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Most people think that the Motorcycle Cannonball support staff is all guys on bikes, but that is not true. Pretty Polly Marinova volunteers to ride the route on her own vintage Triumph to assist the riders who break down along the way. She cheerfully helps out with distributing route sheets in the mornings and during a stop in Montana she even stepped up to be flag girl. She can often be seen smiling on the side of the road while assisting a broken bike and that’s exactly what she was doing when we pulled in behind her to see if we could help.

The rider was upset, cussing and fussing, as Polly was spinning the pushrods to show that the engine was not seized and poured water on the engine fins while trying to assure the rider that it wasn’t as bad as he thought. In her beautiful Bulgarian accent, she tried to explain that the engine was just hot and once it cooled a bit, it would probably be fine. It’s a very common occurrence with the old bikes as they expand from excessive heat. The rider, convinced that his ride was over, walked away to kick at rocks and cuss into this phone as Joe got a squirt bottle so he and Polly could get to cooling the ancient engine down.

The rider eventually calmed some and came back to help tend his machine, so Joe suggested he get the valve covers off. The rider fumbled around with the tools before Polly reached over and handed him the right wrench. Then they moved to checking the spark plugs. Again, Polly handed the necessary tool over as if assisting with surgery: confident and precise. Everything checked out fine and when the old bike eventually cooled down, they gave him a push and the rider continued on to get all his miles for the day. I wondered then if he realized what a lucky guy he was to have Polly pull over to help. Her patience, persistence and experience got him back in the race when a lot of guys would have trusted the rider’s original diagnosis and just let the sweep truck haul him in…