The last day of the Biannual Motorcycle Cannonball was everything but easy. With only 102 miles to travel the riders started leaving at 7:45 am with the first challenge being a 20 mile , 5000 ft climb to the top of the San Bernadino mountain pass. Dubbed the “Palms to Pines” Highway, this route provided a scenic challenge that most overcame. I saw the chase vehicle picking up #104, Perry Ruiter from Canada at mile marker 5, next I saw Ciri Nasi #103 from Italy pushing his bike. Wow, this is going to be a hard climb for him! At mile marker #39 I stopped to visit with Linda Monahan, #39 from California as she awaited the trailer. At the top the morning air was cool, a welcome relief from the heat we had been experiencing.
As we descended the winds picked up and with that the dry desert sand provided a dust storm that made it feel like we were being sand blasted. Rocks, branches and sand on the road made conditions a bit less than safe! The sand was getting in my hair, eyes, everywhere! I stopped to put more clothes on and could barely get back on my bike due to the wind. We reached the bottom where traffic and heat beat up the riders one more time. The crowd at Temecula Harley Davidson was energized and it felt good to experience the cheering as riders entered. We were now just 35 miles from the end where some of these riders will make history! A police officer followed rider #29, Ryan Allen, in to see what was going on and when he heard he offered a Police Escort out of the congested busy area.
We rode the next 34 miles to a staging area. All of the starting and stopping is hard on the bikes, especially in the heat of the day, forecast to be 102 degrees. I saw #110, #115, #8, #84 and #16 pulled over but all had help. I then saw Doug Wothke come alongside #2, Steve Decosas from Texas and pointed to his rear brake caliper linkage that was dragging on the ground. I could not see or hear what Steve was saying but he was visibly upset. With no brakes and just 10 miles to go, Steve had crossed the nation on his 1915 Harley Davidson with perfect points and was currently in the #6 position on the leader board. To avoid stopping he took the shoulder to pass cars, turned right at intersections then u turned and turned right again. How thrilling it was to see him at the end!!!
We got to the staging area where they were sending the bikes to the finish line in classes. Class one, the smallest engines with single speed went first, followed by Class two and then by class three. The excitement was palpable as we rode downhill to Carlsbad Expressway that ran along the Ocean. The air was cooler but the traffic and pedestrians were a challenge to navigate. Splitting lanes is legal in California making it easier for the guys (and girl) to navigate traffic and keep rolling. I saw #91, Ziggy, pushing his 1916 Indian. He later told me that he lost the pedal on his kicker and this clutch mechanism gave out. Still, he pushed his bike over the finish line completing all but 81 miles of this cross-country trek.
At the Carlsbad Visitor Center the riders and crowd were ecstatic! Champaign was flowing while eager families and friends awaited their loved ones. The look of love and admiration in their eyes was one of my favorite moments of the entire event. The exhaustion was still evident but was mixed with relief. Smiles, hugs, tears of joy created a joyous atmosphere. Scott Jacobs and wife Sharon were there to greet us. Scott had crashed day two which took the two of them out of the event as they dealt with surgery and recovery. History was been made by 16 motorcyclists who came in with 3306 miles and no penalties. All 16 were on Henderson, Harley Davidson and Indian Motorcycles.
The celebration banquet at the Holiday Inn gave everyone an opportunity to clean up and put his or her celebration attire on. For some that meant wearing a cocktail dress while for others it meant shorts and a tropical themed shirt. Awards were presented by Jason Sims, Director of operations, and Paul d’Orleans who Emceed the evening program. Jason started the evening comments by saying: “We made history and we did it as a family”.
A new award was presented this year from Lonnie Islam, Jr. who started the Cannonball but was unable to participate due to health issues. The award was called the “Spirit of the Cannonball” and is awarded to a person who showed dedication, perseverance and a love for riding. The person receiving the award gets a Lifetime Cannonball Entry, a Michael Lichter picture from the Atlantic City Boardwalk Start and a personalized custom Cannonball Banner. The award went to #13, Dean Bordigioni a wine maker from California who rode his Class 1 1914 Harley Davidson all but 1 mile. Tear, clapping and a standing ovation accompanied that decision.
The overall Winner of the Cannonball went to Frank Westfall, #49 from New York on his Class 2, 1912 Henderson. Frank won a $10-15,000. Custom brass Cannonball figurine made by sculpturist, Jeff Decker. Runner up was Byrne Bramwell from Canada on his Class 2, 1913 Henderson. Of the top 5, Only one was a 1914 Harley Davidson and that was ridden by 79 year old Victor Boocock from California. Class 1 first place went to Dean Bordigioni with runner up being Alex Trempanier on his 1912 Indian single speed. Class 3 First place went to #2, Steve DeCosas from New York on his 1915 Harley Davidson with the runner up being 1st time Cannonballer #66, Ben Brown from Pennsylvania on his 1915 Harley Davidson. Jason ended the evening festivities by saying “Many of you are wondering about the future of the Cannonball.” The room got quiet as he waited for everyone’s attention. With one fist in the air he exclaimed, “Cannonball”!