I finally started going through some of my GoPro vids and iphone pics…… they are all in my Google Album here…..
Cannonball 2018 scroll to the bottom to see the more recent stuff.
But here is a direct link to some on-bike action……
It’s all good – very tired after 294 Miles today and 314 yesterday but we came in with time to spare.
We saw the Badlands and Mount Rushmore – lots of pics and vids to process. Maybe tomorrow as it’s a rest day! Yaayyy!
The longest stage at over 314 Miles took us just under nine hours including gas stops. We arrived an hour and fifteen minutes before our class arrival time.
About 30 Miles out of Pierre, there was a handwritten sign saying “M/C Cannonball – 1/2 way!” so I guess the means we’ve done over half the 3,694 distance.
This will be a short blog….. lots to do tonight and not much time to do it in. The bikes were in Parc Fermé until 6pm at the Indian factory here in Spirit Lake and then we had to ride to our hotel before letting the crew at the bikes. Tomorrow’s stage is 314 miles and the next day is 294 so we really need to prep the bikes for two back to back long hauls.
In the lovely cool of the morning, we ran fast from the get-go, as we knew it would get hot in the afternoon – 85F/30C. Iowa has even more corn than Illinois but still had some very picturesque scenery and towns. What was really charming was to see Amish kids walking along the road to school carrying their lunch boxes, and they all waved madly as we drove by. We also saw several buggies with Mum or Dad dropping off the kids.
Lunch was in Mason City and then it was basically straights and rights and lefts as we negotiated the checkerboard of vast fields. This is a big, big country.
We have an official photographer – Michael Lichter – who rides pillion but sitting backwards on a big Harley. He met up with us and choreographed the three Silver Nortons into a tight formation for a group shot. We were jockeying the four bikes – his and ours – at 45mph and I swear I could have reached out and cleaned his damn lens. We must have ridden like that for miles – I was drenched with sweat by the time he finished – he is definitely particular (and it shows in the quality of his shots).
Anyway, we rolled into the Indian factory five minutes before the specified earliest check-in time – along with the Triumph guys. A great day.
Some photos follow with colour commentary……
Award for most creative use of safety wire and mole wrenches to stop a BMW cylinder head from parting company.
Delirious with boredom, two CB riders attempt to recreate a Busby Berkeley musical from the 30’s using period correct motorcycles.
Three happy riders.
Two Triumphs and three Nortons arrayed at Spirit Lake.
So the good news is that #115 and #116 completed the stage successfully. The less good news is that Richard’s #77 did not. After a great run in the morning in very pleasant temps – we fetched up at the HD dealership in Rock Falls IL, where we received a warm welcome.
We left on schedule but it didn’t take long for the 1915 bike to lose power and slow to a pace that looked very unlikely to make the finish line. Keith and I hung with Richard as long as we could – but at 415pm he very firmly gave us team orders to book. So we duly booked and made it to the finish with 12 minutes to spare.
The problem with his bike was diagnosed as a broken tappet guide and the team are working diligently to resolve.
Which is an appropriate segue…… so these blog posts have focused on the bikes and the stages – but what is happening behind the scenes? How is the sausage made?
So the day starts with someone getting up at 5am to start the crockpot of porridge – only the best steel cut oats. We gather at the trailer to eat around 6am-7am depending on the stage start time, and the riders start getting ready, while the crew pull the bikes off the trailer. The crew being Ryan, Grady (Scott), Felix, Reid, Mark and of course Alton!
The riders go to event control to get the route for the day – a long strip of paper that is mounted to the rollers in the map box and is fiddly in the extreme to manage. Then the riders depart and now the crew have to tidy up whatever is not already loaded – and then drive to the stage finish by a direct and different route. We are talking three trucks, two of which are towing the workshop trailer and the equipment trailer.
Depending on the stage – they will arrive as early as noon and they will set up in the parking lot of whichever hotel we are staying in – and get room keys for the entire team. Set up is no small deal – two 12 x 15 canopies, tables and chairs, coolers, three bike lifts, lighting, etc etc. Then the riders will arrive at stage end and the bikes are hustled into the lifts, the oil is drained, the bikes are thoroughly cleaned top to bottom, clearances are checked, oil and fuel replenished, pivots and bushings greased – and all mechanical issues addressed.
At some point food is either delivered or we go to a nearby restaurant. Based on experience so far, the crew will spend some time helping other teams – especially Ryan since he is a welder and fabricator par excellence.
At the end of the evening, the bikes are loaded in the trailer, the canopies are taken down and everything loaded back in the trailers ready for tomorrow’s early start. So, as you can see, the crew are working one hell of a lot harder then I am.
By the way, you can read all the bios in the Team section of the blog site.
We left Bowling Green in a dry overcast and cool temps but we knew it was going to warm up and dressed accordingly. Remember – there is no such thing as bad weather – just inappropriate clothing.
We made steady progress – through a checkerboard of straight roads and cornfields. Side note – there’s a LOT of corn in these parts. I wouldn’t recommend taking corn on the cob to a potluck in these parts.
