The oldest motorcycle entered in the 2014 Motorcycle Cannonball Run was piloted for 3,719-miles across America by its owner, California resident Victor Boocock. The 1914 H-D was also entered in each of the prior MCRs, though neither of the first two runs proved to be successful for the British born rider.
Victor came to America from England in 1964. He and his wife of over 44-years, also an England native, had always planned to return to their homeland after retirement but that doesn’t seem to have worked out.
“We’ve had such a great time here we just keep putting it off and putting it off,” the cheerful Boocock chuckled, but in 2008 he decided it was time to return home and started making plans to ride a Cannonball Baker route as his “Farewell to America.” It was to be a personal, introspective journey spent quietly making his way across the land he’d come to love.
In the spring of 2010, the seasoned rider set off from New York aboard his trusty old motorcycle. He pointed his front wheel west and headed towards San Francisco alone, with no publicity or support. As a matter of fact, his wife was the only one who knew where he was and that was only through calls from the road when cell service would allow. The trip took its toll on both man and beast, but the pair arrived on the West coast intact.
Victor was already registered to ride in the Cannonball that fall, but by the time he’d made the personal cross-country trip, the geriatric motorcycle was exhausted.
“It was just wore out,” he said. “I couldn’t get it ready in time for the Cannonball, it was only a few months away and I’d beat it up pretty badly so I just had to tell Lonnie I couldn’t make it.” Instead he got busy getting his antique road worthy again. By the time the MCR riders took the green flag from New York in the fall of 2012, Victor and his faithful friend were ready to make the miles across the continent once more. And then disaster struck.
For over 30-years Victor says he had ridden the 1914 H-D with clincher tires and on the second day of the Cannonball, the new rubber simply rolled off the rim and wrapped itself like a snake around the frame. He says they had to cut it off with a saw.
“I didn’t really get hurt from crashing so much as I did from just fighting to keep the bike from sending me over the handlebars. I wrenched those bars so hard it ripped all the tendons off my bicep. I did eventually slide and got some road rash. It was really scary. When those tires come off, they come off right now,” Victor explained. He woke up the next morning with the bed sheets covered in blood and laughed at what the hotel staff must have thought after he left. He flew home that day.
The bike ended up on fellow California rider Dave Kafton’s trailer. “After a week I got to feeling better. I mean, it still hurt and all but I talked Dave into changing the tire for me and I thought, “What the heck, I want to ride,” so I flew out to Klamath Falls, Oregon and met them all and rode the rest of the way in.” Victor rode across the iconic and foggy Golden Gate Bridge to a hero’s welcome with the rest of the 2012 Cannonball riders.
Last month, for the 2014 MCR, bike #56 arrived on Daytona Beach with a new set of rims and tires. No more clinchers, yet on the first day of the run there were two flat tires within the first 60-miles. After the second flat, the bike had to be trailered but over all he enjoyed the ride and his machine performed well. During the first week of the run, Victor celebrated his 72nd birthday with fellow Cannonballers.
“It’s a kind of Zen to set off like that,” he shared. “I can’t explain it, but there is nowhere else in the world that you can travel for 3,000-miles and see such different scenery. The Rockies, the Salt Flats and the rivers, even the desert through Nevada is beautiful. I enjoyed it all and got to meet so many interesting people. I’ve just never had a bad experience on the road. I’m bit of a loner, I’m perfectly happy by myself, but there are so many wonderful stories I can tell from riding the Cannonball, like when I lost my wallet along the road and a farmer found it, or the little 84-year old lady with her walking stick I met who came out just to see the motorcycles. It’s all very touching. Simply amazing.
You know, after my father passed away in England I brought a bit of his ashes back to be scattered across the United States because he enjoyed it here as much as we did. Each time I’ve gotten so caught up in the adventure that I’ve forgotten to scatter him so this time I tucked him into my saddlebags and swore I wouldn’t forget. I got back home and there the ashes were, still in the bags. So, I guess I’ll just have to do the Cannonball again so I can remember to scatter him next time, eh?”