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Saturday was a grueling combination of blowing winds and dust, hight anxiety and anticipation topped off by elation and gratitude for the exhausted riders. With 99 riders still in the game, there was concern over the possibilities of break downs over long, steep grades and the stretch between gas stops had riders pulled over on highway shoulders for roadside top-offs.

Cannonball crews pulled over to help rider #120, Dave Minerva, after his bike crapped out along the Columbia Gorge. Turned out he’d gotten a bad batch of gas and had water in the carburator. Just as they were getting things straightened out, the sweep crew drove up to load the bike. They gave Dave the calculations on the speed he’d need to maintain in order to make it to the finish line on time and to maintain his  perfect score, which sent Minerva into a panic. He jumped on his 1916 H-D and flew like the wind. Dave arrived with full miles and held his 17th place in the rankings.

Riding through the farmlands during harvest in the onion fields outside Walla Walla, Washington caused dense dust clouds to engulf the group and by the time they arrived for the street part in The Dalles, Oregon, everyone was spent. The energy from the locals helped to elevate the mood and riders were served hot-off-the-grill smoked salmon and chicken and all the fresh salad and desserts they could eat. A live band kept toes tapping and the feeling of celebration for a job well done permeated the place. The cool little ferris wheel added a bit of nostalgia to the festivities and the warmth of the crowd would have made Cannonball Baker just as proud as we know Lonnie Isam, Jr. Motorcycle Cannonball founder, would be.

The group’s last ride will leave The Dalles from the Fairfield Inn at 11:00 and arrive at Skamania Lodge in Washington at 2:30. Come on out to watch riders waved in by the checkered flag and congratulate the weary warriors on an amazing, arduous journey of accomplishment.