Nest, an Oceanside motorcycle shop a few miles east, where riders checked in for the final time and the checkered flag awarded to #99 Todd Cameron and his 1909 Indian Single. The last to check in was #138 Mark Zenor who’d maintained a perfect score throughout the competition as well as the Class 7 lead, until the last few heartbreaking miles when he had to load his 1938 Norton onto the sweep truck. Mark still “rode” the Norton proudly across the finish line, even though it was sadly sitting on the trailer.
Later that day, a cocktail hour and awards ceremony was held at the Mission Pacific Hotel in Oceanside. Before Jason made the main awards presentations, a few special awards were announced. These included the “Most Tires” award given to #109 Alex Trepanier and his 1912 Indian Single for five flat tires. Alex probably would have had more flats, but his course time was rather limited after the Single’s piston grenaded. Next was the award for “Most Tires Changed” given to Jeff Fredette who, at the first riders’ meeting in Virginia Beach, announced that he would change tires for anyone along the route, and he certainly kept to his promise. Additional awards went to #150 Tyler Golletti: “Broken Hitch,” #128 Donard Maniaci: “Slow Poke,” and #37 Jared Rinker: “Green Flag” who has now successfully completed four Motorcycle Cannonballs with a perfect score each time, to date the only rider that has made this accomplishment.
The “Spirit of Cannonball” award was presented to #52 Doc Hopkins who has competed in four Cannonballs on his 1916 Harley-Davidson J with wicker sidecar. Many folks do not realize how difficult it is to not only compete successfully in a Motorcycle Cannonball, but to do it with this type of sidecar attached to a more-than 100-year-old machine. And, three of his family members, plus Doc’s Top Fuel drag racer Rick Erdman, also competed on Team Doc’s this year!
Class winners are as follows:
1 – #86 Ed Contreras
2 – #4 Mark and Loring Hill
3 – #138 Mark Zenor
1 – #73 George Unruh
2 – #27 Gary Shorman
3 – #146 Matt Miller
1 – #117 Shannon Heling
2 – #61 Bob Zeolla
3 – #59 Micah McClosky
1 – #200 Andy Babister
2 – #32 TJ Jackson
3 – #178 Larry Luce
1 – #31 Mike Mooso
2 – #30 Keith Kardell
1 – #103 Andy Devine
2 – #52 Steven “EJ” Hopkins
3 – #53 Kersten Heling
1 – #99 Todd Cameron
2 – #1 Dave Currier
3 – #109 Alex Trepanier
2023 Motorcycle Cannonball Champion – Todd Cameron
The competition between Todd Cameron and Dave Currier was fierce, yet friendly. The two Cannonball veterans could often be seen riding the course side by side. And through each stage of the competition, everyone wondered whether Dave would keep the #1 spot or turn over the championship to challenger Todd. It wasn’t easy for either of these men to maintain the top two positions like they did throughout the entire run. Todd had to change both front and rear sprockets on his 1909 Indian Single not only many times throughout the competition, but multiple times in a single day! And Dave’s 1911 Harley-Davidson Single could not be left to idle in traffic or the belt would have burned up. Those who rode near him would see him either ride circles to avoid stopping at lights, or jump off the bike and roll it back and forth until the light changed or traffic cleared enough that he could jump back on and take off again.
Once the endurance run reached its conclusion, riders went through many different, and sometimes conflicting, emotions: exhausted and happy it was over, sad to leave the camaraderie and the new friendships formed, pleased with their bike’s performance or thinking about mechanical improvements for next time, ready to go home, looking forward to the next Cannonball—the entire range of feelings one can experience when an event of this magnitude is suddenly over.
How have the brands stacked up over the years? After this year Indian has now squared it up.
2010 – Excelsior
2012 – Excelsior
2014 – Indian Motorcycle
2016 – Henderson
2018 – Harley-Davidson
2021 – Harley-Davidson
2023 – Indian Motorcycle
It’ll be interesting to see which marque takes top points next time.
