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September 16, 2023

After a much-needed day off, Cannonball riders began Stage 8 in Wichita, Kansas, this cool morning to an overcast sky and some misty almost-rain. After 100 miles of Kansas flatlands and farmlands, we arrived at TR Restorations in Pratt, Kansas, for a bounteous lunch prepared by the family and friends of Cannonball alumnus Terry Richardson.

During this mid-day break, some items were added to the “yard saling” that has taken place all along the route. “Yard saling” refers to items that detach themselves and take flight from Cannonballer’s bikes. Sweep staff are always on the lookout for “yard sale” items along the route so they can be picked up and returned to the rider at the end of the day. Some of the yard sale items so far include one saddlebag which was retrieved by a kind motorist and returned to the rider at the next opportunity, several fire extinguishers, a phone picked up by another Cannonballer, a taillight lens, various tools including an entire tool bag, a wallet (also recovered), an odometer (critical for calculating mileage!), clothing, gloves and other riding gear. I’m pretty sure more items will be added to the list as the ride progresses.

On the route to Garden City, Kansas, our destination for the night, we passed several fascinating attractions. First was a one-of-a-kind art installation created by Mullinville, Kansas, artist M.T. Liggett, a self-taught political artist who installed, along the front fence line of his land, a series of sculptures formed from farm implements, welded metal and combine discs. The late artist’s sculptures are kinetic, moving with the wind, and contain various political messages intended to provoke discussion and controversy.

Another interesting venue was the Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City where some of the riders stopped for a tour. The museum is located on the site of the original Boot Hill Cemetery and includes a recreation of a typical western town. The museum’s mission is to preserve the history of the Old West, mostly focusing on Dodge City.

By early afternoon, the weather cleared up, the sun came out, and the rain gear was stowed, making the rest of the ride quite pleasant. Cannonballers rolled into the Garden City downtown area, right in the midst of their annual Fall Fest, and were cheered on by town residents and visitors who came out to greet us. We were truly treated like royalty, with a delicious dinner served to all riders, crew, and staff, courtesy of the city. Fall Fest was a real down home family affair, and the townspeople were thrilled to host this group of antique motorcycle riders. We really spiced up their celebration, and they certainly added to our enjoyment of the day.

Navigation today was straightforward, and very few machines—only two—ended up on the sweep truck. There were 10 Do Not Starts, and 41 riders ended Stage 8 with a perfect score. Once again, #99 Todd Cameron, #1 Dave Currier, and #52 Doc Hopkins hold onto, respectively, first, second, and third places overall, and the rest of the class leaders remain the same as well.

Tomorrow we depart for Colorado, with a midday stop at the Colorado Welcome Center in Lamar, hosted by the city, and a late afternoon stop hosted by Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum in Colorado Springs where we celebrate with a huge antique motorcycle block party in conjunction with the museum’s 30th anniversary open house. The public is invited to both events, and we sure hope to see everyone there!