Cannonball Characters: #42 Paul Jacobson

By Felicia Morgan

1913 Thor U

Our rider #42, a first-time competitor of the Cannonball, developed a love for motorcycles during his college days and somehow managed to contract an addiction for the kind of bikes that needed constant tending to while riding, which is a good thing since his little Thor surely filled the bill this last September. Paul spent a good deal of time on the side of the road rebuilding valve pockets while crossing America during the 2018 Cannonball. In between that task, he was constantly tinkering, adjusting, fixing and fidgeting with the twin-cylinder, single-speed machine, which started out in his possession as several pieces and boxes of parts. He admits to being inspired by the 2016 Thor Losers Cannonball team and in the process of putting his own machine together, he’d gotten advice, support and tips from other Thor owners, which is a relatively small group since the marque itself is as scarce as hen’s teeth.

In the world of antiquing, it really does take a village and Paul has made friends from around the world as he worked to put his bike together and make his engine sound. He was quite excited to prove out his dedication and diligence in setting the bike towards the West Coast and his enthusiasm and good nature made it fun for sweep crews to find him along the roadside, though sometimes he just waved volunteers on in lieu of spending time explaining that he needed no help—he was just doing the typical tinkering, or rebuilding a valve pocket, again. One time he was found hiding in an alley to try to make the repairs needed in peace since everyone was curious about the old bike every time he stopped. Additionally, there were nightly repairs and maintenance. During the stop in Jamestown, New York, the bike was put on the Dyno machine and the mighty Thor registered a whopping 10 hp, which made Jacobson, an engineer by trade, smile huge since the engine was originally built with only 7 hp. Still, the bike spent a couple of days off the road and by the end of it all, he estimated that he was digging for tools and making repairs on average about every 80 miles. Paul was focused and committed along the route but still found time for family and friends, several of whom were along as support crew.

As a surprise to him, his young daughter was invited to perform early-morning duties in Oregon by waving riders off with the green flag for the last day of the run. His face lit up as he cruised past his very excited little girl and the Thor managed to perform perfectly. By the time it was all over, Paul would declare that what he had learned about the mighty Thor’s limitations came through a communication process where the old bike would let him know what it needed and, in the process, the pair had developed a deep and mutual respect for one another somewhere along the back roads of America.

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