#63 Erik Bahl
This is my third attempt to cross this fantastic country on the Cannonball Run. We are truly blessed by God! I am in heavy debt to Lonnie, Jason, and all of the support staff for this life changing opportunity! I also appreciate the intense friendships that are a result of this event! In 2014, my first attempt was on a 1929 BMW R63, “Black Beauty.” This was BMW’s first 735 CC overhead valve motorcycle (earlier bikes were 500cc). This motorcycle had survived service during World War 2. During involuntary war conscription engine damage occurred which was subtle but detrimental to my journey. I made it about 1/3 of the way, before it took me out of the tour in the middle of the United States. It was disappointing but is the reality of the Cannonball. In 2016 bikes were restricted to 100 years old or older. I rode “Lucille” a 1915 Harley Davidson 11F which I named after my grandmother. This bike was ridden in the inaugural Cannonball of 2010 by Rick McMaken of Roy Washington and I was fortunate enough to purchase it afterwards. He won class 3 with the number 40 plate which William Buckingham sported in 2014 and was carried by the entire Cannonball field in 2016 after his unexpected passing just a few weeks before he would be riding in the 2016 Cannonball. In 2016 Lucille carried me over the entire route with a perfect score. I think 16 of the 90 bikes achieved this. It was not a cake walk. On the second day I was under Lucille with gas and oil pouring on me, in a ditch with what I thought might be a broken leg taking me out of the run. Victor Boocock (#56 “The Godfather”) and Mark Lowen (#69) helped get Lucille up and running on the side of the road allowing me to complete the days run. The leg bothered me for the next three days but was not broken! Twenty miles later at our evening stop, Triple S Harley Davidson in Morgantown VV opened their shop and with Dave Kafton’s help I was able to repair the damage and get on the road the next morning. In 2018 I am running a refreshed Lucille during 2017 she went through the 5000 mile rebuild. This meant every nut, bolt and ball bearing was disassembled and cleaned. This is no guarantee to success, this is a 103-year-old motorcycle with lots of wear and tear and fatigue. Riding bikes this old is a true shake of the dice, you never know what is going to happen. I am looking forward to exploring the northern part of this country and meeting all of the great people who appreciate this early American engineering and rolling circus!
PS. It is amazing how 100+ year old technology can actually get you across the United States. It seems like such a great distance and you are probably averaging about 35 to 45 mph.
Everything is so worn out and fatigued.
It’s a true miracle anyone actually makes it!
So the bigger question is why not strap a high dollar motorcycle to a trailer hitch carrier.
Especially when the motorcycle is worth quite a bit more than the truck.
That’s how we roll in Alabama!