Kelly first joined the ever-growing Cannonball family of riders back in 2012. He rode with a sidecar attached to his Harley that year and a mannequin dressed up as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, in honor of his home state of Kansas, was his traveling companion. For 2014, he and his 1927 Henderson Deluxe biffed and ended up in a ditch out in the middle of nowhere. Kelly was pretty scuffed up but with a little help from his friends, bent everything back out on the bike, shored up his banged-up body and continued on to ride the rest of the day’s miles. By September of 2016, Kelly was back at the starting line in the saddle of yet a different marque. For the Century Race, Modlin showed up in Atlantic City on a 1914 Excelsior and the ride would turn out to be an arduous struggle since it included lots of breakdowns. But none of that got Kelly down since he managed to turn the whole experience into an adventure that would have made the guys from American Pickers quite envious.
After a particularly arduous day through Pennsylvania that had included four breakdowns, he made a new friend at a local watering hole and the conversation naturally turned to old bikes. The guy started talking about some of the cool old stuff he had at his place and invited Kelly over to take a look. As owner of the Twisted Oz Motorcycle Museum in Augusta, Kansas, which had just held its grand opening a few months before the Cannonball Run, Kelly kept an eye out for new acquisitions to add to the growing museum. Next thing he knew, Kelly had struck a deal and was making arrangements to pick up a war-era Indian engine that sat securely in its original packing crate from the home of his new friend. Suddenly the frustration of his own failed engine didn’t seem to bother him nearly as much. By the fourth day Kelly was back on the road and made all 224 miles and as he reached Carlsbad, the Excelsior had managed to cover 2,250 total miles. As for 2018, who knows what bike he might show up on for the start in Portland, Maine, but one thing’s for certain: Kelly Modlin will undoubtedly have a uniquely grand adventure as he traverses these great United States for a fourth time.
To see the Indian engine or any of the other almost 100 unique motorcycles on exhibit at the Twisted Oz, stop by 601 W. 7th Street, Augusta, Kansas 67010, or check them out at twistedoz.com.