Anamosa, Iowa (Sept. 13, 2018) -- Thursday’s Stage 6 of the 2018 Cannonball Run saw about a hundred Cannonball riders motor across Northern Illinois, crossing the Mississippi on the Mark Morris Memorial Bridge into Clinton, Iowa. Many people in the rest of the country picture Iowa as flat cornfields, and that is the case in much of the state, but in the eastern section from Clinton to Anamosa the roads were a scenic series of gorgeous sweepers going around the fertile undulating landscape.
In spite of relatively smooth and long stretches of quite highway, attrition continued to take its toll.One of the heroes of yesterday’s stage was forced out with a mechanical issue, but even in defeat he was able to help another rider continue.
Mike Carson, who suffered a hard fall, along with his son Buck on Wednesday, bravely waved off the riders this morning, slung arm and all. And much to everyone’s amazement he did not rule out a comeback before the end of the run.
Weather was postcard perfect. Cool enough to make engines happy, yet with a vivid sun that kept riders warm.
Be the Motor
Remember in “Caddyshack” where Chevy Chase told his young golf partner to “Be the ball”? Well, current Cannonball Run 2018 leader Chris Tribbey’s advice might just go something like, “Be the motor.”
Chris said his secret is to get a feel for the motor and let it give you what it wants. “Don’t push it beyond what it want to give you,” he says.
Good advice, especially if you’re riding the oldest motorcycle (a 1911 Excelsior K Single) in this year’s run.
A Sub Steps In
The big story of Wednesday’s stage 5 was the bad crash suffered by the father-son combo of Mike and Buck Carson. Mike, the father, ended up in the hospital and Buck’s 1924 Harley-Davidson suffered a broken front fork. There’s no other way to say it, things looked bleak over in the Carson camp.
Miraculously by today things had improved considerably.
Buck’s bike was repaired and back on course and Mike waved off the bikes this morning in spite of having a suffered a broken collarbone and cracked ribs in the crash with his son on Wednesday. Vinnie Grasser stepped in to substitute for Mike, but according to Buck, his dad may not be ready to call it quits just yet.
“He’s talking about maybe coming back in a few days,” Buck said. “We’ll see. He’s a stubborn cuss.”
Vinnie was a trooper for stepping up to take over the ride, even though it might be just temporarily. They picked a great sub. Vinnie has twice ridden the Cannonball in 2014 and 2016.
“These are very, very good friends of mine,” Vinnie said of the Carsons. “I wanted to help them along and was here as just a spectator. Now I have this opportunity. I really didn’t want to get in the run this way, but thankfully the Carsons are fine and Mike has entrusted me with his machine.”
A Hero Twice Over
If you read yesterday’s report on Stage 5, you’ll know that Clint Funderburg performed one of the all-time great roadside repairs on Ryan Allen’s 1916 Indian Powerplus. That made the news that Clint’s Powerplus had major engine problems today that even his ingenuity could not overcome. Clint’s bike ended up on the sweep truck.
To top things off Clint looked down right where his bike stopped and laying there was one of those magnetic funeral car flags.Clint said he knew that was a bad omen.
But even in defeat Clint found a way to help others. He salvaged some parts off his bike to help repair Justin Rinker’s Powerplus. Two things we’ve learned so far in this year’s Cannonball, Clint Funderburg is an absolute gem of a guy and Powerplus riders stick together through thick and thin!
The Tortoise Out for Now
The run of NeraCar rider Ben Pierce reminded us of the story of the Tortoise and the Hare. Ben’s unique feet-forward ride, tops out at maybe 25-30 mph - and that’s will a nice tailwind! Ben would get passed time and again, but then riders who stopped for fuel or broke down, would soon see Ben slowly riding past with a slow, but steady style.
We wondered where he was this morning, only to later find out that Ben crashed the NeraCar late on Wednesday stage. He’s a little battered and bruised, but otherwise OK. Friends report he hopes to resume the run if repairs on the bent NeraCar make it rideable.
A Working Lunch at Workman
Lunch on Thursday was hosted by the good people at Workman Harley-Davidson in Rock Falls, Illinois. And there was another big and enthusiastic crowd on hand to greet riders with cheers and applause, both coming and going.
