Chillicothe, Ohio, Sep 13—The Motorcycle Cannonball is, without doubt, the most unique motorcycle run in the world. And those are big words, even in the world of overstated grandeur, but I offer you proof. No other promoter in history has ever organized a transcontinental run on any conveyance—be it on four wheels, two wheels, plane or train—that includes vehicles 100-years old or older. Yet here we are at the beginning of Stage 4 of the Race of the Century in Chillicothe, Ohio as we set off for the fourth day of a 16-day Odyssey that encompasses 3,304 miles of backroads across America.
Disasters have been plenty. From the seaside boards of the famous Atlantic City boardwalk, riders hit the asphalt and rode off into a sweltering triple-digit day that did no favors to the geriatric engines. Or their riders. Before the pack rolled across the daily finish line the sweep trucks would be full, riders crews would be back-tracking to retrieve their motorcycles and one machine would be reduced to a pile of charcoal.
Rider #36, John Pfeiffer from Texas, watched in terror as his 1916 H-D burned along the roadside somewhere between Maryland and Pennsylvania. Considering the route took the pack through four states, it’s hard to keep track of which border the bonfire had crossed.
By day two the route led the group out of the city and up into the beautiful Appalachian mountains where riders with smaller engines struggles with the steep inclines. Towards the end of the day Scott Jacob, the famous Harley-Davidson painter, hit a patch of gravel and wound up in the hospital awaiting surgery on his broken shoulder.
Day three found more disasters but the pack has found a bit of a rhythm. Of the original 90 entrants, only 27 hold perfect scores but everyone continues to try. The spirit of Cannonball Baker shines anew each day as every rider makes it to the starting line, whether it’s for the daily ride or to cheer on their friends, and that brotherhood is what makes the Cannonball so magic.
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