[March 11, 2014] The 2014 Motorcycle Cannonball’s caravan of antique motorcycle riding adventurists will include four dynamic women. Each one of our Cannonball Belles is as indomitable, unique and elegant as are the motorcycles they ride. Three of the ladies will be accompanied by their significant others while one will make her journey a solo ride. Three are American riders while one will be shipping her bike from her homeland of Italy.
As a returning rider, #89 Cris Sommers Simmons, will not be on the same motorcycle for this year’s run that she had during the 2010 Cannonball. Instead she will be astride a 1934 Harley-Davidson VD as her husband, Pat Simmons, a first-time Cannonballer, rides his 1929 Harley-Davidson JD. The couple hails from Hawaii. Cris is a mother, accomplished rider, book author and well-known motorcycle personality. Her latest book, The American Motorcycle Girl’s Cannonball Diary, chronicles her transcontinental adventures with “Effie,” the 1915 Harley-Davidson she rode during the inaugural Cannonball Run. Cris came along to help the sweep crews for the 2012 Cannonball.
California resident #81, Sharon Jacobs, will jockey a 1936 Harley-Davidson VLH along side her husband Scott as he rides his 1926 Harley-Davidson JD. Watching her husband cover the miles with smiles as well as struggles during the 2012 Motorcycle Cannonball served to make Sharon determined to embrace her own challenges for the next coast-to-coast ride. She began searching early on for a motorcycle that would suit her as she made preparations to tackle the 2014 route from Florida to Washington and was delighted when she found the VLH last fall. The work to get it road worthy is well under way.
Our third Belle, Dottie Mattern as rider #43, is from Florida. At a time when most people are enjoying their retirement by slowing down the pace of their lives, Dottie is doing just the opposite. As a 12-year survivor of colon cancer, she embraces motorcycling with the same enthusiastic vigor that she has for life. Having read Cris Sommers Simmons’ book documenting her 2010 Motorcycle Cannonball adventure and following the daily blogs from that event, Dottie got the idea that joining the run would be a good thing to do as she celebrates her 70th birthday in October. A rider for over 50-years, Mattern has competed in many 4 or 5-day motorcycle events with the AMCA and traveled around the world with her husband for a three month trip that she describes as “fantastic.” Dottie has not, however, been across the United States on two wheels. Her 1936 Indian Scout, which she has owned for 25-years, will be “fresh as a daisy” by September and the indomitable pair are well prepared to tackle what Dottie expects to be an “extreme adventure.”
The fourth lady to join us this fall is rider #105, Claudia Ganzaroli, who will be shipping her 1928 Moto Frera motorcycle from her home in Italy. Riding scooters since she was 12-years old when, she tells us, it was forbidden to do so, Claudia knows her way around a motorbike. When she turned 21 her grandmother gifted her a 150cc Parilla. “My first true motorcycle!” she tells us. After that she purchased a variety of bikes until 1985 when she met her partner and fellow rider on the Motorcycle Cannonball, Sante Mazza, who was a member of a riding club for Harley owners. Because she did not own a H-D, she could not join so she bought her first Harley, an 883 Sportster. Both Sante and Claudia gravitated towards their mutual love of vintage bikes and the pair now has a collection of both Indians and Harley V-Twins dated pre-1909.
For the 2014 MC, the couple, who have never been to the States before, purchased a pair of Italian made Frera 4’s since, after all, “It is stupid to send two American bikes to the USA,” Claudia declares. “We are impatient to arrive. This trip is wonderful because we are not only tourists; you prepared a good trip for us! See you all in September.”
Be sure to follow all four of the Belles of the ‘ball as they compete along side riders from all over the world while they wend their way across these great United States.
Win a Chance to Ride The Cannonball on a 1936 H-D Knucklehead!
At Born Free 6 on June 29, 2014, one lucky motorcyclist will win the antique-motorcycle adventure of a lifetime in the Golden Ticket Sweepstakes, being organized by old bike enthusiast and builder Matt Olsen.
