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.