Postscript

Well – we are back in Dallas, jonesing for porridge, granola bars and another stage……. the road goes ever on (to quote LOTR).

Anyway – I’ve added a few more of the most recent pics and a couple of vids – some onboard – to the Cannonball album.  You’ll see a lot of them if you scroll to the bottom.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/ZMmrDXvrYySCAVHy9

I’ve got a LOT of GoPro footage to process…..  but that will be another time.

 

 

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Made it

On a huge high…. more later.

Stage 15 – last day

The morning ritual of the maps…. feels weird to be collecting them as late as 1030am. Why do I feel nervous?

UPDATE. A fabulous 46 mile ride to the staging area. Out of The Dalles on a beautiful road called the Rowena Crest Highway with incredible views of the Columbia River. Simply amazing.

Then we crossed over the Columbia on the confusingly named Hood River bridge – and then travelled on the WA side to the Bridge of the Gods – and crossed back over to OR.

We are now parked in a staging area waiting the go – to ride back over to WA side and then to the Finish Line.

Stage 14 – harder than….

A really big bag of hard things.

300+ miles and everyone of them into the teeth of a savage headwind or even worse a gusting side wind. Bikes as light as these – 250lbs maybe 300 with all spares and fuel – are blown around like leaves.

Better yet, grinding long hills – sometimes several miles long – where I could not sustain third and had to drop to second. The trick is not to fight it – settle for sitting upright (have a good stretch) and not having to lie prone on the tank – and set the throttle at 25-27mph and plod up. Don’t even try for a change up until after the crest. In second gear these bikes can tackle anything.

My uninformed perception of WA was sequoias and redwoods. So it was with considerable surprise to see high rolling hills and downs – brown and treeless – but always with that incessant wind. Occasional granite outcrops made it feel wild and lonely.

As we progressed – it became apparent that WA is an industrial agricultural powerhouse of colossal size. Thousands of square miles of rolling croplands, treeless and never ending – it felt almost alien. The bikes were taking a pounding, slogging up long ascents and then a fast descent to build up speed for next inevitable uphill.

We then descended to a wide farmed plain and it became a parody of Mad Max – dust storms and high winds. They were harvesting the onion fields – and the dust and onionskins blew across the road – reducing visibility and bringing thoughts of spaghetti bolognaise recipes. I kicked a loose onion as I passed then wished I hadn’t. Like kicking a half brick.

We had a mandatory lunch time stop at a Harley Davidson dealership and I had to ask someone where we were as I genuinely had no clue. The turn by turn directions don’t give you place names. Anyway the really cool thing was some guys turned up from SoCal Norton – David Belleville (Agent Orange), Greg McBride and Norm Michaud.

It was after lunch that we had approx. 130 miles to go and the hard grind really started. I’ve already alluded to the hills and wind but suffice to say – there were times when I would have been nervous but I was too tired to worry.

We rode down the Columbia river – under other circumstances I would have been entranced by the scenery but I was too worried about the beating I was giving the bike. The finish line couldn’t come soon enough.

Did you read this far? Then you should know we made it.

We arrived a little past the scheduled time – but well within our cushion. I said half jokingly that if this had been the first stage then I might have changed my mind about doing the whole thing.

The SoCal guys were there and also Richard Bowman and his son James. Richard flew in from Dallas. It’s really cool that we’ve seen so many friends along the way.

One more stage…… very mixed feelings about tomorrow being the last one.

pics to follow……

Stage 13 – unlucky for some….

But not the Silver Nortons. Glorious weather and amazing scenery and roads.

We saw a black bear – Richard said it wanted a piece of him – last seen desperately trying to find a way through the fence to get away.

More later…..

Update!  To be clear, it was the bear trying to get through the fence, not Richard……

PS – we broke 3,000 miles today….

Results

Stage 12 – Epic ride thru Glacier NP

Probably the scenic highlight of the trip so far. Incredible sights and great fun – the three of us made it to Kalispell with time to spare.

We dressed for the cold and wet – lots of layers and technical gear. We were off under a leaden overcast in mid-forty temps (5-7C) and it was nearly two hours – beyond Choteau – when we were on a high plateau that the sun finally hit us among huge fields of hay. In the distance we could see a wall of mountains – the Rockies and the Great Continental Divide.

We spent our morning flying down great slopes and then lying prone as we climbed the opposite side. We ate a quick lunch in Browning and then set off on the rising road across the Glacier National Park called the Going to the Sun Road. We pushed against a heavy head wind – with occasional drops to second gear and then found it easier as we got between the mountains and alongside the lakes.

The scenery was magnificent – and as we steadily gained altitude towards Logan Pass – it became breathtaking. But no time to stop – we needed to maintain a safety margin of time in case of problems.

The west side of the pass is even more incredible than the east – and now we switched to engine braking as we descended a few thousand feet in golden sunshine but with light rain from high clouds. This is definitely a bucket list road to take.

