Saturday, September 06, 2014

MOTORCYCLE CANNONBALL: HERE WE GO AGAIN

First Brough Superior on Daytona's banking?  Maybe...
At 3938 miles, there isn't a vintage motorcycle event which compares; unless old bikes start running the Paris to Peking rally, there isn't likely a tougher group run on the horizon.  And still, about 200 riders clamored for a spot on the Motorcycle Cannonball Endurance Run, and about half were turned away.  These riders were eager to spend thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars, and a month of their lives, to risk the destruction of a valuable 80+ year old motorbike, riding it all the way across the USA at an average riding speed of 50mph.  Not only that, the event has a rigorous schedule, with time checks and penalties for outside assistance, and typically runs on slow back roads, which take from 8:30am to 4:30pm to make 250-300 miles. Plus, riders encounter all the mediocre food you can imagine filling the diabetic waistline of America's Heartland, and the worst motel coffee.
Checking in at the Daytona Beach Resort
Any mojo in the original inspiration for this Run - an homage to Edwin 'Cannonball' Baker's epic cross-country runs of the 1910s and 20s - has long since been superseded by the emerging logic of the Cannonball itself. It has become its own event, with its own legends and attractions.
The rules say, 'pre-1937', so this chopper was built for the event using a '36 EL Knucklehead engine and '34 VL frame.  Cheeky.  Sean Duggan concocted this plan on the last Cannonball in 2012, and made good on his promise.
This year's ride starts in Daytona, Florida, esteemed and historic site of many early motorcycle speed records, and the site of beach racing until 1962. It ends in Tacoma, Washington, 17 days later.  108 riders arrived in Daytona, with their support crew bringing the total circus to 265 souls.  50 of the riders were repeat customers, 58 were newbies, who really have no idea what to expect, or worse, think they know exactly what to expect.
A seriously hotted-up Harley VL, with twin carbs via re-ported barrels, as seen here.  A very cool special, perfectly in keeping with the period.
I'll keep you posted on progress, but here are shots of the 2 days prior to the start, with riders working furiously on their machines, and a few laps were granted around the banked oval of Daytona International Speedway, which is in the nearby town of Volusia.
Andrea Kaindl returns with his Excelsior-Henderson 4-cylinder
Buck Carson switched from BSA in 2012 to Harley VL power; 'I'm not going to push another bike to the finish line.'
Claudia Ganzaroli shows off her tattoo; 'My first bike, a Ducati 750 GT'.  Claudia is riding a sidevalve Frera single, as part of an Italian contingent.  There are also riders from Germany, Spain, Poland, Uruguay, Australia, England, Ireland, and probably more.
Dave Kafton full of beardliness
Gorgeous Moto Guzzi Normale with 'F-Head' single-cylinder motor
What do you say to a pair of wise-acres who bring 1936 Knucklehead choppers to the Cannonball?
Another exquisite Moto Guzzi; this one a Sport 15 with OHV engine.
Looking forward to a ride around the track on his JD Harley
The industry!  Photographer Michael Lichter, and blogger Cyril Huze
Yes, even a Nimbus, but this one is a spare.
The other '36 Knuck chopper, owned by Bill Buckingham; an exquisite piece of workmanship.
Curious plumbing on Shinya Kimura's 1915 Indian
Sean spraypaints his tanks and fender; gold of course, with a red fade.  
Doug Feinsod repeats his 2012 Cannonball with his Excelsior-Henderson
Having ridden the banking at Montlhery, I was surprised Daytona's banking has a sharp edge, and is much smaller (in height) than the French track.  We were expressly forbidden from riding the banking, unfortunately
The sweep of this track must look pretty different at 200mph
Shinya's 1915 Indian sports many unique modifications
OK, I just finished writing a history of choppers, and this machine is damn good.  Would I ride it across the USA?  Yep.
Michael Lichter shoots backwards!
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3 comments:

matt machine said...

great post paul...good luck.

Don OReilly said...

have yourself a time, Paul... I am so full of envy... NOT!

Seriously, best of luck to you, I hope you win! or at least finish!

Cheers,

Don

Don OReilly said...

have yourself a time, Paul... I am so full of envy... NOT!

Seriously, best of luck to you, I hope you win! or at least finish!

Cheers,

Don