What’s next after the Motorcycle Cannonball? Stay tuned…
September 23, 2023
Today was another desert day as we rode very long stretches of the Mohave Desert through the remainder of our route in Arizona and into California. The first point of interest was Parker Dam, not nearly as well-known as its sister hydroelectric facility the Hoover Dam, but quite significant in its own right. Parker Dam is the deepest dam in the world with 73 percent of its structural height of 320 feet below the original riverbed. The dam spans the Colorado River between Arizona and California, and recreation opportunities are endless, not to mention the gorgeous view seen while riding over the span.
After crossing over the dam and entering California, riders followed the Colorado River for some time, going across parts of the Mohave Desert and watching for burros, like the signs warned. I’m not sure the burros were out roaming around today; it was very hot again—probably at least 100 degrees, and there were long stretches without seeing any other vehicles, buildings, or anything else. One important note about the Cannonball course instructions: distance between gas stations is indicated, and gas stops are suggested at various locations several times each day. Running out of gas in the desert is no joke, so riders made sure they kept their fuel tanks and auxiliary tanks full to the extent possible.
Riders proceeded to the 792,000-acre Joshua Tree National Park where the many varieties of cactus plants were strange and beautiful and unique to those of us who haven’t spent much time in this part of the country. Of course, Joshua trees, a form of yucca plant, featured prominently in the landscape. And there was a pullout featuring a cholla cactus garden, plus another with an ocotillo patch.
There were three Do Not Starts today, nine motorcycles out of the competition, and one on the sweep truck. It’s the penultimate day for the Cannonball, and on each of the 15 days so far, #99 Todd Cameron and #1 Dave Currier have held onto the top positions. Will they both achieve a perfect score and maintain first and second place by the end of the competition? Also, #103 Andy Divine has held onto third place overall as well as maintaining the Class 2 lead. All other points leaders maintain their positions, and the number of riders still holding perfect scores holds at 32.
The 240-mile route ended in Palm Desert this afternoon, and riders are doing final preparations for the grand finale in Oceanside tomorrow. However, a few changes have occurred. The very definition of the Cannonball is how to improvise, overcome and adapt—to take the challenge, and complete the miles! Riders have been doing this for the entire event thus far, and they will be tasked to do so once again for the end of this Cannonball journey.
Because of circumstances at the city level that are beyond our control, we can no longer complete our original plans that had been arranged for the Grand Finale tomorrow. We will not be able to end at Oceanside Pier, but have come up with an alternative place for the finish so that friends and spectators can witness the conclusion of this epic Cannonball journey. We will still make the trek to the coastline, and then take a slight detour to end at Josh’s Boars Nest, 3207 Roymar Road (Suite A), Oceanside, California 92058. Come and celebrate the finish with us between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. tomorrow! Although this is not what was planned, we will not let this hiccup deter one of the most epic trips in history.
September 22, 2023
Riders were given a later start time today, giving them a chance to get a little more rest, get a little more wrenching time in, or recover a little more from their evening at Sunset Station Hotel & Casino where we spent the night. Our first point of interest was Hoover Dam, a massive concrete arch-gravity dam in Black Canyon on the Colorado River between Nevada and Arizona. It produces enough power to be the seventh-largest hydroelectric facility in the U.S., and riders got to traverse the 1,900-foot Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge—twice! There are many opportunities for viewing (and photographing) the river running through the canyon below, and the mountains surrounding this engineering marvel.
A good portion of today’s route took us through the Mohave Desert, with a stop at Mother Road Harley-Davidson in Kingman, Arizona. The dealership really put out a nice lunch spread for riders, and the parking lot was packed with people that wanted to see the antique bikes as they rolled through the area. The Phoenix Roadrunner Chapter of the AMCA was on hand, as was the Mother Road H.O.G. Chapter that served up the meal.
