September 20, 2023
This morning we bid farewell to Green River to start on our longest day—297 miles. The first scenic road was the Lost Highway, a beautiful stretch of asphalt following the Fremont River. Some 85 miles later, we arrived at the first of several National Parks we visited today. Capitol Reef National Park was established over 50 years ago to preserve nearly a quarter-million acres of desert, and it features gorgeous winding roads and endless canyons, buttes, and monoliths. This is where we began to see different colors on the rock formations: purples, greens, oranges, and yellows. And they seemed to take on different hues as the sun crossed the morning sky.
Riders then headed south to Bryce Canyon, and along the way, some stopped for gas at the Grass River Mercantile in Koosharem, Utah. Built in 1873, the store is a throwback to when you could get everything in one place. They offered gasoline, snacks, clothing, and the store even serves as the post office for the town!
Back roads took us through farm and cattle country, with lots of cattle guards and one 13-mile stretch of open range where cattle wandered freely along the road. When we arrived at Bryce Canyon National Park, some of us were surprised to see that the road coming into the park was lined with various evergreens, such as the two Douglas firs that are over 400 years old! Once inside the park, riders proceeded a few miles to Bryce Point where we were treated with panoramic views of canyons and hoodoos (tall, thin spires of rock). Did you know that Bryce has the largest concentration of hoodoos on earth?
On the way to Kanab, Utah, our destination for tonight, we rode through Red Canyon Tunnels, a series of two limestone tunnels carved nearly 100 years ago. The pink, orange, and red tones come from oxidized iron—otherwise known as rust—in the limestone. We thought this was quite appropriate for the Cannonball’s 100-year-old bikes to pass through.
At our hotel in Kanab, the pits were quite active with riders and crews doing repairs and maintenance to the bikes that had already been ridden nearly 3,000 miles. One such rider was #45 Dana Lasher who was repairing an oil leak on her 1929 Indian Scout 101. And yesterday her gas tank was leaking—in three places—so she fashioned a bypass for safety (and, of course to preserve gasoline). Dana built her bike from a basket case and knows every component inside out. Watching repairs in the parking lot reminded me of something else that most people don’t think about: the trucks and trailers that haul the bikes to and from the start and finish and carry the crews the entire way also need maintenance, and breakdowns do occur. In fact, Dana’s hauler vehicle couldn’t make the miles any longer, so her wife Mary rented a Penske van to continue driving until the Cannonball’s conclusion.
There were 16 Do Not Starts today, seven motorcycles are out of the running completely and three bikes ended up on the trailer, plus two towed by their teams. For 12 days running, #99 Todd Cameron and #1 Dave Currier held onto the top positions, and #2 Brian Pease holds third place for his fourth day. Once again, all other points leaders hold their positions in classes three through seven, and 35 riders have maintained perfect scores.
Tomorrow is a big day with visits to more National Parks, and we pass through three states—Utah, Arizona, and Nevada—as well. Riders will then have their bikes on display at Atomic Motors in Henderson, Nevada, tomorrow afternoon, and everyone is invited.