What’s the Golden Ticket? It’s the opportunity to ride Olsen’s 1936 Harley-Davidson EL on an all-expense-paid “factory ride” in the vintage motorcycle event of the year—the 2014 Motorcycle Cannonball Endurance Run, a 16-day, 4,150-mile coast-to-coast ride only for motorcycles made before 1937. The run will travel from Daytona Beach, Florida, to Tacoma, Washington, September 5-21, and thanks to this unique opportunity, one lucky rider from anywhere in the world, will be making the trip in style.
All of the available entries for the 2014 Cannonball, priced at $2500.00 apiece, were sold out long ago. But Olsen secured one to award as the grand prize in this sweepstakes.
That coveted entry is just the start of the Golden Ticket prize package, though. Because not only will the winning rider get to ride a truly historic motorcycle for the Cannonball, the winner will also have the benefit of a full support crew headed up by Olsen himself, whose bike-building resume includes the Best in Show Award at last year’s prestigious Born Free Bike Show. Matt and his wife, Brittney, will drive a support truck, taking care of needed maintenance on the bike and the 36 el that his father Carl will be riding each evening while the winner gets some needed food and rest in the hotels that will serve as Cannonball stops across the country, all expenses paid. Says Olsen, “This is a turn-key deal. You show up for the start in Florida, and we’ll take care of everything until we reach Washington.”
The Golden Ticket machine is Olsen’s own 1936 Harley-Davidson EL, a rare first-year example of Harley’s “Knucklehead” design that remained in production through 1947. The Knucklehead—the first production Harley V-twin to feature overhead valves, re-circulating oil system and integrated dash —is often regarded as the most iconic American motorcycle of all time, setting the trend for the American cruiser style. And Olsen’s machine, finished in Venetian Blue and Orlando Orange paint, is one of about 1,500 Knuckleheads made that year. Although the winner will want to own this amazing motorcycle after he or she rides it on the Cannonball, Matt is keeping this beauty.
The “pre-1937” restriction on motorcycles entered in this year’s Cannonball means that a ’36 Knucklehead will be the most advanced machine eligible for the ride. And Olsen’s is a well sorted-out example, having served as his primary motorcycle for eight years.
“I have ridden this bike everywhere,” says Olsen. “It’s completed two Iron Butt 1,000-mile days, and is the oldest harley to complete one of the bun burner 1000 challenges.”
That grand prize is impressive enough. But the Golden Ticket Sweepstakes offers a pretty spectacular second prize, too, donated by the Harley-Davidson Motor Company*: an all-expense-paid trip from anywhere in the world to the Harley-Davidson factory in Milwaukee for an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the company’s museum and archives, along with its Milwaukee-based powertrain plant.
It all adds up to two Golden Ticket prizes—one for the Cannonball Endurance Run and the other for a rare tour of Harley’s headquarters and archives. And those prizes are available to anyone who enters.
* The Harley-Davidson Motor Company is not a sponsor or otherwise involved in the operation of this event.
Coast to Coast on a Neracar
Written by Rebecca West
Back in 1918, Carl Neracher designed a lightweight, feet first motorcycle that went on to be known as a Neracar. Unique for its hub-center steering and widely acclaimed for its stability, there were roughly 10,000 of them produced by the Ner-A-Car Corporation in Syracuse, NY, between the years 1921 and 1924. Shortly after production began in the US, Nerarcher licensed his design to the UK’s Sheffield-Simplex, where an additional 6,500 were manufactured for British consumers. By 1926, it was pretty much all said and done for both manufacturers, but this incredibly reliable bike lives on with alternative motorcycle enthusiasts even today.
This is the route for the 2014 Motorcycle Cannonball. In working on this route,we have tried to fulfill several criteria:
A coast-to-coast route across the United States. We start the run in Daytona Beach, Florida on the worlds most famous beach. We finish the run after 4150 miles, on the Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington.
Approximately a two-week schedule. We start on a Friday in Daytona Beach, and finish in Tacoma two weeks later on a Sunday. The route is 17 days total, 16 days on the road, and one rest day in Junction City, Kansas. The day off is on a Friday, a week after the start, a weekday when shops are open. The two days before the start in Daytona Beach we will have registration, vehicle inspection, an optional practice run, a short classroom session, and a hosted welcome reception.