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September 21, 2023

Stage 13 brought another gorgeous riding day. How did we get so lucky? There was a chill in the air as riders left Kanab, Utah, heading slightly northwest to our first stop—Zion National Canyon. The timing of this excursion proved to be on point, as Zion has the third-highest visitor numbers of all National Parks and it’s always best to get there early. Still, there was nearly a half-hour wait to get past the gate due to strict traffic control managed by park rangers. That said, the impromptu entertainment provided by free-range desert bighorn sheep helped while away the time.

The park itself features curvy roads surrounded by brilliantly colored Navajo sandstone rock formations and canyons, making it popular with not only motorcyclists, but hikers and mountain climbers as well. Motorcycle Cannonball competitors loved it, as many had never visited Zion before. One of the more interesting features of the park is the set of tunnels that the road goes through. The second tunnel is 1.1 miles long and very dark, especially for the older bikes with weak illumination. Working headlights and taillights are required for the Cannonball, but this year, the rules dictated that riders mount auxiliary lighting at the front and rear as well.

Our next scheduled stop was Lake Mead National Recreation Area, the largest water reservoir in the U.S. The lake is 112 miles long, but regardless, we couldn’t forget we were still in the desert. We were reminded of just who is in charge when rider #37 Jared Rinker’s rear tire on his 1928 Indian 101 Scout blew out while he and his passenger Rosie Pena were riding it. Yep, there they were, out in the desert near virtually nothing, without a spare tube or even cell phone service. Fortunately, a sweep rider and then the sweep truck came by, a tube was obtained from a second staff vehicle, and the repair was made. But almost as soon as they got on the road again, the chain snapped! After another repair, the couple proceeded to the end-of-day checkpoint, arriving with only two minutes to spare.

Our host for this evening was Atomic Motors Classic Cars and Motorcycles in Henderson, Nevada. The Las Vegas Chapter of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America also came out to meet and greet the Cannonball riders. What an awesome spot for a party where a bunch of gearheads are gathering!

There were six Do Not Starts today, eight out of the competition, and it was a busy day for the sweep vehicles with eight more motorcycles unable to make it to today’s final checkpoint under their own power. For the 13th day, #99 Todd Cameron and #1 Dave Currier held onto the top positions, and #92 Brian Pease has maintained third place for his fifth day. There was a change in the points leaders for Class 3: #30 Keith Kardell’s 1923 Harley-Davidson JD was one of the machines that took a ride on the trailer, and #31 Michael Mooso moved up to claim the top point position. All other points leaders hold their spots, and the number of riders maintaining perfect scores has dropped slightly to 35.

For Stage 14, the Cannonball riders will visit Hoover Dam, stopping for lunch at Mother Road Harley-Davidson in Kingman, Arizona, where the public is invited to meet the riders and check out the bikes around noon. The day ends at London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, and the public is invited from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.