After lunch, we rode some of the sections of Route 66 that the Cross Country Chase traversed in 2022. When Route 66 beckons, it’s hard to stay away. The mystique, the preservation of road art and neon signs, draws riders from all over, just to experience this magical route, and to come back again and again.
Another popular route with riders is the 48-mile Oatman Highway featuring the Arizona Sidewinder, an eight-mile stretch with 191 curves. The road can be dangerous, with narrow switchbacks and hairpin turns with no guardrails to prevent riders from dropping straight down the mountainside. It was challenging for antique motorcycles in particular, with a lot of 10 mph corners and steep climbs before topping out at Sitgreaves Pass. Fortunately, no bikes broke down along this section of road.
The reward for conquering Oatman Highway was the town of Oatman itself, where the city blocked off parking for the old bikes in front of the Oatman Hotel and the General Store across the street. Our schedule allowed plenty of time for riders to dismount, enjoy a cold beverage or ice cream, and feed the burros if they wish. I mean, you’ve all heard of the Oatman burros, right? These charming creatures are fairly tame, wandering the streets looking for food handouts. And they, along with the western façade of the town, provide the perfect backdrop for the daily bank robbery and shootout performances.
Our end-of-day stop brought us to London Bridge at Lake Havasu City where it seemed that the entire town turned out to see the bikes and meet the riders. In a much-appreciated act of generosity, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, along with GearUp Powersports and many other businesses, riders, and motorcycle organizations, got together and raised money to provide each rider with a $25 gift card for dinner at any one of the three restaurants at London Bridge.
There were three Do Not Starts today, eight out of the competition, three on the sweep trucks and two on riders’ own crew vehicles. For the 14th day in a row, #99 Todd Cameron and #1 Dave Currier held onto the top positions, but sadly, #92 Brian Pease’s 1917 Henderson G suffered a fatal breakdown and he’s out of the running. #103 Andy Divine has moved up to third place overall with his 1917 Indian PowerPlus, and has also claimed the Class 2 lead. Two other riders have fallen from the top 20: #60 John Bartman who lost a valve on his 1923 Harley-Davidson J and #45 Dana Lasher whose 1929 Indian Scout 101 suffered a loose connecting rod. John will try to effect a repair tonight, but Dana’s issue is not fixable on the road—it would take three days even at home in her own shop. All other points leaders maintain their positions, and the number of riders still holding perfect scores has dropped from 35 to 32.
For Stage 15, the Cannonball riders will make their way to California, visiting some very cool locations such as Joshua Tree. And we’ll probably see more burros while still in Arizona! There are no official stops tomorrow, but the public is invited to meet the riders and check out their antique machines from 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. at Embassy Suites in Palm Desert.
September 21, 2023
Stage 13 brought another gorgeous riding day. How did we get so lucky? There was a chill in the air as riders left Kanab, Utah, heading slightly northwest to our first stop—Zion National Canyon. The timing of this excursion proved to be on point, as Zion has the third-highest visitor numbers of all National Parks and it’s always best to get there early. Still, there was nearly a half-hour wait to get past the gate due to strict traffic control managed by park rangers. That said, the impromptu entertainment provided by free-range desert bighorn sheep helped while away the time.
The park itself features curvy roads surrounded by brilliantly colored Navajo sandstone rock formations and canyons, making it popular with not only motorcyclists, but hikers and mountain climbers as well. Motorcycle Cannonball competitors loved it, as many had never visited Zion before. One of the more interesting features of the park is the set of tunnels that the road goes through. The second tunnel is 1.1 miles long and very dark, especially for the older bikes with weak illumination. Working headlights and taillights are required for the Cannonball, but this year, the rules dictated that riders mount auxiliary lighting at the front and rear as well.
