So the trucks, trailers and team are home…. another Cannonball is done and it’s time to do the laundry.
If you didn’t already know it – the Crew were phenomenal – they really, really worked so hard each and every day. Up at 530am, out to the pits about 630am, unload the bikes from the trailer, check them over and warm them up. Fit the GPS’s and help the riders with their maps – it’s a fiddly job installing them in the maps boxes. Then, even as the bikes leave the start line, the trucks and trailers are rolling several hours to the stage finish line, find a decent spot, set up the pits (two large canopies, one 10×10, tables, chairs, generator, bike lifts etc etc). Check in all the crew and riders at the hotel – get room keys. Then maybe a hurried lunch and an hour or so to get personal stuff done.
Then the bikes roll in, talk to each rider, get a report, drain and assess the oil. Each bike goes on a lift, gets a complete check of every nut and bolt and a deep clean – because that’s how you find the problems. Cables and chains are adjusted/replaced, suspension points oiled/greased, pressures checked, tank refuelled and refilled with oil. And that is just the basic service! Maybe there’s cracks to be welded, engines to be rebuilt, clutches to be replaced. Grab supper – usually in the pits – and carry on working. The party canopy is going strong – lots of people wandering in and out, asking questions. Don’t get me wrong – that wasn’t a problem – but it all adds to the background noise.
Then – time to wrap – bikes are rolled off the lifts, which are stowed in the trailer. Tools and consumables put away, collapse the canopies and put away, tables and chairs put away, bikes rolled into the trailer – now the pits are all buttoned up…. until tomorrow. Now it’s time to drag Richard to bed.
Now do that every day for 17 days – the only people who work like this are roadies and fair-hands. It’s fun but it’s hard……..
But wait, there’s more! Team Norton and Big D Cycle pride themselves on helping out other riders, other teams. It was a rare night that Ryan or someone wasn’t welding a bike frame or engine mount, or machining a part, or doing something to help out fellow-Cannonballers.
So – this is the time to say Thank You to the guys who really got it done:
Ryan Ambrose (Crew Chief), Scot ‘Grady’ Aday, Mark Zenor, Reyes ‘Rey’ Jimenez, Hunter Garrison, Larson Statham, Reid Schulz, Alton Gillespie.
As the chronicler of Team Norton’s journey – it’s my honour to thank and congratulate my fellow-riders: Stewart Garrison, Keith Martin and Richard Asprey. We all helped each other and I had a lot of laughs with these guys, no one I’d rather ride with.
Richard is the man who makes things jump – he did this in 2016 and being the gracious and kind person he is, he brought along his friends so that they could join in the fun in 2018 and 2021. None of this would have happened without him, and I owe him a huge debt of gratitude for offering me #115 to ride.
All the Cannonballers are awesome but I’d like to call out some especially: Victor Boocock who comes from a part of Lancashire near and dear to me, as my Mum was raised there, and whose stamina and puckish good humour are nothing short of amazing. He did all this at the age of 79! Scott Byrd – Mayor of Arkadelphia and who is now Lord Mayor – as Richard knighted him at the side of the road with a bag of beef jerky. Steve Rinker who is a fireball in human form – and along with his boys Jared & Justin – is always ready for riding and partying. Jon Neuman – from our part of the world here in North Texas. Jon and Jaci Dobbs from Wisconsin – great roadtrip comrades. Doug Feinsod who loaned me a can of WD40 – just in case – in the worst rainstorm imaginable.
Bartek Mizerski – who came all the way from Poland and was denied a perfect score only by a flat tyre. Ben Pierce who never lost his calm demeanour despite ferocious challenges including being his own mechanic as well as rider – piloting a 350cc Ner-A-Car which has astonishing performance and maintained a perfect score for over 3,000 miles only to be denied very close to the end – but he did make the finish! Finally – hats off to Dave Currier who won the Cannonball on his 1911 Harley 7A – single cylinder with leather belt drive. To pilot this across the country is a true feat of physical and mental endurance.
Then there are the Cannonball Organisers, Jason and LeeAnn Sims, and their dedicated team who worked so very hard to make this happen and to be a success. Thank you so very much. You can explore more about the team members at https://motorcyclecannonball.com/about/
Finally – the most important person to thank is my bride of 21 years – Monica. She has allowed me to go off and play in the traffic, with patience and good humour. She also rode on the back of #115 when we participated in the Arkansas Musketball in 2020 – 220 miles that included 70-odd miles of horrendous dirt roads – sat on the toolbox with nothing but a cushion bought from Walmart as a seat.
For me, the sun doesn’t set or rise, without her.
I may write another post just about #115: I’m in awe of a machine that is so reliable, so easy to ride and has run through every season of weather without demur – but for now – see you down the road.