Hello Cannonball Nation,
My name is Buck Carson, and I hail from a small town about an hour north of Houston,
Texas. I’m an antique motorcycle enthusiast with a serious addiction to the Motorcycle
Cannonball. Since 2012, I have been fortunate enough to be able to participate in four events
alongside my father Mike Carson (#15), with 2020 making my fifth time (his fourth). We are a
father-son team of collectors, and together we have amassed more than 120 antique
motorcycles dating back to 1903. There is truly something special about this event; although
the machines competing are always fascinating, it is the individuals and groups of people
behind them that make the Motorcycle Cannonball such a world-class event. Over the years the
memories and relationships formed from the Cannonball have truly shaped and changed my
life, for which I will always be proud of.
In 2012, I participated in the pre-1929 event from Newburgh, New York to San
Francisco, California aboard a 1927 English-made BSA (Birmingham Small Arms) S27
motorcycle. This 500cc single cylinder, three speed transmission machine was a great bike,
although admittedly with its fair share of problems, and together “Elizabeth” and I covered
more than 2,500 miles across this great country. This was one of the most memorable
Cannonball events for me, as I was fortunate enough to celebrate my 21st birthday and become
the youngest (at that time) rider to ever compete in the event. Throughout the 2012 event,
Elizabeth’s motor was rebuilt twice (once with a top end, and once with a complete crankcase
and flywheel splitting). Sadly on the day before the grand finale, Elizabeth’s heart gave up the
ghost and I had no further parts to be able to rebuild the engine for a third time. One of the
greatest memories in my life will forever be pushing my battered machine the nearly two miles
across the Golden Gate Bridge with the help of my team and family as fellow Cannonballers
rode across the bridge.
Moving forward to 2014, again I was humbled to be a part of the pre-1937 Motorcycle
Cannonball from Daytona Beach, Florida to Tacoma, Washington astride a 1936 Harley
Davidson R Model. “Dot”, a 750cc (45ci) v-twin, was named after Dot Robinson (one of the
founding members of the historic Motor Maids) and performed very well in the event. Our
team in 2014 was one of the largest and most successful in Cannonball history, with eight riders
calling our 28’ rolling machine shop trailer home. Unfortunately my machine did suffer some
mechanical issues, with a final catastrophic motor failure that prevented me from being able to
ride across the finish line. Regardless, Dot was a wonderful machine to have in the event and
provided me with some fantastic memories. After my motorcycle suffered the final failure, I
was honored to be able to assist my fellow riders as a volunteer member of the official
Motorcycle sweep truck.
Again in 2016 I was very happy to be able to participate in the pre-1916 Cannonball
from Atlantic City, New Jersey to Carlsbad, California. My entry for this event was another
English-made BSA motorcycle, this time a Concours-Restored 1916 Model K (550cc single
cylinder, three speed transmission with belt final drive), dubbed “Maggie”. Maggie had lived in
our collection for many years and had never seen the road, but with the assistance of Revival
Cycles in Austin, Texas, that soon changed. Funny enough, “Maggie” seemed to want to live up
to her name with continuous problems from the magneto that provided the spark. After only a
few days of riding, with the continuous mechanical issues and seeing how hard of a physical toll
it was taking on such a rare and unique motorcycle I made the decision to not destroy the bike.
Making that choice was very difficult for me, as it feels unbecoming of the honor to be a
“Cannonballer”, but I also knew that it just was not worth it to me or Maggie to run that
beautiful machine into the ground.
Thinking that 2016 would be my final entry into the event, and somewhat disappointed
in myself for not finishing, I had no intention of signing up for the 2018, pre-1929 rendition of
the MCR. After several late nights (and a few too many bourbons), my father and I both made
the decision that we would return to the traveling circus that is the Cannonball. For this
Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon ride we would travel side-by-side aboard a pair of J-model
Harley Davidsons, he on a 1917 model built by our good friend Brent Mayfield, and myself on a
1924 model (also built by Brent) which competed in the 2012 event with Brent piloting and was
ridden to a perfect score by Mike on the 2014 Cannonball. The 2018 event for us was
interesting to say the least, with the two of us involved in a serious accident three days into the
event which left Mike with a broken shoulder and broken ribs and myself with a broken front
end and fairly scraped up. With all of that unhappy mess out of the way, we continued on (Mike
actually getting back on his ’17 a few days later and riding, broken bones and all) until the
motor on Mike’s 1917 had a rather nasty failure a few days before the end. Even with the
unpleasantness of the accident, the 2018 event was probably our favorite as it provided the
two of us with some fantastic father-son memories which will never be forgotten. For me it
marked a milestone, as it was the first time I managed to make a perfect mileage score in the
event (even with riding on a snapped front end after our accident).