Our next scheduled stop was Lake Mead National Recreation Area, the largest water reservoir in the U.S. The lake is 112 miles long, but regardless, we couldn’t forget we were still in the desert. We were reminded of just who is in charge when rider #37 Jared Rinker’s rear tire on his 1928 Indian 101 Scout blew out while he and his passenger Rosie Pena were riding it. Yep, there they were, out in the desert near virtually nothing, without a spare tube or even cell phone service. Fortunately, a sweep rider and then the sweep truck came by, a tube was obtained from a second staff vehicle, and the repair was made. But almost as soon as they got on the road again, the chain snapped! After another repair, the couple proceeded to the end-of-day checkpoint, arriving with only two minutes to spare.
Our host for this evening was Atomic Motors Classic Cars and Motorcycles in Henderson, Nevada. The Las Vegas Chapter of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America also came out to meet and greet the Cannonball riders. What an awesome spot for a party where a bunch of gearheads are gathering!
There were six Do Not Starts today, eight out of the competition, and it was a busy day for the sweep vehicles with eight more motorcycles unable to make it to today’s final checkpoint under their own power. For the 13th day, #99 Todd Cameron and #1 Dave Currier held onto the top positions, and #92 Brian Pease has maintained third place for his fifth day. There was a change in the points leaders for Class 3: #30 Keith Kardell’s 1923 Harley-Davidson JD was one of the machines that took a ride on the trailer, and #31 Michael Mooso moved up to claim the top point position. All other points leaders hold their spots, and the number of riders maintaining perfect scores has dropped slightly to 35.
For Stage 14, the Cannonball riders will visit Hoover Dam, stopping for lunch at Mother Road Harley-Davidson in Kingman, Arizona, where the public is invited to meet the riders and check out the bikes around noon. The day ends at London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, and the public is invited from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
September 20, 2023
This morning we bid farewell to Green River to start on our longest day—297 miles. The first scenic road was the Lost Highway, a beautiful stretch of asphalt following the Fremont River. Some 85 miles later, we arrived at the first of several National Parks we visited today. Capitol Reef National Park was established over 50 years ago to preserve nearly a quarter-million acres of desert, and it features gorgeous winding roads and endless canyons, buttes, and monoliths. This is where we began to see different colors on the rock formations: purples, greens, oranges, and yellows. And they seemed to take on different hues as the sun crossed the morning sky.
Riders then headed south to Bryce Canyon, and along the way, some stopped for gas at the Grass River Mercantile in Koosharem, Utah. Built in 1873, the store is a throwback to when you could get everything in one place. They offered gasoline, snacks, clothing, and the store even serves as the post office for the town!
Back roads took us through farm and cattle country, with lots of cattle guards and one 13-mile stretch of open range where cattle wandered freely along the road. When we arrived at Bryce Canyon National Park, some of us were surprised to see that the road coming into the park was lined with various evergreens, such as the two Douglas firs that are over 400 years old! Once inside the park, riders proceeded a few miles to Bryce Point where we were treated with panoramic views of canyons and hoodoos (tall, thin spires of rock). Did you know that Bryce has the largest concentration of hoodoos on earth?
On the way to Kanab, Utah, our destination for tonight, we rode through Red Canyon Tunnels, a series of two limestone tunnels carved nearly 100 years ago. The pink, orange, and red tones come from oxidized iron—otherwise known as rust—in the limestone. We thought this was quite appropriate for the Cannonball’s 100-year-old bikes to pass through.
At our hotel in Kanab, the pits were quite active with riders and crews doing repairs and maintenance to the bikes that had already been ridden nearly 3,000 miles. One such rider was #45 Dana Lasher who was repairing an oil leak on her 1929 Indian Scout 101. And yesterday her gas tank was leaking—in three places—so she fashioned a bypass for safety (and, of course to preserve gasoline). Dana built her bike from a basket case and knows every component inside out. Watching repairs in the parking lot reminded me of something else that most people don’t think about: the trucks and trailers that haul the bikes to and from the start and finish and carry the crews the entire way also need maintenance, and breakdowns do occur. In fact, Dana’s hauler vehicle couldn’t make the miles any longer, so her wife Mary rented a Penske van to continue driving until the Cannonball’s conclusion.
