Katrin Böhner and her husband, Dieter Eckel, will be coming to the United States from Germany to participate in the Motorcycle Cannonball this September. The married couple lives in the town of Ingolstadt, a community of 121, 801 residents near Munich, which is located within the free state of Bavaria. The city is rich with history, having been mentioned in the documents of Charlemagne on February 6, 806 as “Ingoldes stat”, or “the place of Ingold.”
Granted city status, circa 1250, Ingolstadt is located along the banks of the Danube River in the center of Bavaria, and is headquarters for the German automobile manufacturer, Audi. Penned as the birthplace of the fictional monster Mary Shelly wrote about in her novel, Frankenstein, the city lends itself to the romance of its natural surroundings.
With mild climates, summer highs are in the low 60’s and annual rainfall averages some 38-inches over 129 days, riding can be a bit temperate in Bavaria. Suffering through severe, snowy winters, our married Cannonball riders put themselves on a long-term fitness program in order to be physically prepared for the transcontinental ride, though Dieter rode through all seasons up until his first car purchase, some 8 years ago. Katrin considers her biggest challenge, at “41-years young,” is being fit enough to make the distance. Dieter, on the other hand, is focused on keeping both bikes running. He will be 50 for the ride and says he is concerned about “keeping pace with my wife.”
For Katrin, this will be her first trip to America and is, as of yet, undecided as to what motorcycle she will ride. She is considering a Triumph (GB) 1908 3 1/2 hp, 475 cc, single speeder, fixed engine, with no special history known. She says, “The bike is old, scruffy and reliable and therefore the right choice for this event. It is not the first choice, but considering the risks of shipping from Germany to USA and riding that long distance it is the most sensible choice, as parts can be replaced quite easily. But who wants to be sensible? The 250 cc ohv JAP, (which is shown in the two photos at the bottom of this article), is the choice of heart. It dates from the 1906-1912 era and had been on display in a British motorcycle museum until the 1980s, otherwise there is no history known of it. It is completely unsprung (even the saddle) and I love to ride it! But we will decide that as soon as Dieter will find the time to have a close look to it and the weather will allow us to take the bikes out for longer rides (after some warm spring days recently, the winter has now came back with lots of snow).”
Katrin went on to say, “I made my motorcycle driving license in 1992 and my first motorcycle was a Velocette KTS Mk 1 from 1935, because my temporary partner was into old motorcycles. Now I am married, my husband is even more into old bikes, and our both interests are developing in pre-1915 bikes. The less gears and clutch, the better.”
As for the Motorcycle Cannonball, Katrin feels the decision to participate was an easy one. “After having done the run through Germany (North to South for 1250 kms) in September 2009, the Cannonball seems to be the logical increase of challenge.”
Dieter will be riding his BSA (GB) Model A 1913, 500 cc, single speeder, fixed engine, no special history known and, he says, it is “the only choice in our garage to enter class 1, and I like riding this bike,” even though the couple owns over 30 motorcycles (“Though not enough old ones,” he says).
Dieter went on to share that, “My parents had always been riding British motorcycles, so I got a very early influence and started my motorcycling life at 12. Being genetically conditioned (my father had Nortons), I always had English bikes, and my first moped was a NSU Quickly. At the age of 14 I got my first bike, a 250cc Maico, which I painted yellow and red. Two years later I bought and restored (in decent black and green) my first BSA, a 1932 Blue Star, which I still own and ride through the summer and winter.”
"For some discomfort and to get trained for the run,” Dieter continues, “We have now started a long-term fitness program. Thinking sensibly about it…it seems a hard task to me. But what choice have I got? I can’t let my wife go on her own!”
Katrin and Dieter say that during the Cannonball, they are “Looking forward to 2 weeks of comradeship, good riding, and superb landscapes.”
The couple runs a business for waterslide transfers and etched ID-plates for the restoration of any old vehicles. See their work at www.wasserabziehbilder.de or www.abziehbilderservice.de