Pre-1916 Motorcycle Cannonball Run Underway
Monday, September 13, 2010
Fans get an up-close peek at one of the motorcycles entered in the 2010 Motorcycle Cannonball endurance run.
Racers, start your engines. If you can. You see, this Motorcycle Cannonball Run is a race of different breed. All motorcycles participating in this cross country run have to be Pre-1916, so kicking an engine that’s almost 100 years old is going to require more skill and determination than merely pushing a button.
With Michael Lichter clicking away, 45 riders lined up with their vintage motorcycles at 10 a.m. on Friday morning in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, for the first 165-mile leg of the commemorative 2010 Pre-1916 Motorcycle Cannonball
endurance run. Lichter will be documenting the historic race and taking pictures of the riders with his cameras while facing them backwards on a 1953 rigid Panhead.
He and artist David Uhl
corroborated on a surprise for the winners of the Motorcycle Cannonball Run’s Class Two and Three winners, an original painting by Uhl commemorating the start of the race based on a photograph shot by Lichter. The oil on canvas will be presented to the Class 2 winner while another original piece in honor of the race’s namesake, E.G. “Cannonball” Baker, will be presented to the Class 3 winner. Talented sculptor and custom bike builder, Jeff Decker, created a one-off bronze sculpture as the Cannonball’s top prize.
It will be a grueling 17-day adventure covering 3,294 miles in a route across the Southern states and ending in Santa Monica, California. Most rides are 250 miles or shorter on a fairly flat route over rural and side roads, avoiding freeways.
Even though they’ve only completed three stages, according to the official event website it has already been filled with “breakdowns and setbacks, frustration and stress, exhaustion as well as excitement.” The third stage was the first that included any climbing as riders headed to the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Appalachians. Of the 45 motorcycles that started the contest only 17 of them have completed all 595 miles so far. The leader of the first two stages, Katrin Boehner, a native of Germany, dropped down to 18th in the third stage while her husband, Dieter Eckel, catapulted to the top position.
This race isn’t so much about winning as it is about the camaraderie shared and the spirit of competition. It pays tribute to motorcycling pioneers who crossed our country on these vintage machines almost 100 years ago on motorcycles with sputtering carbs, temperamental valves and malfunctioning magnetos. The run will test both rider and machine unlike anything most of them have ever attempted before. But what a story they’ll have to tell when it’s all said and done.
The Motorcycle Cannonball Run is broken into several classes:
Class 1 is for single-cylinder, single-speed motorcycles and includes nine bikes.
Class 2 consists of multi-cylinder, single-speed motorcycles and has eight bikes entered in it.
Class 3 includes multi-cylinder, multi-speed motorcycles and is the largest field with 28 entrants.
Follow along with daily reports and pictures from the scene at Motorcycle Cannonball Run.com
who’s doing an outstanding job of covering the event. There’s also a route guide on the site, so check it out to see if the run will be sputtering by anywhere close to you. If it is, be sure to get out and cheer on the riders who will need all the support people can muster. It’s going to be a long, hard trip. We tip our hats to all riders who have embarked on this epic adventure.
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