There were 16 Do Not Starts today, seven motorcycles are out of the running completely and three bikes ended up on the trailer, plus two towed by their teams. For 12 days running, #99 Todd Cameron and #1 Dave Currier held onto the top positions, and #2 Brian Pease holds third place for his fourth day. Once again, all other points leaders hold their positions in classes three through seven, and 35 riders have maintained perfect scores.
Tomorrow is a big day with visits to more National Parks, and we pass through three states—Utah, Arizona, and Nevada—as well. Riders will then have their bikes on display at Atomic Motors in Henderson, Nevada, tomorrow afternoon, and everyone is invited.
September 19, 2023
Stage 11 was another magnificent Cannonball day, and in terms of great riding roads and magnificent scenery, even outdid yesterday. Highlights of the day were Colorado National Monument with miles of very challenging switchbacks and steep drops, producing 25 miles of pure awesomeness. The unique rock formations in the National Monument were just spectacular; around every curve was another stunning vista. Huge monoliths reaching up to the sky, deep canyons with formations starting at the bottom, and tunnels that can be ridden through made for total sensory overload.
After the monument, the course brought riders along the Colorado River onto Route 191, one of the best roads in America. This route was 40 miles of curves and fabulous views of both the rock formations above and the river below. The course brought riders into Moab, Utah, a fun little city that offers a wealth of funky shops and cute cafes. This is where most riders filled both their tanks and their tummies before proceeding to the next destination just north of Moab: Arches National Park.
Arches is so popular that advance, timed reservations are required, and the lines to get in can be quite long. But the wait is well worth it. We rode through only a small section of the park, around 15 miles, but we did get to pass through a good selection of the more than 2,000 arches spread across 120 square miles. These fascinating formations lie on top of an underground salt bed, which, in combination with erosion, compression, and other feats of Mother Nature, resulted in these unique displays.
Today’s elevation went from 4,500 feet to 6,800 feet, and the antique low-horsepower bikes sure felt it. Yesterday, due to the severe elevation changes, #99 Todd Cameron changed out both the front and rear sprockets several times on his 1909 Indian Single, the oldest machine in this year’s Cannonball, just to complete the ascent to Monarch Pass. He also swapped out the valve and guide with a spare he carried. And there was lots of peddling! Today, he only had to change out his sprockets once. Winning!
There were eight Do Not Starts today, seven motorcycles are out of the run completely and one bike ended up on the trailer. For 11 days running, #99 Todd Cameron and #1 Dave Currier held onto the top positions, and #2 Brian Pease holds third place for his third day. Once again, all other points leaders hold their positions in classes three through seven, and 36 riders, same as yesterday, have maintained perfect scores.
Most riders are saying that today was the best riding day, and those who have participated in prior Motorcycle Cannonball or Cross Country Chase endurance runs commented that this year’s Cannonball was the best of all the events since their inception. Tomorrow is the longest day of this competition at 297 miles, starting in our current location of Green River, Utah, and ending in Kanab, Utah. And if you thought the roads and scenery over the past few days were awesome, just wait. We’re gonna blow your mind every day!
September 18, 2023
Today, Stage 10 started with a bang—literally! Just before the Stage 1 departure from the hotel in Colorado Springs, a friend of some of the riders shot off a cannon, for the Cannonball, from the back of his vintage pickup truck. And the day only got better from there.
The route brought riders through the most spectacular scenery of the Cannonball so far, with long stretches of road following the curves of the Gunnison River and its lakes and reservoirs, passing through various national recreation areas. There were steep ascents and descents, and the singles strove mightily to reach the top of each summit along the route.
A highlight of the day included the short but very narrow, curvy one-way road along Skyline Drive, which offered no guardrails or shoulders. It was a struggle to enjoy the surrounding mountains while keeping one’s eyes on the road.
