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Cannonball Characters: #18 Doug Feinsod

By Felicia Morgan

#18 Doug Feinsod
1913 Thor

Located somewhere deep in the Pacific Coast Range of Northern California, rider number 18 is the owner of Santa Cruz Vintage Cycles and he keeps himself quite busy with the business of buying, selling and swapping old motorcycles. Doug is one of only two riders who have managed to experience the transcontinental adventures of each one of the four Motorcycle Cannonball endurance runs. He’s notorious for striving to keep life interesting by changing things up during the run. Consequently, he usually does things the hard way. He made the prior journeys on an Indian once, and twice on the same Henderson. The first trip on the Henderson involved a blown engine so he gave the bike a chance to redeem itself the following run after he rebuilt it and the old gal made all the miles in 2014. For the 2016 Race of the Century, he decided to conquer a new marque so Doug was astride a 103-year-old machine manufactured by the Aurora Automatic Machinery Co. of Aurora, Illinois. Built in 1913, his Thor was roadworthy when he lit out from California, with the bike tucked safely in the van that would serve as crew vehicle, and arrived at Retrocycle, Rob Nussbaum’s shop in New Jersey, to continue working on the other two machines he put in the run so friends would ride: a 1912 Excelsior and a 1915 Harley. Doug aligned himself with a group of other Thor wranglers who dubbed themselves the Thor Losers and the gaggle of guys careened themselves merrily along the back roads of America while tinkering to keep the bikes in the wind every day. By the time the clan arrived on the sandy shores of Carlsbad, Doug had ridden 3,156 miles.

As for the 2018 Cannonball, Feinsod is signed up to make the fifth iteration, proving out the depth of his serious addiction. There’s no certainty at this point, but the last discussion on which bike he’d enter included a machine that will be even more difficult than the prior year’s struggles, which were considerable. The single cylinder with an atmospheric intake valve Excelsior built in 1909 has no cam or push rod. The vacuum of the piston going down is all that will open the intake. If this is the bike Doug takes to the starting line, his will be an interesting journey to watch. We’re pretty sure his goal of keeping life interesting will be achieved as he pushes the delicate old gal across the northern span of our great nation.#18 Doug Feinsod

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