After exactly 1400 miles (and a little bit more for those who made navigation mistakes), all riders and pre-1916 motorcycles take a well deserved rest day in Hot Springs, Arkansas. For motorcycles, I should say maintenance and repair day for machines not supposed to take this kind of abuse. For riders, well you guess that it is physically and mentally extremely challenging. Have you ridden so long on a rigid frame, spending almost all your nights fixing bugs, machining parts or helping others do it? So, at almost half the Run, what lessons can be drawn about this event that will probably go down in the books as one of the greatest motorcycle events, not only for the required endurance, but also because it exemplifies what motorcycling is all about: freedom, camaraderie, tenacity and courage.
First, some of the favorite riders had troubles right in the beginning, proof that even well prepared machines by the best restorers can reserve surprises and that the winner in each class can’t be known for sure until he arrives in Santa Monica. Good, it’s more excitement for all riders and for us observers. Second, organizers did a terrific job at mapping each stage along the safest and most scenic roads of the State crossed by the participants, at protecting/supervising/assisting riders during each ride, at providing at stage arrival a place where riders can both work on their machines and enjoy each other during group dinners. Third, the organizers demonstrated, if necessary, that a biker journey is never about money…but about accomplishment.
Unexpected on my side, the largest number of direct emails I receive from you my readers since September 10th – date of the Cannonball departure – is about requesting more updates. Maybe next year (we all now expect there will be a next year) I should do a live video broadcast from the road. Decision after riders reach the west coast. (Matt Olsen told me yesterday evening that his girl is on her way to his home in Aberdeen, SD to pamper him…)
Story in the story. Photographer Michael Lichter is shooting all the 3300 miles of the Run, seated backward on the back of a Panhead on a special seat fabricated by Carl Olsen, actually attempting a Guinness Book Of World Records. (photo Erwin G. “Cannon Ball” Baker. Paul Thompson/FPG/Stringer/Getty Images)
Updated ranking as of today September 17, 2010.