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Motorcycle Cannonball – Stage 9 – Monday, September 19, 2016

By September 20, 2016General Posts

By Spitfire

After a day of rest, people were ready to get back on the road. During the “rest” day, competitors and crew worked hard on the bikes to get them read for the seven days that remain. For some it was stressful. So much to do in so little time! Engines were rebuilt, chains changes, fluids and bearing replaced. Weather cooperated, mid 80s and dry. We were in 3 hotels , non of them right next to each other. Everywhere I looked people were busy but not in a frantic way. I rode around town making a couple trips to stores to stock up on smart water, more bandages and re-stocked the first aid supplies in the support vehicles. I made a few “house” calls for minor issues. Families had a little time to spend together.

Today, we awoke to thick fog. It was still dark when the first bikes went out at 7:45 am. They typically don’t have much by way of lighting and they are small so the riders do what they can to make themselves visible. The Official starter, Cole Dister, dressed as the grim reaper this morning. It was a little freaky but fun anyway. We are heading from Dodge City to Pueblo, CO today. Elevation will increase from 2400 to 5000 feet but we won’t be in the mountains yet. I visited with Scott Byrd, #25 from Arkansas. He is always so cheerful and happy. On the last Cannonball he rode for his sister who had passed away, telling me that he did this for her because she couldn’t. Brotherly love. This Cannonball he is wearing pink with his long hair and tattoos. His bike is painted with pink accents. I asked if this bike was also named Kimberly and he said, no, this is Gypsy! Her parts have come from all over the USA. I asked if all of his 10 bikes had names and he said no, they reveal themselves to him at some point but some had not done that yet. He then showed me a Tattoo with all of his bikes listed. Cracks me up. Good luck Scott!

I didn’t see the usual litter of broken down bikes today in the first 20 miles. The fog was lifting and the cool dry morning air was welcome. Traffic was not heavy but with a speed limit of 65 it’s a bit scary to see the big trucks passing. It’s obvious they can’t see the little bikes in front of the line of vehicles that stacks up so a couple of times I flipped my strobes on and waved the truck back in behind me. As we continued the traffic got lighter and the grouping of bikes started to spread out. Still, like a bunch of hornets, the bikes would gather at gas stations to the delight of locals. One woman grabbed my arm and exclaimed, “ Did someone call the newspaper”? I smiled and told her what a special event she was witnessing. At the next gas stop I saw a reporter with paper and pen in hand talking with some of the riders. I feel so honored to be able to be a part of this! One rider needed help with a push start, There were some guys gawking at the bikes so I asked them to help him knowing they would be talking about how they helped for the rest of the day.

The afternoon temps were in the mid 90s and there was no getting out of the blistering sun. It made the last 60 miles feel like an eternity. We could see the mountains in the background. I stopped at more road art and contemplated what would make a person create such a thing. It had the same look and feel as the Kansas Road Art with Political statements and other bizarre creations. I wondered what the person looked like who does this. We ended at the Marriott Courtyard where a crowd had gathered cheering the riders in. 71 riders had started the day. The trailer had come in with bikes on it and some had been picked up by their support crews. One of the riders that had broken down told me he was done and the bike’s engine just could not go on. I was sad for him. He had so much invested. I hope he stays to enjoy the rest of the trip and help with other bikes at night. There is always something to do! Tomorrow we get into the mountains. Should be interesting!