Pierre, South Dakota (Sept. 15, 2018) -- It was a red-letter day in Stage 8 of the 2018 Cannonball Run. Just a few miles before rolling into Saturday’s night’s stopover in Pierre, South Dakota, riders saw a sign that informed them that they were passing the midway mileage point in the Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon cross-country event.
It was comfortable as Saturday’s ride took the green flag from Spirit Lake, Iowa, home of Indian Motorcycle. The riders made a brief run through the southwestern edge of Minnesota before moving into South Dakota. As the day wore on temps, for a second day in a row reached the 90 degree mark, but it was very late in the ride before it got that warm.
Riders reported wonderfully deserted wide-open roads on the route today. The only delay was when a hundred or so head of cattle escaped their fencing and were trotting back and forth across the course as ranchers tried to wrangling them on ATVs. There was no truth to the rumor that one of those escapees made up the steak sandwiches enjoyed at the dinner tonight at Pierre’s Steamboat Park along the banks of the Missouri River.
A total of eight machines came back on the sweep truck or team support truck and a front tire blowout resulted in a crash by rider Yoshimasa Niimi. He was smiling and putting on a brave face while being checked out by medical personnel at the finish. He went to the hospital for some stitches and a more thorough checkup, but friends said he seems OK.
For the next couple of days in the northern Great Plains towns and gas stops become increasingly sparse. This will require even more careful planning by the teams as the run makes its way west.
A Speedy Harley J Model
Harley-Davidson’s JD earned a solid reputation for speed and reliability. Terry Richardson is proving just how capable those machines were as he flew into Pierre well ahead of most other riders on Saturday.
A checkpoint and photo stop was set up at the South Dakota state capitol building. The checkpoint was set up at least a half-hour before it was estimated that the first riders would roll into Pierre, but unbeknownst to the checkpoint crew Terry had finish the stage nearly an hour prior. That meant he averaged over 50 miles per hour, including gas stops and lunch!
We asked him his secret to making a 1916 Harley J motivate so well.
“Aliens,” he joked.
Cannonball organizer Jason Sims is riding a modern machine at times on the run and he was even surprised when Terry went by him.
“He was going around a curve and he’d been holding his line real good, so I knew I was safe going around him so I right-sided him and I guess it startled him a little bit,” Terry grins describing his encounter on the road with Jason. “He’s a good rider, so I didn’t worry about it.”
Terry feels the JD is a great mount for the Cannonball.
“My guy Chris, who works for me, built the engine,” Terry says. “It’s a really sound motor and it’s starting to get better and better. I may have just jinxed myself, but it’s performed real well.
“It’s basically a stock ‘28 JD, but we’ve got some pretty long legs on it. We’ve got a 42 [tooth] sprocket and it likes to comfortably run at about 58 mile an hour. And just get on it, don’t loiter, just get in, get gas and then go.”
To save time today, Terry combined his gas and food stop by buying a cheeseburger in the gas station. “And a can of Red Bull to wash it down,” he adds.
Terry has another advantage. He’s a former drag racer and current track-day enthusiast.
“I thought I knew how to ride a motorcycle until I got on a road race course and I got educated pretty quick. You learn how to turn.”
The other factor in Terry’s decision to go for a rapid finish was the weather forecast.
“Today it was supposed to be 95 degrees and coming from Kansas I didn’t want to get caught out in the prairie in that kind of heat. I tried to get all my miles in as fast as I could this morning while it was cool, for both me and the bike.”
Harley Single Belt Drive Hanging Tough
Much of the attention so far has been focused on Cannonball leader Chris Tribbey and his 1911 Excelsior K Single. Tribbey and crew have turned in an excellent ride, leading at the end of every stage so far and holding on to that lead to the halfway mark. Many are rooting for Chris since he’s on the oldest machine in the competition, but nipping on Chris’ heels is Team Vino’s Dean Bordigioni on his 1914 Harley-Davidson Single belt drive.
Like Chris, Dean has completed every stage on his 104-year-old single-cylinder machine.
“It’s all good. I’ve done this before and Chris is doing a great job,” Dean said.”It comes down to who gets over the mountains. It’s unlikely that either one of us will, but if we can we’re solid. These bikes just don’t have enough horsepower to make it over the mountains, but we both have solid bikes that should finish the event. I almost made it last time and we’re going over a much lower pass.I think I have significantly more horsepower than he does, but with all the gearing ratios and everything you just don’t know.”
Dean also points out that luck also has something to do with it.
“Dan [Emerson] was running second until yesterday when he had a flat,” Dean explains. “That’s just luck of the draw. If you get a flat, you get a flat. Or you break a couple of spokes. It’s the Cannonball.”
Dan at 6’ 3”, 220 lbs, admits his size will be a disadvantage when they hit the Rockies.
“This bike climbs well for a single,” he said. “We’ve got about 25 horsepower more than stock by regrinding the cam and a bunch of other stuff that my mechanic Steve Huntzinger did. Steve builds the bike and Chrystiano [Miranda] maintains the bike. Our team has two riders [with Dean and Ciro Nisi of Italy] and crew members from four countries. We’ve got a Brazilian, a Swede an Italian and four Americans.”
So the battle goes on and the mountains await.
Tomorrow the riders will move from the Central into the Mountain time zone and the run will visit the most famous landmark in South Dakota, Mount Rushmore.
Sunday, September 16 Stage 9 (294 miles)
7:30; 7:45, 8:00 AM CDT: Official Start Times for Classes I, II, III; ClubHouse Hotel, Pierre, South Dakota
9:30 AM MDT: Sightseeing, Badlands National Park, South Dakota
2:00 PM MDT: Sightseeing, Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
4:00 PM MDT: Ceremonial Finish, Harley-Davidson Way, Sturgis, South Dakota
4:45; 4:50; 4:55 PM MDT: Finish Times for Classes III, II, I; Glencoe CampResort, Sturgis, South Dakota
5:00 PM MDT: Dinner, Glencoe CampResort
6:30 PM: Parc Fermé closes, Glencoe CampResort