Work is piling up and a corporate decision was made that I would ride in a car for Stage 10 in order to get caught up. Wound up green and carsick in the back seat. John Classen, our illustrious route master, suggested I roll down the window and hang my head out like Lassie. I should have stuck with the sidecar dudes.
An amazing thing is beginning to happen. The bikes are running much better. The original thought was that these old relics would not make the long trip to sunny California and most would give up the ghost by Stage 5. Not so. In fact, the exact opposite is happening. As we rack up the miles, the bikes are getting more and more attention due to the nightly workshops.
Some of the most talented pre-1916 motorcycle mechanical minds in the world are assembled here and they spend their nights wrenching and helping others do the same. As we crest the hills of the last stages of our journey, the kinks have been worked out, weak parts replaced and engines rebuilt, and what remains are some very healthy motorcycles who can do the distance. And some of them are, to be quite frank, hauling ass. Most, however, are just plugging along and enjoying the scenery.
Michael Lichter Preserves the Cannonball in Photos
Written by Felicia Morgan
Tuesday, 21 September 2010 11:12
Michael Lichter, world renown photographer and all around nice guy, has been traveling with the Motorcycle Cannonball as we rattle along the 3.294 miles of back roads between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. His transport has been provided through the generous consideration of Carl Olsen via his Panhead as Michael rides behind him. Backwards. Yep, Michael is back-to-back to Carl and recording our adventures with his Nikkon for use in 9 different publications. Shown here are some of those first images, and we're grateful to Michael for sharing his work. I think you'll agree that he's captured some great stuff. We'll be posting some of his amazing photographs daily over the remaining stages of the Motorcycle Cannonball before we cruise into the Santa Monica Pier in California, and if you find an image here that you'd like to own, be sure to visit Lichter's website (www.lichterphoto.com) to make arrangements to own a piece of motorcycling history.
Stage 10 Update
Written by Felicia Morgan
Monday, 20 September 2010 20:10
A beautiful day was dawning as riders gathered early in the hotel breakfast room for a quick bite before hitting the road this morning. Another long day of high heat and flat roads lies before us and riders were anxious to hit it running. Sort of. I danced around the crowded room singing “Happy Monday” and was met with icy stares and blank faces. Kris Thompson mumbled something about wanting to go back to bed. Dave Kafton asked if I would share whatever had been dumped into my glass of milk that made me so chipper. Apparently not everyone shared my enthusiasm. At least not at 6a.m. Everyone is getting tired.
This is a day of progress. We will cover ground in 3 states by the time we come to rest tonight in Clovis, New Mexico. Considering we are starting out in Lawton, Oklahoma, I think that’s pretty cool. Most of us can no longer keep track of where we are and the words “Who’s on first?” has become a sort of one line barb aimed at describing the confusion we have all fallen victim to. We depend on each other to keep the days straight but few of us really know off the tops of our heads where we are. And without our route sheets, we have no idea what state, and certainly not the town, we are in. “I don’t know” is a common phrase.
There are 292 miles for today’s route. We’ll cross over into Texas before noon. Temperatures reached the triple digits yesterday, and the same is expected today.
I’ll let you know how everybody does.
Buzz Kanter Reports: End of Stage 9
Written by Buzz Kanter
Monday, 20 September 2010 11:43
Photos by Felicia Morgan
Couldn't sleep this morning and just checked the ranking for Stage 9 of the Motorcycle Cannonball yesterday and there are still 12 of us holding perfect scores with 1833 miles covered. I am ranked #8 still.
Before getting back on the road today I have to write my monthly column for American Iron Magazine and have so many things to say and share I simply can't sleep this morning regardless of how exhausted I am from the ride so far.
We are more than half way across now and the riders are getting more and more tired with every passing day. In contrast the machines seem to be running better as the riders and mechanics are fine tuning them over the many miles.
Today is a long hot 293 mile ride from Lawton, OK to Clovis, NM.
Yesterday Cris Sommer-Simmons blew out a rear tire but she is back on the road and ready for today. Two days ago Frank Westfall rode his stunning Henderson Four off the road. Minor damage to bike and rider and he is back on the road. My new pal JIm Petty is having a tough time with his beautiful Indian twin blowing out parts and searching all over the country for replacements to overnight and try to get back in the ride.
So much to do for us all. Wish us luck and hope to see more friends - old and new - along the ride.
Last Updated on Monday, 20 September 2010 11:59
Bradford Wilmarth Holds On To The Lead at Stage 9
Written by Felicia Morgan
Monday, 20 September 2010 11:08
In case anyone out there is paying attention, Bradford Wilmarth has been holding steady in the number one position for several days now. Brad, a soft spoken and self-reliant man, is understandably happy with his placement but knows he has to stay road worthy and sharp minded to keep the bragging rights that go with this coveted daily title.
Cannonball riders took advantage of facilities at the Old Fort H-D dealership’s shop in Fort Smith, AR on Saturday and tuned, tinkered and tightened everything imaginable on their bikes in order to keep the prehistoric relics functioning for the next few hundred miles. The shop employees aided riders with whatever they needed (including dinner), but mostly they just hung out trying to soak up the cool vibe emitted by the vintage bikes and to help the dinosaur jockeys ready their rides any way they could.
Bradford, of course, took the time with his bike to make sure he stays number one. He’s had some trouble with the bike’s gas tank early on. Seems his separated tank was leaking internally, so the oil and gas were blending together and upsetting the native Virginian’s 1913 Excelsior engine. He seems to have that rectified now, but in case it flares up again, he does have a contingency plan.
In fact, Brad seems to have it all figured out. He’s had the motorcycle for 20 years, but it’s been sitting dormant for most of those. As the winner or not, once he rolls victoriously onto the Santa Monica pier next Sunday, he’ll load his bike up to be trailered back to Virginia while he boards a plane to visit his mother then flies home to his wonderful family.
When Wilmarth first started talking about doing the Motorcycle Cannonball, his wife politely, but under no uncertain terms, simply said “No way”. He’s the father of two young daughters who he plans to watch grow up and then provide a college education for and she reminded him of that fact.
Brad believed his lovely wife just didn’t understand the situation, so he asked her to view the Motorcycle Cannonball’s website www.motorcyclecannonball.com and then they’d talk. After 5 minutes of scanning the site, she stated, “You have to do this. There’s just no way you can miss it.”
And so here he is and he hasn’t missed a thing. As a matter of fact, he has other entrants in his wake and Bradford is headed for the finish line with determination streak four lanes wide. We all hope you are there to witness that determination for yourself and shake the hand of all the riders that make it across the finish line in Santa Monica, Ca on September 26.