The story of the dealership is an inspiration. Jane and Vern Workman’s love of motorcycles led them from their basement to a successful business. After Vern did his motorcycle repair and customizing work in their house basement for years, the couple scrimped and saved and finally opened their dealership in 1982. Unfortunately, it was the height of the early ‘80s recession. It was four months before they sold their first bike!
Fortunately the Workmans persisted and their dealership gradually became a great success.
Stories from the Sweep Truck
Jerry Brown was still scratching his head as he was off-loading his 1926 Harley JD from the trailer of one of the Cannonball sweep trucks.
“I took everything apart,” Jerry explained. “The intakes the exhaust, I’ve got spark. I traced it back to a gas station way back over by Wilmington [Illinois]. It’s the only thing it could be [bad gasoline]. I got fire, compression everything. I’m going to find out.”
Ricky Bartel’s 1926 Harley J Model experienced major engine problems. The motor on the 1915 Indian of Shinya Kimura and Yoshimasa Niimi locked up solid.
Mark Loewen, who was leading Class II earlier in the run, had a tough day with two flat tires. “A 50 mile per hour blowout is not the best on clinchers,” said Mark, who is riding a 1912 Excelsior Twin. “I think I have defective tube, they’ve all been on a seam.”
Bret Yeager had a valve spring on his 1914 Harley-Davidson 10b go bad.
The gorgeous 1916 Brough Superior SS80 of Bryan Bossier Sr and Alan Stulberg seized today coming into Oxford Junction, Iowa. Alan admitted that he was pushing it by running up to 70 mph for long stretches on the wide-open Highway 136.
Kevin Naser made some parking lot repairs on his 1916 Indian Powerplus and was back on the road with the help of safety wire holding together his chain guard.
Cris Sommer Simmons endured some issues with shift linkage on her Harley 11J, but roadside repairs were made and she continued to the finish.
Byrne Bramwell’s brand new support van was rear ended at the end of the day after the run on Thursday. Reports are that Byrne and his crew are OK, the van, not so much.
So Close, but Yet So Far
It was an agonizing day for Pat Patterson. A support member in 2016 turned rider, Pat was a just mile from the finish when his 1926 Harley JD quit running with a suspected coil problem.
Pat said he considered pushing, but “I was looking at a hill and I’d been fighting it all day. When it stopped I just looked up and said, ‘Where’s the sweep vehicle?’
“Me and my brother [Marty] are taking turns riding it and today just happened to be my turn. We put a new distributor in and the wires broke today and the the coil sheared right on where all the rivets makes ground. I was tired and I through in the towel.”
Pat hopes to have the bike repaired in time to make the start Friday morning.
A Big Finish
Thursday’s run ended at the iconic National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa, It was a stop the entire Cannonball contingent has been looking forward to. It’s about the only place along the route that has hosts motorcycles on par with the bikes in the actual run. The Museum hosted a wonderful dinner and hundreds of fans were there to meet the riders and ogle over their machines.
Good Cop, Bad Cop
Photographer and team support member Felicia Morgan reported that Cannonballer Rowdy Schenck had a run-in with a police officer out on the highway today. Apparently the officer was not thrilled with a pass Rowdy and his 1915 Harley 11F made on the police car. The cop was not thrilled when support staff came over to see what was going on. A bit of a discussion ensued and the cop eventually let Rowdy and crew continue. In the cop was asked to pose for a photo with Rowdy. He wouldn’t do it, but his partner stepped in and saved the day posing for this photo taken by Felicia..
Friday, September 14 Stage 7 (274 miles)
7:00; 7:15, 7:30 AM CDT: Official Start Times for Classes I, II, III; Marriott
11:30 AM: Lunch, Harley-Davidson of Mason City, Mason City, Iowa
4:15; 4:30; 4:45 PM: Finish Times for Classes III, II, I; Indian Motorcycle Factory and Experience Center, Spirit Lake, Iowa
4:15 PM: Dinner, Indian Motorcycle Factory and Experience Center
6:00 PM: Parc Fermé closes, Indian Motorcycle Factory and Experience Center