Next was a real treat: Jason had arranged with the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park staff to allow riders to traverse the pedestrian bridge over the park’s pedestrian bridge. Royal Gorge is a canyon of the Arkansas River, and is 1,250 feet at its deepest. Public vehicles of any kind are never allowed over the bridge, so this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for riders to trundle over the wooden boards. The bridge is nearly a quarter mile in length, and the views on either side are remarkable, with the Arkansas River flowing through the gorge below and the mountains and valleys in the distance.
The next leg of today’s journey brought riders to Monarch Pass, which at 11, 312 feet is the highest elevation riders will experience with this edition of the Motorcycle Cannonball. While fighting the wind chill at the top, we met Cannonball fans Lois and Dennis House who showed us the beautiful quilt that Lois’s sister-in-law made to honor the couple’s love of the Cannonball. The Houses live in Texas but summer in Colorado, so any time the Cannonball passes by, they make sure to stop along the route and cheer the riders on. This tribute to the Cannonball really drove home what this event means not only to the riders, but to its many fans and followers.
Between Monarch Pass and our destination of Montrose, Colorado, road construction caused extensive delays. Riders sat for up to an hour waiting for traffic to clear. However, the spate of raindrops that fell had given way to clear skies with just a touch of coolness in the air, and with the backdrop of spectacular snow-capped mountains to admire, there were actually few complaints.
The City of Montrose greeted us with a block party at Centennial Park, complete with food trucks where each rider enjoyed a meal of their choice, courtesy of the city. The community came out in full force to admire the antique machines, chat with the riders, and take tons of photos. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the vibe, the food, and talking about their bikes with folks from Montrose and beyond.
There were 13 Do Not Starts today, and three motorcycles took a ride on the trailer. For the 10th day straight, #99 Todd Cameron and #1 Dave Currier held onto the top positions, and #2 Brian Pease holds third place for his second day. Once again, all other points leaders hold their positions in classes three through seven, and 36 riders, down from yesterday’s 38, have maintained perfect scores.
Tomorrow, Stage 11 will take riders out the western side of the Rockies and into the high desert, ending the day in the small city of Green River, Utah. Westward ho!
September 17, 2023
Today’s ride from Garden City, Kansas, to Colorado Springs, Colorado, was a challenging one, but not in the way most would expect. It was a test of fuel management, as gas stations were spread out further than any other day of the Cannonball so far. The great majority, if not all, of the riders carry auxiliary fuel containers because the tiny gas tanks in some of the bikes will sometimes not allow riders to reach the next gas station. In fact, most of the riders that stopped on the side of the road were refilling their tanks rather than doing any serious repairs. Riders can expect fuel management to be of ever-increasing importance as we progress westward, and gas stations will be fewer and farther between.
The first hundred miles this morning were chilly ones, with temperatures in the low 50s. Out came the jackets and gloves, not to be packed away until later this afternoon. Our first stop was at the welcome center in Lamar, Colorado, where the City of Lamar, in conjunction with members of the local Christian Motorcyclists Association, hosted riders as well as their crews for lunch and respite before heading farther west. Lamar has a fascinating history, beginning with the theft of a train station from private property three miles east of the city. The station was moved to Lamar, which was fortuitous for the city which began to prosper with the addition of the depot and a train stop, eventually becoming the county seat of Prowers County.
Most of the afternoon consisted of long stretches of straight, and rather isolated, highway, with ranches and crop fields stretching as far as the eye could see. We passed through Kit Carson, a town of only 255 residents, which houses the Kit Carson Historic Depot Museum, all named after the famous frontiersman who lived and died in the 19th century.
Later in the day, riders began arriving in Colorado Springs where Jim and Pam Wear, owners of the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum, hosted a block party on Tejon Street in front of the museum. The event had been planned to coincide with the museum’s 30th Anniversary Open House and Hall of Fame Museum Induction Ceremony. The museum has a fabulous collection of antique motorcycles, and better yet, entry was free to the public. The street was packed all afternoon! Riders and crew also enjoyed a meal at Cowboys on Tejon Street.
