There’s something to be said for consistency. The old adage of “Slow and steady wins the race” has proven especially true in the case of the Motorcycle Cannonball. Katrin Boehner, the German entrant who, along with her husband, Dieter Eckel, arrived on American soil and proceeded to wow her fellow riders with her quiet grace and positive attitude. This couple came prepared to do the distance, and they did it with true elegance and style.
Katrin took home the custom bronze trophy made by Jeff Decker, himself a rider on a 1914 H-D in the Cannonball, and her fellow competitors could not have been happier for her. The incredible journey across the States was itself a great feat, the way Katrin did it was even more amazing and the whole world watched as she racked up the miles.
Her motorcycle of choice for the ride was the oldest bike in the competition, a 1907 JAP, 250 cc single. The machine is single speed and gear driven with no clutch, which meant that each time she stopped, so did the engine. Starting the bike back up was a sight to behold. The very graceful, petite blonde would have to get off the motorcycle, run along beside it until the engine caught, then sling her leg over the seat and motor on towards the finish line. She repeated this ballet each time she stopped or started for the entire distance ridden, which was a total of 3,002 miles.
Meals were sometimes sponsored as riders made their way across 11 States, and often the German couple could be seen napping under a shady tree, resting up for the next leg of the journey. It was difficult for the vegetarian pair to find suitable food while on the road, but they never complained. As a matter of fact, the two never complained about anything. Gracious and charming, Katrin and Dieter simply enjoyed themselves and their fellow riders every step of the way. By Sunday, as the Motorcycle Cannonball crew enjoyed their final meal together and handed out awards in Santa Monica, it was with great pride that Dieter stood applauding his wife’s courageous accomplishment. As she hoisted the bronze statue over her head, Dieter silently wiped a tear from his cheek, and beamed his delight from the audience. A perfect end to a perfect ride.