Things seem to be settling down and people were looking forward to a day with fewer mountain grades. We started in Chillicothe, OH with a 224 mile course ending in Bloomington, IN. Maximum elevation is 1300 feet, a far cry from the 3000 ft elevation we had a couple days ago. The dew was heavy on the bikes. I was out front in the front of the hotel making myself available for whoever might need me. Hans Cortese from South Africa, #1, and I started chatting about his bike. He told me that the JAP on his engine was the maker’s initials. I asked how many bikes he has, Answer: 12. He went on to explain that he knew he wanted a motorcycle when he was 4 years old. His Grandpa who had served in the 2nd World War rode a Flathead bike and showed him a picture. 37 years ago, when he was 19 years old he bought his first bike. He has always had a love for old bikes though he enjoys his Harley Davidson CVO when he is at home as well. He is well known in the motorcycle world in South Africa and give talks about his adventures. This is his 4th time riding a motorcycle across America. Two years ago, Hans was the winner of the 2014 Motorcycle Cannonball on his 1924 Indian Scout. This year he brought his 19An engineer by trade, Hans lives to ride and rides to live! Nice chat, time to go!
I pulled over for the first breakdown just 2 ½ miles into the course. The participant had a spare magneto but was not sure how to get it since it was in his trailer. I moved on since he had a couple friends with him. By mile marker 20, I had seen 5 people along side the road, all with mechanical issues of some kind. The rolling hills of Western Ohio made for an easy morning and weather was perfect! Occasionally, between the smell of exhaust and oil I would smell the drying cornfields and hay. Life is good.
As we passed though a small town I noticed a police car pulled over with it’s lights on. I slowed to see if everything was alright and saw #43, Dave Volneck from Nebraska on his 1914 Indian. I asked him if he was speeding and he said, “no, I think I made the officer mad when I went outside of the white line.” Officer friendly walked up just they and sternly reminded Dave that he was just trying to keep the riders safe when they were cleaning up an oil spill and that they were stopping traffic for their safety. Dave should not have swung around everyone to keep moving. No ticket, just a verbal warning. I went to help Dave get his bike started and as I got back to my bike the officer yelled “Hey, come here’! Another officer had joined him. He asked what all of this is about and I explained, giving them cards to watch my pictures and blogs. I had to chuckle when his fellow officer said “You got mad didn’t you”! I thanked them for not issuing a ticket and for keeping our riders safe as I went back to my bike.
Hosted lunch today was at Powder Keg Harley Davidson in Mason, OH. The parking lot was full of bikes and people. I barley turned the bike off and someone was yelling my name. Apparently we had ridden together in 2010 from LaCrosse, WI to Green Bay on the LZ Lambeau welcome home for Vietnam Vets. It was fun to see the riders explaining their bikes to people. The crowd was grateful and amazed. Powder Keg put on a “Cincinnati” style lunch with Chili Dogs. I had a chance to visit with one of my Accident Scene Management Instructors and salesman at Powder Keg, Mark “Zig” Zigelmeyer. Could have stayed longer but it was quieting down out there so it was time to go. We still have 150 miles to go. Todays course directions, 15 pages. We are only on page 5.
The afternoon was uneventful until I got to mile marker 197. Tanner Ridden, #4 from New York is our youngest competitor. At only 20 years old this kid really knows bikes and is part of the gang. Tanner was removing his rear tire. This is the 2nd time he had a flat tire but this time he had a spare tube. The road we were on was busy with locals and people were stopping by to see if everything was OK. One guy went to get his home compressor and others wanted to warn us about the roads ahead. One couple even drew a map. “Don’t go on the dirt road” they said. They had seen other struggling to get up the hill. Ultimately we decided it was best to stay on course. Tanner was in a hurry it was already after 4pm and he was supposed to check in at 4:10 pm. We still had 45 minutes to go. I missed a turn and pointed for him to keep going as I got turned around. The roads were narrow, gravel in the roads and no shoulder. My heart was racing and irregular. I was feeling dizzy so I found a place to pull over and rest, take some electrolytes. I had been drinking smart water all day. The support truck came and I waved them over to sit with me. They gave me cold water and a yogurt. After a rest and some friendly teasing we decided to finish the ride in. We ended at Bloomington Harley Davidson where they had vendors and some of their old bikes on display as well. Only 2 bikes came in on the flat bed today. There are currently 24 riders with perfect scores. 4 days down and 12 to go…. For current stats and more information visit www.motorcyclecannonball.com