Two words that aptly describe the Cannonball are epic and unforgettable.  It’s two days after the event and I’m still experiencing withdrawal symptoms. It doesn’t seem right to not get up at dawn, suit up, and head out on the scooter.  On Monday it was strange and sad to see the scooters being loaded up to head back to their homes. Not at all like the previous parking lot action.

Also the news on Bill Dog is that he came down with a severe staph infection and is doing much better after a brief stay in the hospital.  The brown recluse spider has been found innocent of charges.

Overall I was happy with how the scooter performed with the exception of the seize on day two.  I’m not sure if the soft seize on day three was mechanical, or just a wind gust faking me out.  The engine response over the altitude changes was fine without much tinkering to the carburetter jetting (basically only once). It’s one of the few “kitted” classic scooters to ever finish the entire ride.

In no particular order I’ll offer some observations:

It’s easier to blog on a computer than an iPhone.

I packed too much clothing, but omitted some tools I should have taken.  I only took wrench sizes for repairs I thought I would need, and of course the size I actually needed for the minor clutch issue was not one of them.  I also left my tire pressure gauge at home. It was a little embarrassing to borrow those.

The Cannonball was more mentally challenging than I anticipated, despite the warnings beforehand from experienced participants.

It’s hard to find veggies on the road at meal time.

The energy level of the riders was amazing, as was the extent of the nightly maintenance performed in the motel parking lots.

Non-chain motels might be a little funky, but were OK and the price was right. Most hotels had the toilet paper coming off the back side of the roll instead of the front (where it should).

Harley riders are the friendliest on the road, followed by cruiser riders, adventure tourer riders, and finally the sport bike riders.

Scooterists of all ages are different but genuinely nice people.

Turkeys are aptly named.

I’m surprised at the efforts non participant took to see the event in person, either at the start, finish, or along the route, even to the extent of providing refreshments.  The welcome and BBQ in Abilene was very welcomed at the end of a hot day.

The old scooter and its rider did not do well in hot, gusty headwinds.

Old grips and new riding gloves make a slippery combination when it comes to holding the throttle in position.

I didn’t post much in the way of on the road photos because I was too busy riding and trying not to loose time.  There was a lot of interesting stuff out there though.

Full throttle riding leads to poor gas mileage (duh).

There are a lot of bugs out there (fewer now), but not as many as expected in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

A big thanks needs to go out to Rally Master Patrick Owens and those that helped him.  The planning, preparation, and attention to detail made the event seem to run effortlessly.  That is not easy to do.  As a rookie rider it was easy to understand what was going on.  Dave Bednarski and Jesse Devine for their web sites respectively also deserve thanks.  Those sites provided the ability for non-participants to become involved with and better enjoy and experience the Cannonball.  Thanks to all of the other riders and support crew  for making an enjoyable event (and providing the aforementioned tools) and to TheDandee and Redrocket for transporting my luggage and oil.

I’d also like the thank my wife and friends for their support, even when they said I was crazy to do this.  Jimmy Buffett’s lyrics “If we weren’t all crazy we would go insane” certainly apply.  I have no regrets for having ridden.

Day 8 (a day late)

Job done! All of my pre-start goals were met. I made it all the way across the country without the need of a trailer and also had a respectable finish at both 7th place overall and with the fastest uncorrected 2stroke time.

Day 8 was nice because some of the Vesparados from Santa Barbara me at the first fuel stop in Twentynine Palms and road back onto the course with me. Randy even got to see me get off course when Ms. Garmin wanted to send me into a gated community. Since we were past the last check point on the course I asked for direct to the finish. Sounds simple, but it routed us through El Cajon then 10 miles down El Cajon Blvd. which has a seemingly infinite number of red lights. We finally arrived 30 min. after the original estimate, gah.

Other than the final navigation issue the day went well. I indeed needed my extra fuel even after making an extra fuel stop for .454 gal. at the Cali. ag check station at Vidal Junction. All told that leg used 2.77 gal. and my tank only holds about 2.2.

Motorsport Scooters hosted a nice finish line party attended by the Cannonball riders and local riders as well. It is amazing the interest shown about a bunch of crazies as we rode scooters across the country with people coming out to see us at the start, along the route (often with refreshments), and at the finish. Modernvespa.com hosted an extensive thread for worldwide fans to follow the action.

There were a few incidents along the way, some of which were/are scary. Godzilla Bobber had a serious crash but managed to rejoin the ride to the end (sans bike) and one of our international riders BillDog has continuing issues with his left hand due to a brown recluse spider bite. In fact he left the finish party early to go to the hospital, wound up spending the night, and will most likely require surgery. Several of the scooters are now sporting new scrapes on their sides and other cosmetic blemishes. As mentioned before there are a lot of accumulated mechanical issues as well but it was strange to see no work in progress in the parking lot. Mine will get a nice session at the “spa” after it gets home. All of the women that were able to start finished, with perhaps the most impressive being Ashrat who rode her classic P200 to Savannah from Pueblo Co. before the start THEN rode the entire Cannonball.

