The morning air was cool and foggy as the riders headed out into the narrow winding West Virginia back roads. Today we only got 8 pages of typed driving instructions instead of the 12 pages we got on day one and the 13 pages for day two. It looks like the hills won’t be so steep. Elevations will range from 500 to 1500 feet. The course is 218 miles with a hosted lunch stop at S&P Harley Davidson in Williamstown, WV. People were happy to be to the road. Several of the riders stayed with their crews to work on their bikes. I was 12 miles into the course before I saw the first bike pulled over. I helped the rider figure out where we were and continued on. Funny that as I would happen upon a rider I could smell them before I saw them.
The fog had lifted and the sun was rapidly warming the air when I saw Kelly Modlin, #24 at mile marker 36. in the shade of a semi trailer being used a billboard. Just two miles later Joseph Gimble, #8 was pulled over waiting for his bike to cool down before finishing a hill. As I continued, scanning for more stopped riders I pondered how difficult this ride is on both rider and machine but wondered what it must have been like many years ago when people first attempted long distance rides like this. Today we have many paved roads and we stay in hotels. We have chase vehicles and support staff. I wondered if we only heard about the successful cross country ventures and wondered how many unsuccessful attempts there were. I was jarred back to reality when I saw Rich Rau, #94 from Oregon at mile marker 52 and then Herbert Ullrich from Germany, #61 at mile marker 56. He was finishing a repair and a couple locals were excited about having this visitor in their neighborhood! We watched him ride off and I explained what the Motorcycle Cannonball is.
I pulled into our hosted lunch stop and the dealership was buzzing with activity. They had parking attendants and spectators were enjoying the bikes. People were talking about a crazy guy who pulled in going fast on his bike and ran off the pavement and into the bushes. I asked them to point out the bike and I laughed. It was just Doug Feinsod, #18 from California on his Thor. He’s kinda like that….. fortunately he wasn’t hurt! S&P Harley Davidson put on a good spread for lunch and the support crew all gathered at one table together to share stories of the day so far.
At mile marker 172 I found Vinnie Grasser from Florida, #95 with a broken chain. We found a wider section of shaded shoulder of the road. He had just fixed the chain 1 mile earlier and he was hoping to find another master link in his bag of tools. Sure enough, he found one that worked. As we sat on the road chatting two locals walked up to us with a bottle of water and two cans of soda pop. They stayed to talk and were delighted to have stumbled upon something so unique. We watched Vinnie ride off and we chatted a few more minutes before I headed out. I wanted to give him a head start in case that chain came off again. He was doing just fine when I passed him a few miles down the road. The newly blacktopped winding road on Hwy 56 in Ohio took us through Coonsville and close to our landing spot in Chillicothe. Now for a busy night of wrenching in the parking lots 😉