#192 Matt Lyman
1918 Indian Powerplus
Hello New Friends and Cannonball Enthusiasts!
My name is Matt Lyman. I’ve read stories about this great adventure called the Motorcycle Cannonball for the past decade! Now, in 2020, I will become a first-time Cannonball rider myself! Criss-crossing our beautiful country, from top to bottom, on a century old machine, will be an actual dream come true for me!
I’ve had the privilege of living my entire life in rural Wisconsin, where I grew up on a dairy farm during the 1950s and 60s. It was a time when a family could make a good living working 80 acres of land and milking 30 cows twice a day. Farm life, and my parents, taught me to work hard and be persistent. Farming also taught us to care for the land, our animals, and machinery.
My twin brother and I received a well-worn Honda 50 step-through for our 13th birthdays. Within a few days of riding the fields and woodlands of the farm I was hooked! I soon made the progression to a 160 Scrambler, and then an old Dream 305. Next came an old Harley Model U. For the past 50 years I have rarely been without at least one motorcycle. In recent decades my passion has evolved towards older and older machines. How wonderfully amazing these earliest machines are! How rewarding and enjoyable it is to putt along a back road, smelling fresh cut alfalfa drying in the fields, and watching red-winged blackbirds dive from overhead phone lines as they defend their territories.
I had known that my grandfather rode Indians, Harleys, and Excelsiors in his youth, back in the early 1900s. He told me that they were all excellent machines, but that for some intangible reason Indians were his favorite. Unfortunately, Grandpa had lost his sight in an automobile accident in 1935. He was hit by a drunk driver. I knew relatively little of his early motorcycling days till after I got that first Honda. Our shared love of riding became a special bond between us.
One of the last times that I saw Grandpa, before he passed away in 1974, he asked me to go to his dresser and pull out an old cigar box. I brought the box to him. He felt through its contents and pulled out a bronze badge. Although he had not ‘seen’ this badge in nearly 4 decades, he clearly described every detail of it to me. On the badge were the initials S C M C and the number 92. He told me the initials stood for South Chicago Motorcycle Club, and that 92 was his membership number. He described rides the club had taken from Chicago to the Indiana Dunes area. He also described riding to and watching early board track races, and told me about a time when a horse had eaten a flower off of my grandmother’s Sunday hat as she sat in the sidecar attached to his Indian Powerplus. At the end of our visit Grandpa said that he wanted me to keep the badge, and that if I ever owned an Indian motorcycle to mount the badge on its front fender tip. For the past few years that badge has resided on the front fender of my 2014 Indian (Polaris) Chief Classic. But it will soon be moving to the 1918 Indian Powerplus I recently acquired, and will be riding on the 2020 Cannonball in honor of my grandfather and other mentors in my life.
I’m looking forward to continuing the great Cannonball adventure and making lots of new friends!