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September 12, 2023

This morning brought cooler weather to Clarksville, Tennessee, as riders departed for Stage 5 of the Cannonball. We spent a little time on a four-lane highway, but entering Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area transformed the ride into another world. Land Between the Lakes boasts 170,000 acres of pristine forests and lakes, and there was hardly any traffic on the gently flowing roads throughout the area.

We crossed back over the Cumberland River and proceeded to the Kentucky Dam with its impressively huge hydroelectric plant on the Tennessee River. There, the river flows into Kentucky Lake, which features an astounding 2,000-plus miles of shoreline—Kentucky Lake Scenic Drive was part of today’s route as well. Just a few miles beyond this magnificent engineering example, the course instructions suggested that riders look for Possum Trot Quickmart in Calvert City, Kentucky. We were told the store has killer pie and coffee, so of course some of the riders (and staff) just had to find out.

The city of Paducah, Kentucky, hosted riders for midday snacks and water, and to give riders and their machines a break. As with most stops, folks from the local community and beyond gathered to check out the antique motorcycles and meet the riders.

Riders continued to Metropolis, Illinois, which became the legal “Hometown of Superman” through a resolution passed in 1972. A 15-foot painted bronze statue that sits outside the county courthouse, and there’s a very cool souvenir store across the street. You can bet that a bunch of riders posed for photo ops with the Man of Steel while on their way to Missouri.

Our final stop of the day was in Cape Girardeau, Missouri; between the Cannonball and the Cross Country Chase, this was the fourth time we’ve stopped there. Cape is one of our favorite cities, and once again, they rolled out the red carpet with a big party—including live music—downtown on Water Street. The city also hosted a dinner for riders, support crew, and staff, and a band played live music outside the pavilion.

Today’s 200-mile ride was a test of navigation skills. We would be on a road, get off the road, then get back on the road. Riders began doubting themselves and their choices, and numerous people missed turns. In fact, about 20 riders blew by the first turn in Land Between the Lakes. However, the riders greatly enjoyed the course. #50 Robin Andreason on her 1914 Harley-Davidson 10B commented, “I really liked the ride today. It was long, flat, and easy.” #30 Keith Kardell, riding his 1930 Harley-Davidson JD, concurs: “The route was exactly the right ‘temperature’ for me, not like all the curves the other day.” But Keith! You were a racer and a stuntman! “Yeah, but I was a flat line racer.”

We also got to see a bit of redneck engineering on #180 Allan Pleasanton’s 1928 Indian 101 Scout. Yesterday, his bike was on the side of the road while he was in a hardware store across the street looking for something to repair or replace his malfunctioning oil tank which no longer wanted to hold oil. He spotted a plastic antifreeze overflow jug and decided it would be perfect as an external oil bag, so he affixed it to the right engine guard and has been running that way for two days. MacGyver would be proud.

Eight machines did not start today, and 51 riders still have perfect scores. And for the fifth day in a row, #99 Todd Cameron, #1 Dave Currier, and #109 Alex Trepanier came in, respectively, first, second, and third in points. All the other points leaders in each class have maintained their leads as well.

We leave Cape Girardeau tomorrow morning and head to the Branson, Missouri area. At 283 miles, it will be a long day with no hosted stops along the way, however, the public is invited to meet the riders and view the bikes at Chateau on the Lake, between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.