That’s about it for now, but once I get home (trucking not riding) and get a chance to catch my breath there might be an epilogue post. Thanks for reading.

Day 7

Day 7 is in the book which means 1 more day to go. This one had a nice range of temperatures, going from 36 in Heber Az. this morning to 97 in Parker this afternoon. The scooter runs much better in cool weather so tomorrow’s dessert crossing will be challenging.

We saw a lot of Harley riders today coming back from one of their runs. It is nice that they give a friendly wave as we pass on the road, as well as friendly conversation at the fuel stops.

I managed to avoid some of the speed traps that were set out on the nice twisty roads but Lost Boater was not as lucky in Jerome (the 20 mph speed limit did seem a bit slow but…).

Speaking of Jerome, a lot of folks had problems with their Garmins and wound up “touring” the town and finding some rather adventurous locations. I had no problems there but think that Prescott is the Arizona equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle. My Garmin wanted me to turn right instead of left at at poorly signed intersection. Several stop lights later I realized it was taking me on a longer more roundabout route so I backtracked to get back on course only to get caught up in a lengthy delay/detour for some bike event. I estimate I lost 20 min. or so minimum. Not only that but my electrical system went wonky. The horn came on full time an the fuse blew on the DC system. I suspect shorts in the wiring as it comes up into the headset. The horn has been silenced which is no big deal since it can’t really be heard by other drivers and I can still get DC power for the Garmin. I also put on a fresh rear tire for the last leg into San Diego.

The usual maintenance progress in the hotel parking lot with a lot a fresh tires being mounted as well as addressing other mechanical woes. Sadly some more riders have dropped out. I’m hoping to keep the Rally running for another 325 miles but even though it’s running well I can tell it’s starting to feel just a bit tired. 1 more day!

Sadly one of the drop outs today-#68 Sir Paul aka GBanks66, the only small frame entered. Notice the adornment he found along the way.

Day 6

The majority of the field has finished day 6. The general consensus is cold and windy. The faster bikes were complaining that their top speed was about 20 mph slower than normal. Those of us riding the smaller scooters had difficulty reaching the speed limit going full throttle down hill. I’m pleased with my elapsed time of 7:20 considering the conditions, and am glad I was carrying my rain gear which I put on at a fuel stop. Speaking of fuel, I added a couple of extra stops in addition to the planned stops so I didn’t need to use my extra gas can. Once I fill up for the evening I can calculate the mpg. 40 will be an optimistic forecast since most of the day was spent at full throttle.

I should gain some time on the classic P200 that is a few places ahead of me although the two primary goals are to #1 finish and #2 place in the top 10 or so.


“timing and scoring)

On the good idea department someone has arranged for massages to work on those post ride kinks. She is doing 15 min. Sessions so depending on how long the waiting list is just might need to partake.


While the leg tomorrow is 9 miles shorter Google estimates the time to complete it at 1 hour and 9 minutes longer. Oh it’s supposed to be 39 in the morning to start and 97 by the time we finish in Parker with 5 major climbs thrown in. Classic scooters with carbs will need to consider changing keys at some point since we start at 6300′, climb to nearly 8000′ and finish around 500′. Decisions, decisions, but nobody said it was going to be easy.

Day 5

Actually the title for today should be BRAIN FART! It’s known that by this point in the rally mental issues can arise. In my case last night I had my wallet on the desk and reminded myself not to forget it. So, being open to advice, I think I put the wallet in my pants pocket (or did so this morning). Unfortunately the wallet wound up in a different pocket than usual unbeknownst to me. So there I am arriving at the first check point which is a planned fuel stop. For some reason I check for the wallet an it’s not in my (normal) pocket. PANIC! I pull over and check the scooter glove box, food bag and road gear bag. No wallet. So I call the motel and ask if any scooter people are still there which there were. One of them went to check the room. Meanwhile I call my transportation support and ask him to check if it’s in my luggage. The answer from both is the same-no wallet. Now real panic and despair set in and when I put my hands toward the back of my hip I discover the wallet in the back pocket. Relief on the one hand but a reminder to be more attentive going forward. Hats off to all involved including the local farmer that pulled over to see if everything was OK.

Other than that the ride went well except for another kamakazi turkey attack, this time from the right side of the road. She was close enough that I could see the color of her eyes. Even though it was warm the winds were from the right today so we were’t blasted by the bow waves of passing trucks.

