One century ago, in 1914, 32-year old Erwin George “Cannon Ball” Baker (March 12, 1882 – May 10, 1960) made history riding an Indian motorcycle for a 3.379-mile trek from San Diego to New York in 11 1/2 days.
Don Emde, 63, the legendary former Daytona 200 race winner and member of the Motorcycle Hall Of Fame, believes that he reconstructed the exact route Baker followed and intends to ride it, leaving and arriving at the same time his inspiration did. Emde will depart San Diego this May 3rd and, if all goes well will arrive in New York City on May 14.
Although Emde owns an original 1913 Indian motorcycle, he will ride the Cannon Ball’s trail on a Yamaha Super Ténéré dual sport that can traverse the ride’s first 250 miles on dirt and the remaining 3,000-plus on pavement.
The ride from San Diego to New York was just one of 143 records Baker set riding motorcycles and driving cars in the early 20th century, mostly as promotional events for the manufacturers (including Indian) that sponsored him to break records.
In 1972, Don Emde won the most famous motorcycle race in the U.S., the Daytona 200 riding a Yamaha 350 two stroke. His father, Floyd Emde, had won the same race 24 years before, in 1948. To date, they remain the only father and son to have won the Daytona 200.