Spirit Lake, Iowa., Sept 11 - There are some days that stand out as remarkable simply because of the weather and ease of the ride, or the scenery, or because the engine seems to purr. This day would not be one of those. The wind kicked our collective asses. There were miles of long flat roads through cornfields and small farms just as route master John Classen had promised during his pre-rides, but the boredom he suggested never settled in. The wind whipped across the fields with a vengeance, building in strength as we crossed the state.
I was a passenger with Joe Sparrow for this day. We stopped by every rider who was on the side of the road to be sure they were ok. As we pulled over for Claudio Femiano, rider #9 from Italy, he was putting fuel from a gas can into his bike and we asked how he was doing. With wild gestures from waving arms, the frustrated European declared, “This wind….it is every where!” Which gave us a bit of a chuckle. He was right; it was a determined wind that pushed riders around and it raged the entire 279-miles.
The Mason City Harley-Davidson dealer hosted lunch and the picnic lunch out under the canopy was a welcome respite from the elements. The sun was hot, the sodas were cold and the food was tasty. For Irma Vils, wife of rider #13 Mike Vils, it was a small lunch since her plate was whipped off the table and is probably in Canada by now.
The staff of dealership was warm, hospitable, and very interested in the vintage bikes that graced their parking lot. There were much fewer guys twisting wrenches for this meal, instead just adjusted fluid levels and tightened up assorted pieces n’ parts and were off into the wind once more.
The evening stop at The Inn at Okoboji was a great treat for everyone. The folks at Indian Motorcycles came out and threw out all the stops for the Cannonballers. With a live band playing on the black top, riders wrenched and visited with well-wishing spectators as the tunes drifted through the property and out across the beautiful blue lake. Some riders chose to take a dip in the pool instead of getting greasy. Our gregarious and cheerful Australian, Chris Knoop, proudly announced that THIS was the day he made it into the triple digits on mileage! Having spent the entire run being trailered and only covering 194 miles in four days, he was thrilled to have made 135-miles this day. We certainly understood his excitement, we were glad for him. It was also nice to have an empty space on the trailer.
Dinner was served from the upper level where we could see the lake beyond the treetops and we all enjoyed the relaxed evening. After such a trying day, it was perfect. However, the storm we all knew was brewing on the horizon was just enough to keep us looking skyward with an eye of concern.