The Cannonball continues to take its toll on riders and their equipment (for a rider example see brain fart above). Once again there is a lot of mechanicing going on in the parking lot, as well as some withdrawals due to mechanicals



(riding to the finish with broken cranks)

Some riders took the opportunity to visit the UFO Museum down the street. I passed since I did that last year but some must have enjoyed it.


Day 4

Whew, day 4 is officially in the books. That means we are 1/2 way through with 4 more to go, but we are less than 1/2 way based on mileage. Today was the longest so far at 346 so we have gone a total of 1278 with 1370 remaining. Tomorrow is “only” 326 miles.

With today’s weather conditions I feel sorry for the riders still out on the course. It is a balmy 102 at the moment with a stiff wind that has some headwind component to it. The wind was especially fierce SE of Waco, which I’m convinced is Texan for “blows the trees away”. By there we were finally done with the logging trucks but there was no shortage of big rigs creating huge bow waves that hit you when they passed going the opposite direction. We also encountered more bugs than on previous days.



An errant bug even managed to get on my route sheet.

Some of the local scooter riders have coordinated a BBQ for us tonight. That should be tasty as I hear there is good BBQ in Texas. They also had cold water an popcorn for us when we got to the hotel. I sure hope there will be some left for those slower riders, both refreshments and BBQ. It was nice to be able to pull into the shade, check in, and relax.


The scoot ran better with the jet change even though we gained about 1500′. A couple of the other two stroke riders changed their jets during the ride. I think I’ll leave well enough alone until it starts running poorly. I still downshifted to third going uphill into the wind when the engine temperature started creeping up. I may have made up some time on #55 in front of me since she was slowed by a soft seize during the day. There was at least one minor spill and the usual assortment of mechanical woes spread throughout the field. It’s supposed to be hot again tomorrow and hope springs eternal that it won’t be as windy. West Texas? Yeah, right.

Day 3

Well, this was a day for the birds. About 30 min. into the ride a wild turkey decided to cross the road in front of me from the left. There was one of the seemingly infinite number of logging trucks approaching from the opposite direction. So the turkey decides it can’t make across in front of me on the ground and starts to fly. It did a nice version of a vertical takeoff and thankfully banked hard to its right, narrowly missing the scoot (I could have put my arm out and touch it). I don’t know if it had the same luck with the truck.

One of the support crew stopped at a farm stand in Louisiana an picked up some pickled quail eggs. One word:tasty.


So much for bird news. The Cannonball continues to take its mechanical toll on the scooters and riders. Sadly Godzilla Bobber crashed out yesterday. I don’t have any further details other than he is injured bu OK. The mechanical issues are impacting both the classic and modern scooters. Mine was running OK but each hill climb caused an alairming increase in the cylinder head temperature, and the cht was higher than it was before the seize yesterday. So, I put in a larger main jet in the carb to hopefully cool it down a bit. The cooler spark plug that I put in yesterday didn’t do the trick. Tomorrow should be tough, I have heard it will be over 100 in Abilene, ugh.


Not all of the riders were able to get rooms at the hotel so the parking lot seems strangely quiet.

Oh, most everyone agrees we don’t need to see any more logging trucks for quite some time.

Day 2

Well, day 2 was somewhat eventful. We lost one of the 2stoke bikes due to a seized engine and I had a seize myself climbing a bridge going into the wind. It locked up the rear wheel but a quick pull on the clutch lever took care of that. Fortunately I was able to get the engine unseized and keep going. I’m also having clutch engagement an disengagement issues but a call to ScootB suggested checking a brass plunger. A quick trip to the parking lot E.R. Produced a slightly scuffed plunger, which has been cleaned, oiled, and reinstalled. The clutch lever feels normal again so that might have solved the issue (I hope). I’m still concerned by the engine problem so will see tomorrow how things go. The E.R. has been busy today, and not just with the older scoots.

As far as the ride goes, Alabama Rte. 10 sure has a lot of logging truck traffic, but the scenery is pretty (except for that bridge). I’ve also come up with a new game to pass the time: What was it?. At least a couple were slow to respond buzzards. It was also COLD and windy. No score information yet but I messed up a couple of times so may have dropped slightly, plus the bigger scoots probably took advantage of fewer towns and cruised beyond the speed limit. I don’t as I do not care to be a guest of The Man at his local establishment.


I was also able to meet up with a high school classmate that lives up the road in Jackson.

Day 2 Prolog

Well while trying to get to sleep I “remembered” that my clutch lever was starting to feel a little off, much like they seem to do prior to cable failure. So I’ll be getting a slightly later start since I’d rather replace it in the parking lot vs. on the road where I would loose time/points.

I also forgot to mention I’m trying a suggestion to use cycling shorts. The jury is still out on that technique but they do slow down the pit stops slightly.