There were two Do Not Starts today, and six bikes ended up on the trailer, one of which was #52 Doc Hopkins whose 1916 Harley-Davidson J with sidecar. Doc’s misfortune dropped him out of the top three points leaders, and he lost the class 2 lead as well. #92 Brian Pease and his 1917 Henderson G moved up to third place, which also gave him the lead in class 2. For the ninth day in a row, #99 Todd Cameron and #1 Dave Currier held onto the top positions, and all other class leaders remained the same. Riders with perfect scores dropped from 41 to 38.
Tomorrow will be a challenging hike through the Rockies, with riders seeing elevation changes from 6,500 feet to 11,500 feet. Will the single cylinder machines be able to make the climb? Everyone is invited to Centennial Plaza in Montrose, Colorado, where the Cannonball bikes will be on display until 6:30 p.m.
September 16, 2023
After a much-needed day off, Cannonball riders began Stage 8 in Wichita, Kansas, this cool morning to an overcast sky and some misty almost-rain. After 100 miles of Kansas flatlands and farmlands, we arrived at TR Restorations in Pratt, Kansas, for a bounteous lunch prepared by the family and friends of Cannonball alumnus Terry Richardson.
During this mid-day break, some items were added to the “yard saling” that has taken place all along the route. “Yard saling” refers to items that detach themselves and take flight from Cannonballer’s bikes. Sweep staff are always on the lookout for “yard sale” items along the route so they can be picked up and returned to the rider at the end of the day. Some of the yard sale items so far include one saddlebag which was retrieved by a kind motorist and returned to the rider at the next opportunity, several fire extinguishers, a phone picked up by another Cannonballer, a taillight lens, various tools including an entire tool bag, a wallet (also recovered), an odometer (critical for calculating mileage!), clothing, gloves and other riding gear. I’m pretty sure more items will be added to the list as the ride progresses.
On the route to Garden City, Kansas, our destination for the night, we passed several fascinating attractions. First was a one-of-a-kind art installation created by Mullinville, Kansas, artist M.T. Liggett, a self-taught political artist who installed, along the front fence line of his land, a series of sculptures formed from farm implements, welded metal and combine discs. The late artist’s sculptures are kinetic, moving with the wind, and contain various political messages intended to provoke discussion and controversy.
Another interesting venue was the Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City where some of the riders stopped for a tour. The museum is located on the site of the original Boot Hill Cemetery and includes a recreation of a typical western town. The museum’s mission is to preserve the history of the Old West, mostly focusing on Dodge City.
By early afternoon, the weather cleared up, the sun came out, and the rain gear was stowed, making the rest of the ride quite pleasant. Cannonballers rolled into the Garden City downtown area, right in the midst of their annual Fall Fest, and were cheered on by town residents and visitors who came out to greet us. We were truly treated like royalty, with a delicious dinner served to all riders, crew, and staff, courtesy of the city. Fall Fest was a real down home family affair, and the townspeople were thrilled to host this group of antique motorcycle riders. We really spiced up their celebration, and they certainly added to our enjoyment of the day.
Navigation today was straightforward, and very few machines—only two—ended up on the sweep truck. There were 10 Do Not Starts, and 41 riders ended Stage 8 with a perfect score. Once again, #99 Todd Cameron, #1 Dave Currier, and #52 Doc Hopkins hold onto, respectively, first, second, and third places overall, and the rest of the class leaders remain the same as well.
Tomorrow we depart for Colorado, with a midday stop at the Colorado Welcome Center in Lamar, hosted by the city, and a late afternoon stop hosted by Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum in Colorado Springs where we celebrate with a huge antique motorcycle block party in conjunction with the museum’s 30th anniversary open house. The public is invited to both events, and we sure hope to see everyone there!