The bikes did what they should – ran just great, with the metronomic beat of big singles. We had a significant delay due to a four mile stretch of roadworks but the organizers extended the finish time to compensate. It turned out that we (and many riders) did not need it.
On the side roads – we never saw a “Welcome to Indiana” sign so it’s a bit of a surprise to realise that we crossed an entire state today – especially at a cruising speed of 45.
The sag wagon did good business today – also know as the Grim Sweeper. One trailer was nearly filled and the second had one or two. So not a good day for breakdowns. Disheartening for Brit iron fans was that Arrie on his Triumph suffered a nail that went into the tyre and out the sidewall. So it wasn’t roadside repairable -meaning a loss of points – which in turn means the Class II 90 Division now only has four Brit bikes leading and not five.
More bad news is that the orange NeraCar (pictured below) took a tumble and bent the steering – not sure if it will run tomorrow or not. Worst – two riders went down on the roadwork section – father and son Mike and Buck Carson. Word is that Mike has broken ribs and collarbone – looks like Buck completed the stage so presumably he is still in.
Over the day, the overcast changed to a Simpson’s Sky and then even the clouds melted away and we rode in 80F/27C. We had a stop at Kersting’s Cycle Centre and Museum. We’d had a slight hiatus with a roadside repair for a leaking tank so we only had time for a quick bite to eat – and didn’t get to check out the museum.
But what was really great is an old mate rode over from Indianapolis – Denny Henderson – whom I hadn’t seen in about 10 years! We used to ride to a lot of Triumph RAT Raids across the country and meet up. So we had about 20 minutes to shoot the breeze – then Team Norton mounted up and finished the ride to the end of the stage.
Side note: it’s fascinating how all-consuming this event becomes. Someone asked me from where we’d started this morning and I could not immediately answer. If they’d asked me how we’d done, how I found the roads, where we keep the 50 weight oil, etc etc then I could have given chapter and verse. But something as simple as “where did you start from?” or even “what day is it?” – nope, couldn’t do it.
And all is good. The Silver Nortons ran really well – this was the longest stage completed at 273 miles – we made three fueling stops.
We started in mild temps – 60F/15C – but it quickly cooled with what you might call a wet mist or a sprinkle. Enough to raise a slight rooster tail of spray off the tyres. Every now and then there’d be a tantalizing glimpse of blue but it stayed overcast until afternoon.
Occasionally, we’d be mixed with the other riders, but mostly it was just the three of us. We saw the three Triumph riders a few times – I think that they also elected for fueling stops only – since we cruise at less than many of the multi-cylinder bikes participating. Although Keith’s GPS reported a max speed of 60+ when on a downhill and preparing for a long uphill!
The countryside gradually flattened and the roads straightened as we rode into Ohio. The sun came out properly as the afternoon progressed. Here’s a funny thing – I couldn’t even begin to tell you the route we took without looking at a map afterwards. The navigation chart focuses on turn by turn instructions and not place names – so between that and making sure I’m doing everything right by the bike – I have no time to read the “Welcome to X Population Y” signs.
But there is always time to see the scenery and we definitely saw some very pretty villages and towns.
My front brake is wearing in nicely. When I started it literally could not stop me pushing the bike against it. Now I can use it to modulate speed coming up to stops, and so save the rear brake for the unexpected. Keith reports the same.
Arriving in Bowling Green, we were again greeted by enthusiastic crowds. We lined the bikes up and we got a lot of attention. Best of all – Suzi Greenway the INOA President turned up plus three local Norton chapters – heard so much about her and it was an absolute pleasure to meet up. It’s definitely one of the highlights to meet fellow enthusiasts.
The sun is setting, we are now on Central time, and the team is a well oiled machine…… in more than one sense where some folks are concerned. But no names, no pack drill !
Early days of course but the main thing is we haven’t dropped any points. In fact there are 75 bikes that can say the same thing.
So – within those 75 – the rankings take into account class, division and age. Class I are single cylinder/single speed, Class II are either single cylinder/multi-speed or multi-cylinder/single speed. Class III are multi-cylinder/multi-speed. Our bikes are single cylinder with three speed transmissions.
So Richard is in Class II, Century Division with his 1915, and Keith and I are in Class II, 90+ Division with our ’24 and ’23 respectively.
Meaning that Keith and I are 3rd and 2nd in our 90 division with a 1920 Triumph ahead of us as it’s older. Coincidentally it’s the one we helped by offering our mill/lathe to turn a new chain tensioner. Overall we are 17th and 16th with the other two Triumphs behind us – again by dint of their relative youth. It’s fun to have the Brit iron rivalry but it’s also cool that we are working together.
Richard is in 12th overall but faces a stiff battle in the Century Division due to the presence of the big vee-twins and four cylinder machines. They can cruise at a considerably higher speed – as much as 15-20mph – which gives them much more time to solve the unexpected. If the classes had stayed in the specifications previously announced – where all that counted was the number of cylinders – Richard would now be in fourth place!