Cannonball stops to visit a city are reminiscent of the days of yore when people would come out to see traveling performers as they passed through town. Entire communities would gather to socialize and take in an event and the Motorcycle Cannonball offers a glimpse back to a time when life was lived at a much slower pace. These are traveling, functioning time capsules. A rolling museum if you will, and the simplicity of the machines appeals to people of all ages, classes and races. There is no discrimination of any kind when it comes to old motorcycles, unless of course it’s about the marque. Harleys and Indians will forever rival and during the Cannonball, Hendersons and Excelsiors join in the bravado, too.
One of the phenomenons that occurs as riders make their way across the nation is that the Cannonballers become ambassadors for the sport of antique motorcycling. At every gas station, meal break and break down, there are curious people who just want to look at the machines, hear them and stand in awe that the old dinosaurs still run. Yesterday was just such a situation when we found ourselves in an impoverished part of the Northern Cheyenne reservation. Packs of dogs wandered between the vehicles as pedestrians roamed the tarmac asking drivers for cigarettes, or lights. One of the Cannonball riders was working on his 1925 Brough Superior, attended by two of the local residents. Motorcycle Cannonballer, Brian Bossier Sr., intoduced the pair as the grandfather who helped to push his cantankerous old bike and his grandson who went to fetch him water as he wrenched in the afternoon sun. On the periphery, a variety of people wandered about but stopped to pay attention to the ancient machine amongst them.
“You know, Margaret Ann has always been a good starter,” Cannonballer Brian announces. “Let’s see if she’s ready to start now.” He puts away his tools and pulls on his gloves as the man and his grandson stare at the magnificent old girl. The first kick doesn’t even provide a hiccup. The second is the same when suddenly a man from across the parking lot with no shirt yells, “Start Margaret Ann!” And she did. The old bike thundered to life as a war whoop echoed through the chaos of the gas station and everyone smiles and waves goodbye as Brian continues on the route to Billings. Watching the energy exchanged between strangers who came together to offer respect, support and encouragement for a little 93-year old lady who was doing her best to deliver her rider to the finish line was a pretty inspiring thing to see.