Think about some recent long distance rides you might have taken recently. Did you ride 500 miles, 700 miles or maybe even a 1,000 mile Iron Butt adventure? Today's heavyweight touring and cruiser bikes are engineered for the grueling demands of grinding out miles on modern interstate expressways. Comfortable handlebar placement coupled with floorboards and thick padded saddles can make long distance rides pleasurable. Add to that a modern GPS, stereo system, CB radio and a host of other accessories designed for motorcycles and you have the ultimate in long distance two wheel travel.
But what if you weren't just taking a day trip but a 17 day odyssey from Florida to Washington State, on two lane back roads? Instead of a modern, fuel injected hybrid, what if you were riding a vintage motorcycle with kick-start and a magneto? Welcome to the Motorcycle Cannonball for 2014, September 5-21.
The Motorcycle Cannonball is a competition tour which limits riders to certain motorcycle vintage years. For 2014, all model bikes must be pre-1937 manufacture date. Hundreds of riders from all over the world start out on this epic ride, but not everyone finishes. It's a demanding test of endurance for both rider and motorcycle. You can find the specific rules for the ride here.
Although a tough competition by any standards, this ride isn't just for the tough guys out there. Women are competing in this ride also, including Cris Sommers Simmons, who competed in 2010 and this year is joined by her husband Pat Simmons of Doobie Brothers fame.
Cris Sommer Simmons and her 1934 Harley-Davidson VD
Also competing is Sharon Jacobs, along with her husband, artist Scott Jacobs. There's even a woman turning 70 in October, Dottie Mattern, who is taking up this year's challenge. She's used to hard fights, having survived cancer and looks to defeat this year's Cannonball on her 1936 Indian Scout.
During the day the riders follow route directions on a roll device mounted to their handlebars, and night time finds them enjoying dinners and receptions at host sites and museums. Of course, their support crews spend many late nights adjusting, tweaking and lubricating the bikes for the next day's journey. The 2014 route is exceptional and riders will enjoy breath taking views from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Arches National Park in the Moab region of Utah and everything in between. The end location is Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington at the LeMay Museum. Complete route details and reception stops can be found here.
Best of luck to all the competitors of this year's Motorcycle Cannonball.