With two extra engine sprockets and my friend Mike Palrang by my side, it was practice time for the 2018 Cannonball. The chosen route would include 800-plus miles and crossing the Colorado Continental Divide 14 times from Loveland Pass in the north to Cumbers and La Manga Pass in the south.
After the grueling challenge of the 2016 Cannonball, which included a perfect score of 3,306 miles, the 1914 HD was still running strong. So after a few California rides and minor adjustments to the inlet and exhaust tappet clearances, it was time to see the beautiful scenery of the Rockies. I’d failed the Monarch Pass on my solo run in 2010, though I went back a year later and just managed to get over the mountains on the second try. Consequentially, I felt the need to test the machine’s climbing ability, again.
And oh what a ride this was. The bike performed great. With a few carb adjustments along the way, it managed to make all the passes in great style. I installed a 12-tooth for the Northern route and we just made it to the top of Independence Pass. It was more challenging going back down with a single rear brake—-very slowly.
Of course I had the obligatory flat tyre. I’ve still not gotten accustomed to that experience, though I’ve had my fair share of flats. Sadly, we didn’t see very much wild life. The Northern route is more rugged, with lots of open granite faces and more traffic on the roads, but still great riding scenery.
The weather was wonderful, light gear only except for a couple quick thunderstorms. Approaching North Pass on the second day we experienced the breath-taking partial eclipse of the moon.
Overall, it was just an extraordinary ride and I’d recommend it for those who want a real challenge with the Rocky Mountains Continental Divide scenery as the ultimate reward. The Southern route just went into New Mexico with high altitude alpine meadows and cattle wandering about the roads, very beautiful and peaceful. The map tells it all.