Finally this brings us to the next chapter in the wonderful adventure that is Motorcycle
Cannonball: the pre-1929 Sault St. Marie, Michigan to South Padre Island, Texas event. For my
5th running of the MCR, I am very excited to again see the Great American Landscape from the
saddle of a 1928 Harley Davidson JD, nicknamed “QuaranTina”. This machine was a fairly
correct, 1200cc (74ci) v-twin example of what Milwaukee turned out in 1928 but has been kept
in the “as found” condition with a full mechanical restoration and the addition of some cool
period accessories, all which has been completed during quarantine throughout the COVID-19
pandemic of 2020.. My vision for ‘Tina is that she will be a reliable, powerful bike that is the
essence of the word “sleeper”. Joining me for this amazing adventure will be Ms. Nikki Hancock
of Maggie Valley, North Carolina. Nikki is a big fan of antique motorcycling, as she is an essential
component that keeps the world famous “Dale’s Wheels Through Time Museum” running
smoothly. She and I will be riding “two up” on QuaranTina for what is sure to be a fabulous
adventure. Join with team Carson Classic Motors as we once again hit the best backroads that
America has to offer in honor of our two-wheeled past.
Mark Hill #4 of 4th Coast Fours, Waddington, New York: In 2010, I was a mechanic for Frank Westfall and his ’15 Henderson and Jim Dennie and his ’15 Militaire, and I have been involved in every Cannonball since then. At the time, I worked for the State University of New York at Canton in the Powersports program. Through the Cannonball, I became good friends with Lonnie Isam, Jr., and I helped a lot with the organization of the second Cannonball. I have had the privilege to ride in 3 Cannonballs and to provide support to other riders in the other two. I have had the good fortune to have perfect miles in all three events I have ridden. Our shop specializes in American made four cylinder motorcycles – Henderson, ACE, Cleveland, and Indian. 2016 was my favorite Cannonball, as Wolf Pack Hendersons swept the top 3, and 4 of the top 5 positions. No other shop or group of builders has ever come close to this. My favorite motorcycles are the Detroit Hendersons built from 1912-1917. A Detroit Henderson in open space is a formidable Cannonball weapon. With the right course and the right riders, and they are unbeatable. In 2020, I will ride a 1929 Henderson KJ, and I look forward to the competition of riding with Harley Davidson twin cam riders. The smooth, linear power of the Henderson KJ will prove superior. Wolf Pack rising.
Justin Rinker from Findlay, OH (originally from Romney, WV) is rider number 6. He is riding a 1929 Indian
101 Scout like his twin brother Jared (#37). Justin and his wife, Melody, have three kids; Karson, Landon,
and Isabella. After being taught by his father and grandfather, Justin has been riding Indian motorcycles
since he was nine years old. At the age of 16, Justin obtained his motorcycle license on a 1941 Indian
741 custom. Over the years, Justin's passion for adventures on the Indian motorcycle has continued to
grow. He has successfully competed in two past Cannonballs (2016 & 2018), a Great Race, and The Race
of Gentlemen. Now at age 33, Justin prepares for his third Cannonball adventure. He looks to improve
his performance in 2020 by taking his Indian 101 Scout coast to coast again, while striving for a perfect
score each day. Feel free to come meet Justin in September during his adventure to check in on his performance or following along at www.bucksindian.com
Steve Rinker (#7) of Buck’s Indian, located in Romney, WV, Is returning for his fourth Motorcycle Cannonball. Participation in the Cannonball to me is much more than just man versus machine, it’s making the imagination of a 12 year old boy come true. It all started with my dad, Buck, who had his first motorcycle at the age of 12. My dad always tells about when he and his buddies were 12 and they had an old Indian, with no motor, which they would take turns pushing to the top of the hill, climb on and ride it to the bottom pretending to be on some grand motorcycle adventure. Wonder if they ever had visions of crossing the Mississippi River, riding through the fields of the Midwest, or riding up and over the Rocky Mountains?
When the Cannonball was first born in 2010, Lonnie Jr. invited us to participate, but we had no bike to compete with. I’ve always wanted to do something rare and unique with our bikes, so when the 2012 Run came around and the cut-off was 1929, it was time. It would be a once in a lifetime event to complete with my father. I ran my 29 Indian Scout and after 3 days of breakdowns, I learned that old bikes, no matter how much love you have for them, they will not always perform to our hearts desire. Having packed up and headed home 83 miles from the finish on the last day, I made a promise to my dad to attempt it again more prepared to be successful.
