2018 Cannonball: Into the Flatlands
BOURBONNAIS, ILL (Sept 12, 2018) – The 2018 Motorcycle Cannonball Endurance Run moved Wednesday 260 miles from the rolling hills of northern Ohio into the flatlands of northern Indiana and finally just inside the state of Illinois. While theoretically the billiard-table terrain traversed today should be easier on the machines in the event, the attrition rate diminished only slightly. And today the toll was not only taken on machines, but on riders as well.
Riders left Bowling Green, Ohio, on a cool morning. By the time the they began crossing the border into Indiana the Hoosier sunshine broke through and it ended up being a comfortable day of riding with competitors shedding layers by the hour.
Riding an Historic Highway
The route took scenic backroads and at times used parts of the historic Lincoln Highway, one of the earliest transcontinental highways across America. Conceived in 1912 by Indiana entrepreneur Carl G. Fisher, who also was one of the investors who built the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Lincoln Highway was formally dedicated October 31, 1913 and ran coast-to-coast from Times Square in New York City west to Lincoln Park in San Francisco.
It was only appropriate that a cadre of Cannonball riders piloted sections of the historic highway on their antique machines, some that even pre-dated the highway.
Worst Tumble of the Run
Texan Mike Carson took a heavy tumble when he couldn’t avoid his son Buck, who fell on the lip of a freshly paved road. Buck said he was a little beat up, but the accident will take his dad Mike out of the running. Buck’s bike also suffered some major damage. It’s not clear if he’ll be able to make the repairs to stay in the contest. Mike suffered a broken collarbone and some cracked ribs. He was released from the hospital this afternoon and will ultimately be fine, but just make sure not to tell him any jokes for the next month or so.
Streaking Past Roselawn
The route today took riders past the entrance to the Ponderosa Sun Club in Roselawn, Indiana, a world-famous nudist resort. The resort became known in the 1970s for hosting the annual Miss Nude America contest. Unfortunately, the resort was not one of the stops on the route, but motoring past the Sun Club prompted Cannonball support staffer Tom Hinderholtz to come up with one of the best one-liners of the run so far when he quipped, “The beauty pageants at Roselawn were ahead of their time. They got rid of bathing suits a long time ago!”
Build It and They Will Come
The lunch stop on Tuesday was hosted by Kersting’s Cycle Center & Museum in Winamac, Indiana. Hundreds of fellow motorcyclists were on hand to greet the riders of the Cannonball and a delicious lunch of steak sandwiches, au gratin potatoes, fresh fruit and scrumptious homemade cookies was served by friendly greeters.
Kersting’s is motorcycling’s version of the “Field of Dreams”. A massive motorcycle shop and vintage bike museum that is literally built in the middle of nowhere. “If you build it and they will come,” certainly applies in this case.
Kersting's Cycle Center has grown to 27,000 sq. ft. of showroom and service space. They need every bit of space it can find because of Jim's Kersting's vintage collection, which boasts more than 100 bikes...and is still growing. "I've got them from Ariel to Zundapp," he says on his website. "No duplications. They all run, too, even the ones up in the rafters. All I have to do is put in gas and oil. I don't want them if they don't run."
It was truly a sight to see as the Cannonball contingent rolled onto this remarkable dealership.
Good Old Fashioned Ingenuity
In one of the most remarkable instances of roadside repair work ever witnessed, early in the day we came upon Ryan Allen’s sidelined 1916 Indian Powerplus. Allen’s motorcycle was suffering rear sprocket problems that threatened to end his day. But stepping up to the rescue was fellow Cannonball contestant Clint Funderburg.
With a ‘never-say-die’ attitude Clint became the Cannonball’s MacGyver. Impressed onlookers got Clint to explain exactly what he was doing to repair Ryan’s Powerplus.
“Ryan sheered off all of his [sprocket] bolts, I won’t go into why,” he grinned. “So we’re tying his sprocket to the wheel using paracord and just to be safe we’re zip-tying the parachute cord ends so they don’t come undone. That’s very important.”
After completing the job Clint asked Ryan to put his bike in gear. Clint gave a couple of firm tugs to the back wheel and nodded, “That’s solid.”
Clint is the perfect riding companion. He’s a mechanic on commercial fishing vessels that go hundreds of miles off shore. We asked him if he ever had to improvise like that on the boats. “Only if we want to get home,” he wryly came back.
And when we reached Clint late this afternoon he confirmed that Ryan completed the day with the improvised repair. No word yet on weather Ryan will try to go all the way to Portland with Clint's “MacGyver fix.”
Takin’ It to the Streets
Can you imagine having a Doobie Brother wrenching on your bike? It’s not a stretch for Motorcycle Hall of Famer Cris Sommer Simmons since her husband is Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Famer Pat Simmons. If you’ve been following the Cannonball this year, you’ll know that Cris has been having a tough outing. The good news is she finished today. Cris was right down there elbow-deep in her 1915 Harley-Davidson 11J along with Pat and fellow Cannonballer Dave Minerva getting the bike running again late in the run. Their efforts were a success and Cris kick started her Harley after a few tries and was back on the road to the finish in Bourbonnais.
Momma Told Me There’d Be Days Like This
Among the riders we came across experiencing issues today were Michael Gontesky with a distributor coming loose on his 1925 Harley JD. Michael nearly got the timing right when putting it back together without taking off the side cover to see the timing marks, it started but didn't run quite good enough to put it back on the road.
Ciro Nisi had to load his 1919 Harley-Davidson F on the trailer with a flat front tire.
Justin Rinker was stopped roadside with a broken magneto shaft on his Indian Powerplus.
Those were just a few of the breakdowns we witnessed today. Here’s to better luck for all these competitors on Thursday as the run moves west across Illinois.
That wraps up just a bit of what went down Wednesday on the Cannonball. Stay tuned right here for daily updates as the riders snake there way cross country on the backroads of America. -- Larry Lawrence
Thursday, September 13 Stage 6 (229 miles)
8:00; 8:15; 8:30 AM CDT: Official Start Times for Classes I, II, III; Holiday Inn Express
12:00 noon: Lunch, Workman Harley-Davidson, Rock Falls, Illinois
4:00; 4:15; 4:30 PM: Finish Times for Classes III, II, I; National Motorcycle Museum, Anamosa, Iowa
4:00 PM: Dinner, National Motorcycle Museum
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