Motorcycle Cannonball 2014, Part I – Preview
By Buzz Kanter, photos by Michael Lichter, Jim Dohms, and Buzz Kanter
Part I: 3,938 Miles of Blood, Sweat & Gears
The ride is almost 4,000 miles from Daytona Beach, Florida, to Tacoma, Washington. If the bikes — all 1936 and older machines —have mechanical issues, other riders could help without losing points, but team mechanics can’t help as they follow a different route from point to point. If you think this is fun, you’re right. If you think it’s easy, think again.
This was the third running of the Motorcycle Cannonball, a timed endurance event for antique motorcycles that will push even the most experienced rider to his physical and mechanical limits. Some 101 motorcycles were officially recognized as starting the event in Daytona Beach. Seventeen days and 3,938 miles later, 72 of us were considered finishers in Tacoma. Along the way, we encountered some of the most stunning and mind-numbing experiences a motorcyclist is ever likely to encounter. While most of the riders, including me, were focused on getting our antique motorcycles and ourselves across the country with minimal drama, some were focused on winning this event.
Yes, this was a competition with a complete set of rules and scoring procedures. In terms of scoring, you earn a point for every mile ridden provided you make it to the start and finish lines at the scheduled times. If you get lost, run out of gas, or break down, you can do what you need to make it up as long as no one from your support team helps you. If you switch riders, you lose points. If you swap engines, you lose points. If you leave a hosted event early, you lose points. In addition, if you DNF (do not finish) more than seven days, or the last day, you were disqualified and listed as DNF for the entire event. In the event of a tie (and there were many), Class I motorcycles (700cc or smaller engine displacement) beat Class II (701cc to 1000cc), which, in turn, beat Class III (1001cc or larger displacement). After that, the next tiebreaker was the age of the motorcycle: the older one beats the newer one. In case of a tie where the bikes are in the same class and the same age, the tiebreaker is the age of the rider, with the older rider beating the younger one. Got it?
After covering the planned 3,938 miles, an impressive 32 riders covered them all on course, but, due to scoring issues, only 24 were considered as perfect scores. The others were penalized points for various reasons. This year’s overall winner was …
Riveted yet? The full version of this story appears in Issue #318 of American Iron Magazine, on sale 12/9/14!