In 2014, I ran a 36 Chief, and successfully completed the Endurance Run with a perfect score completing every mile with no penalties! Greeting each other at the finish line, it was more than father and son, it was the culmination of making a 12 year olds adventures become a reality.
In the spring of 2014, we had purchased a 1916 Indian Power Plus at the Oley swapmeet and I can remember Lonnie Jr. admiring the bike and telling my dad how much he would love to see us get the bike up and running and compete in the Cannonball with it. For me, something that early was going to be a whole new learning curve. A new challenge! During the prep for the 2016 Cannonball, as I started gathering as many parts as I could, I found that I ended up buying basket cases to get the parts that I felt we might need for spares. In the spring of 2015, I got the idea of really trying to do something big to make it a 3 generation challenge for our family. Justin and Jared knew we had enough parts to build a second bike and they contacted Lonnie Jr. and secured a spot for the second bike for them to share and ride. They were excited! Well, we all were!!! As building progressed, and we continued to acquire spare parts, a third bike was born. Once again, Justin and Jared contacted Lonnie Jr. to let them put the third bike in. It ended up that Buck’s Indian had three 1916 Indian Power Plus bikes starting on the boardwalk in Atlantic City, NJ and crossing the finish line in Carlsbad, CA. Two of the three bikes completed every mile and finished with a perfect score while the third only lost a few miles on the first and second day and completed every mile thereafter. What a ride! This time, at the finish line, father, son and grandsons hugged. And as my father said with a proud voice, “We did it,” it was at that moment that the dreams of a 12 year old came true.
At Bloomington, Indiana, we even had a 4th generation, my grandson, Karson, pitch in and do his part on the nightly maintenance. So, as he learns to ride his bikes, we will only wonder where his imagination takes him. As a 4th generation Indian enthusiast, hopefully one day it will take him on a great Cannonball adventure.
I have been an active motorcycle enthusiast since 1978. Since then I have racked up over 500,000 miles on two wheels and have owned 50+ motorcycles. I have been lucky enough to have ridden on some awesome trips: Alaska, Mexico, Australia, and extensively in Europe. I am by nature a competitive person and have enjoyed competing in some motorcycle events from Field Games to long distance endurance rides. From the first Cannonball in 2010 I have keenly followed along as a spectator. In 2012 when the Cannonball route came through Milwaukee and stopped at the H-D Museum I was there to welcome the riders to Milwaukee. Goosebumps the entire night as I mingled with the riders and their machines. Fast forward to 2016 I made it to the stops in Bloomington, IN and Cape Girardeau, MO to support the riders.
In 2018 I rode my 1911 Excelsior single belt drive Model K. The 2018 Cannonball event was the hardest thing I have ever attempted. Proud to have finished the event with 2857 miles. So many memories and friends made that will live with me forever. Now with the 2020 Event we will be attempting a new challenge on these old bikes; riding north to south. I will be riding my 1923 model J this time. I hope to have fun and not push and pedal up hills. It will be great to have a transmission, chain drive, and a real brake this time!
Follow along on my blog: https://christribbeyblog.com/
The 2016 cannonball from Atlantic City to Carlsbad was one of the most challenging motorcycle journey’s I have been blessed to be a part of. I thought that there was no way this adventure could be topped, challenging not only myself, but my 100 year old 1915 single cylinder Harley Davidson. The friends that I met, bikes that I got to run with, people I met along the way, as well as the staff, were just off the charts to the good). Well, I got to tell you that the 2018 Journey from Portland to Portland was even better. I have been involved with motorcycling most of my life, and I got my son involved in it since he was about 4 years old. Billy and I were lucky enough to get to ride across the country side by side with 1916 twin Harley-Davidsons, and that topped the 1916 adventure hands down. I am looking forward to competing in the 2020 North/ South adventure, with my son again, this time on 2–1915 Harley single cylinder motorcycles. We will be competing under the Team name of The Barn Guys, and hope that everyone follows along with us, as we will post pictures every day, and look forward to meeting new folks along the way.
Motorcycles have literally played some sort of role throughout my entire life, thanks to my dad. When I
was four years old he bought me my very first one and I’ve been hooked ever since. In the 2016
Cannonball I rode along as my dad’s pit crew, and in 2018 I rode along beside him on a 1916 twin Harley
Davidson. It was the adventure of a lifetime but also one of the most physically and mentally
challenging things I’ve ever done. I’m looking forward to riding along beside him again in 2020 on 1915
single cylinder Harley’s. We hope that everyone follows along with us as we post pictures and updates
every day and I’m looking forward to meeting new friends along the way.