September 28, 2014
There seems to be a fair amount of confusion about the Motorcycle Cannonball. First off, it is a competition but NOT a race. It could best be described as a timed and controlled endurance run (more detail in a moment). It has been held just three times, first in 2010 (for pre-1916 motorcycles) from Kitty Hawk, NC to Santa Monica, CA. The second one (for pre-1930 motorcycles) was from New York to San Francisco, CA. And the most recent one was (for pre-1937 motorcycles) from Daytona Beach, FL to Tacoma, WA.
The admission fee, which has climbed significantly (to $2,500 per machine for the last one) covers the admission and various support functions. Each rider (and team support staff) has to supply their own bikes, parts, spares, gas, food and hotels. The hotels and discount room prices are arranged by the Motorcycle Cannonball staff but must be confirmed and paid for by the riders. So this is not an inexpensive deal.
At the end of each day, all riders are given the following day’s route sheets (printed on paper that can be as few as 8 pages and as much as 22 pages, depending on the route and number of turns planned). Most riders has purpose built roll charts mounted up for this purpose. We are also told the evening before when the next day’s official start time is (by class), how many miles we will cover, when the first scheduled gas stop is and minimum and maximum height over sea level we will be riding that day.
SCORING. A rider gets a point for every mile ridden each day on course IF he (or she) leaves the start of the day on schedule, arrives at the end of the day on schedule and travels the entire distance under his or her own motorcycle’s power. If you are late you lose points. If your bike brakes and you can not fix it enough to ride to the end of day you lose a point for every mile you do not ride that day. You can fix your own bike with parts and tools you have or can obtain from other riders or strangers. You are not allowed to ride with or deal with a support mechanic on the ride.
At the end of each day the scores and ranking are announced and posted at the “host hotel” for the day. The way this works is basically like this: Points (not necessarily miles) are the initial ranking criteria. Then, in case of ties, Class I bikes (smallest displacement) rank higher than Class 2 (medium size displacement engines), which rank higher than Class 3 (largest displacement). Then the older motorcycle ranks higher than a newer one. In case there are still ties the older rider scores higher than a younger one.
If you DNF (Did Not Finish) a day on the Motorcycle Cannonball, that’s bad. If you DNF too often you are disqualified from finishing. ALSO if you and your bike does not start and finish the last day on schedule you are penalized as a DNF for the entire event. This year (2014) and amazing 25% of the riders finished the event with DNF status. And what do the winners get? The top ranked rider took home a wonderful bronze motorcycle statue, a few other riders got amazing Michael Lichter yardlong photos, and the rest of us get little more than amazing memories, the feeling of accomplishment and some great new friends and stories.
For more information please visit www.MotorcycleCannonball.com or you can read about some of the exploits and adventures in American Iron Magazine or www.aimag.com. Click on PRINT to subscribe in print or on DIGITAL for a digital delivery subscription.
August 19, 2014
As I continue to fine tune my 1936 Harley VLH there are basically two areas I am still focusing on – the carburetor and the oiling.
This is what the plugs looked like a few days ago. The near white insulators tell me it is running too lean. So I adjusted the high speed needle 3 clicks richer and checked – still a bit lean. So I fattened the carb up 3 more clicks and the plugs look a lot better. (See below)
Now that I have the plugs looking about right (at least for the conditions here in Connecticut) I need to focus on getting the total loss oiling system dialed in on my rebuilt 1936 Harley VLH. I leave in less than 2 weeks for the start of the Motorcycle Cannonball. This year we are riding over 4,000 miles from Daytona Beach, FL to Tacoma, WA.
I will be riding this bike as part of the four vintage Harleys (2 JDs and 2 VLs) Adventure Power’s Team American Iron. Wish us luck.
You can read about the building of this motorcycle in American Iron Magazine – available in print (back issues at www.Greaserag.com) or in digital delivery.
August 10, 2014
The third running of the coast-to-coast Motorcycle Cannonball is less than a month away and this one is going to be amazing. Covering over 4,000 miles it runs from Daytona Beach, Florida to Tacoma, Washington. (Map and details at www.MotorcycleCannonball.com).
My plan is to ride this totally rebuilt 1936 Harley VLH. We rebuilt it from one end to the other at Retrocycle in Boonton, NJ and followed the progress in the pages of American Iron Magazine.
In addition to rebuilding the chassis and entire drivetrain, we installed an amazing and virtually invisible Retrocycle 12 volt upgraded electrical system so I can actually use the lights to see and be seen. Our team sponsor and battery supplier is Adventure Power, the tires are from Continental, synthetic oil from Amsoil, and general support from the folks at Wheels Through Time.
There are four bikes and riders on this year’s team, name Adventure Power’s Team American Iron – American Iron Magazine columnist, and return Cannonballer Cris Sommer-Simmons on a 1930s Harley VD, her husband and rock star (Doobie Brothers) Pat Simmons on a 1929 Harley JD, 3 time Cannonballer Paul Ousey on his 1925 Harley JD and me – publisher of American Iron Magazine, Motorcycle Bagger and Motorcycle magazine, on this 1936 Harley VLH.
You can buy a blue or gray Support Staff t-shirt – while supplies last – to help support the team and get a cool shirt. Click SUPPORT to order yours.
You can follow our progress on Youtube on the Buzz Kanter channel HERE. I will attempt to upload new videos from the road every few days if I get the opportunity.
Here is a “walk around” video of the bike https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbID_QviBx8