September 18, 2023
Today, Stage 10 started with a bang—literally! Just before the Stage 1 departure from the hotel in Colorado Springs, a friend of some of the riders shot off a cannon, for the Cannonball, from the back of his vintage pickup truck. And the day only got better from there.
The route brought riders through the most spectacular scenery of the Cannonball so far, with long stretches of road following the curves of the Gunnison River and its lakes and reservoirs, passing through various national recreation areas. There were steep ascents and descents, and the singles strove mightily to reach the top of each summit along the route.
A highlight of the day included the short but very narrow, curvy one-way road along Skyline Drive, which offered no guardrails or shoulders. It was a struggle to enjoy the surrounding mountains while keeping one’s eyes on the road.
Next was a real treat: Jason had arranged with the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park staff to allow riders to traverse the pedestrian bridge over the park’s pedestrian bridge. Royal Gorge is a canyon of the Arkansas River, and is 1,250 feet at its deepest. Public vehicles of any kind are never allowed over the bridge, so this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for riders to trundle over the wooden boards. The bridge is nearly a quarter mile in length, and the views on either side are remarkable, with the Arkansas River flowing through the gorge below and the mountains and valleys in the distance.
The next leg of today’s journey brought riders to Monarch Pass, which at 11, 312 feet is the highest elevation riders will experience with this edition of the Motorcycle Cannonball. While fighting the wind chill at the top, we met Cannonball fans Lois and Dennis House who showed us the beautiful quilt that Lois’s sister-in-law made to honor the couple’s love of the Cannonball. The Houses live in Texas but summer in Colorado, so any time the Cannonball passes by, they make sure to stop along the route and cheer the riders on. This tribute to the Cannonball really drove home what this event means not only to the riders, but to its many fans and followers.
Between Monarch Pass and our destination of Montrose, Colorado, road construction caused extensive delays. Riders sat for up to an hour waiting for traffic to clear. However, the spate of raindrops that fell had given way to clear skies with just a touch of coolness in the air, and with the backdrop of spectacular snow-capped mountains to admire, there were actually few complaints.
The City of Montrose greeted us with a block party at Centennial Park, complete with food trucks where each rider enjoyed a meal of their choice, courtesy of the city. The community came out in full force to admire the antique machines, chat with the riders, and take tons of photos. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the vibe, the food, and talking about their bikes with folks from Montrose and beyond.
There were 13 Do Not Starts today, and three motorcycles took a ride on the trailer. For the 10th day straight, #99 Todd Cameron and #1 Dave Currier held onto the top positions, and #2 Brian Pease holds third place for his second day. Once again, all other points leaders hold their positions in classes three through seven, and 36 riders, down from yesterday’s 38, have maintained perfect scores.
Tomorrow, Stage 11 will take riders out the western side of the Rockies and into the high desert, ending the day in the small city of Green River, Utah. Westward ho!