As we came off the mountains, rain set in for sure – even becoming heavy at times. As we neared Kalispell the sun came out and we rode into town in the dry. Of all the stages – this one has tired me the most – probably because of the focus needed over the mountains and then the wet ride at the end. But we made it comfortably and all is good.

DCIM100GOPRO

Glacier Road open

From the riders email this am……

As of yesterday the National Park System has opened The Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park, if the weather permits we will be going over it. Please note that this is a very very challenging road, with Steeper inclines and steep drop offs with out much high safety ledges and very narrow roads.  if you take your time, be safe, and the roads are good it will be an experience.  If you have bad brakes a bike that is failing mechanically  and are afraid of heights i would not advise taking the road.

We are giving the option for riders to bypass this road if they wish, there is an alternative route that riders can take.  If you take the alternate road you will receive 12 less miles for the course

“Hmmm…. I’ll take the 12 points loss” said no Cannonballer ever!

Stage 11 – There’s no such thing as bad weather…..

There’s just inappropriate clothing.  If there was ever a stage to prove the adage, this one was it.  We started in 46F temps and it was expected to warm up to the fifties but in fact it remained resolutely below 42F and dipped to 36F at one point – that’s 5C and 2C respectively.  I’ve ridden in colder weather but not for over eight hours.

We started in a silvery overcast in busy downtown Billings rush hour (yuck) and soon climbed to the plateau above the city – I had to go to second gear at one point but that wasn’t as bad as poor Ben on the ’24 NeraCar who was pushing it up about a mile long hill.  There were potential fuel stops as soon as 40 and 50 miles – but we pushed through to 65 miles despite the coffee’s effect on the waterworks in the cold temps – and then went to 150-plus on the second stop.

To cap it off, misting rain started as we crossed the Lewis and Clark National Forest through the Little Belt Mountains – then held off then started again as we surmounted King’s Hill Pass at nearly 7400 feet.  On the far side – it became proper rain and then dried out as we came close to Great Falls – our destination.  If this sounds dreary, it wasn’t at all – all three of us really enjoyed it.  I joked that it was like riding in the Scottish Highlands – you are passing through incredibly spectacular country – it’s just that you can’t see it for the mist and drizzle.

The bikes don’t care about the weather – the colder the better – and they ran great.  We all had to reach for second about once or twice during the entire ride – but that was it – despite the huge climbs.  Mark showed me the plug from my bike afterwards and it was a great colour – proving the carb needle choice for altitude was spot on.

We still arrived 40 minutes early despite taking it deliberately easy – and we are now excited to hear that the National Park Service has opened the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park.  So it’s game on for tomorrow……

Leaving the hotel in Billings

passing a freight train

Silver Nortons take Stage 10

Fabulous ride today. Started in cool dry temps at 7am sharp. Foolishly I’d read the morning text from Cannonball Control as low 60 and high 70 instead of a high between 60-70. Consequently I rather underdressed. So once under way I was thinking “blimey it’s a bit parky” and looked at the Odometer which said 46F (8C) and thought “oh”.

But no worries – it soon warmed up to ideal temps and the scenery was great. As we moved into Montana the hills had a dusting of evergreens but in the lees and folds – following the numerous creeks – were deciduous trees that were already showing autumn colours. Then – as we neared Billings it reverted back to the brown rolling hills with very few trees.

The bikes ran steady all day – they love the cool air and consequently we run faster in the morning and then dial it back in the afternoon. I over-oiled again but hey – it’s better than under-oiling.

Coming over the hills into Billings – we went through some nice downhill sweepers. Managed it through judicious throttle control although we smelt some very hot brakes from the bikes in front!

For once I remembered to video our arrival but we’d arrived really early – nearly 90 minutes – and the crowds hadn’t arrived. So the footage is not very impressive. However the parking lot of the Billings HD dealership was milling before long.

On the way we passed through Crow Country – within half a mile of the Battle of Little Bighorn – and a very polite young Crow greeted us as we fueled up our bikes. He said how welcome we were to Crow Country and to be sure and have a good time, and mention our visit on any social media we used. So I am glad to do exactly that right here and now.

Pics and videos follow…..

God and Mammon…..

https://gopro.com/v/ELGWV2a0rpo0

This is using a Quik app which does stuff to your vid and then sets it to music. So don’t blame me….

UPDATE: doesn’t look like WordPress and Gopro Quik hosting play nicely together….  you can still see the video here – for what it’s worth:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/8KMsmH5s2oj4XS8w9

These are the videos that Quik used to make the one above…..

https://photos.app.goo.gl/guiFSALrYdp1Yx4E9

https://photos.app.goo.gl/dAKtHswvo6t34kkg9

(Click on the videos to get sound – why you should have to that I do not know)

Full tally of Ace Stickers went on the bike today. We’ll get Stage 10 stickers tomorrow after official results.

Some nicely polished helmets…..

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