September 11, 2023
Early this morning, Stage 4 riders left our Knoxville airport hotel through a bit of fog that cleared up rather quickly. The entire day was a delight, with temperatures not climbing into the 80s until this afternoon. The course laid out for riders was a lot more mellow than yesterday’s serious twists, turns, and elevation changes. The riders I spoke with were very pleased with the scenery as well as the roads along the 270-mile route, which included rural areas, small towns, and a few mid-size cities.
Rider #45 Dana Lasher, who built her 1929 Indian Scout 101 from a basket case, commented, “Yesterday I took the curves really slow because I couldn’t tell whether they would get more severe, but today, I could see around the curves so the riding was a lot easier.”
Another factor contributing to the day’s enjoyment is that there were fewer mechanical problems, with only three bikes ending up on the sweep trailer. In fact, when I asked Matt Miller #146 Matt Miller (1926 Harley-Davidson JD) what his favorite part of the day was, he joked, “That I didn’t have any breakdowns.”
Competitors greatly enjoyed riding over the Watts Bar Dam and Lock as they crossed the Tennessee River, with its stunning views from high above. We also passed through Red Boiling Springs which sounded inviting, but riders had to push on to reach the end-of-day checkpoint on time. Further on was a bit of drama as an 18-wheeler tried to turn from a country road onto the route we were traversing, blocking the entire intersection and causing a temporary delay. Fortunately, the big rig was positioned in a way that riders could carefully snake around it and didn’t have to wait until a backhoe managed to get the cab situated properly to clear the turn.
The afternoon brought us to the Cumberland River which we followed for several scenic miles. Riders began to arrive mid-afternoon at Appleton Harley-Davidson in Clarksville, Tennessee, where we were treated to a wonderful dinner. Lots of motorcycle enthusiasts from the community showed up to learn about the antique machines and find out more about the Motorcycle Cannonball. And the dealership staff generously offered the use of their service department, even offering to stay as late as needed to finish any necessary repairs.
There were seven Did Not Starts today, and miraculously, not only did the 51 riders who had perfect scores yesterday maintain their perfect scores today, but all top points riders in each class held onto their leads. Yes, for the fourth day in a row, #99 Todd Cameron, #1 Dave Currier, and #109 Alex Trepanier came in, respectively, first, second, and third in points.
Tomorrow morning, riders leave Clarksville and head to Paducah, Kentucky, for a lunch hosted by the city, followed by a hosted evening event in downtown Cape Girardeau, Missouri. The public is invited to both events which promise to be great fun.