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#36 Jonas Zahn

Beaver Dam, WI

1928 Moto Guzzi Sport 14

Hailing from Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, I will be riding in my first Motorcycle Cannonball in 2023. I am returning to cross country riding after more than 20 years since making 5 solo adventures on my 1978 BMW R100/7 between 1995 and 1999. I’ve owned and/or restored more than a dozen motorcycles ranging from a 1959 HD FLH, several BMWs from the 1960s to the 1980s, and the 1999 HD Road King that I have been riding since I purchased it slightly used in February of 2000. I grew up on a modest small family farm in South Central, Wisconsin raising dairy and beef cows, pigs, sheep, and chickens. Dad and Grandpa were also lifetime Farmall tractor and farm equipment enthusiasts. I spent many years of my youth in the shop fixing, tuning, and restoring equipment built in the 1920s through the 1960s. That’s where I learned to appreciate things both old and new for engineered characteristics such as reliability, simplicity, and owner maintainability. These are the same characteristics that drew me to air-cooled twin BMW motorcycles from the 1950s through the 1980s. I studied engineering at University of Wisconsin at Madison and enjoyed every bit of it so much, in fact, that I took classes in Mechanical, Electrical, Materials, Industrial, Construction, and ultimately completed a degree in Civil Engineering after 5-1/2 years. I was able to save up a few dollars working in custodial and building maintenance on campus that afforded me a few weeks to tour the country on my BMW almost every summer. In October of 1999, while I was living in Austin, Texas for a few years after school, I was rear-ended at a red light. The crash was pretty bad because the car was moving in excess of 50mph. My BMW was totaled in the crash, but the bigger story was with me. I lost my right leg below the knee. In the six months that followed, I dealt with a difficult physical and emotional recovery. Having been fitted with a prosthesis by February, 2000, I bought my 1999 HD Road King that I still ride today. As part of my emotional recovery, I took that Road King on a cross-country soul-fixing journey for 5 weeks and returned to Austin, TX to resume my work & family life. I have been back in Wisconsin calling Beaver Dam my home since 2005. My wife, Julie, and teenage daughters Lily, and Cecelia, are very excited to help me prepare for the Motorcycle Cannonball. My older daughter, Lily, has completed her 1st year at UW-Madison in engineering and she’s pretty handy in the workshop. My younger daughter, Cecelia, is a talented artist who comes to my aid with lettering and pin-striping. I first learned of the Motorcycle Cannonball in October, 2021 and was immediately hooked! This was a perfect intersection of my love of old motorcycles and adventure touring. How had I not heard of Cannonball before? …I don’t know, but I’m here now. I figured that joining up for 2023 was just a pipe dream. However, I had support from Julie and the kids to apply anyway and start researching. I considered pre-1932 HD, Indian, Excelsior, and Matchless motorcycles before deciding on a 1929 Moto Guzzi Sport 14. I chose the Sport 14 for the low-slung weight making it fun to ride, and the horizontal single-cylinder 500cc had many engineering features making it a very reliable machine–one that Moto Guzzi continued making for three decades. I am thankful for the opportunity to become part of the Motorcycle Cannonball club.