A repeat contender who hails from Alabama, Erik Bahl is one of the more enthusiastic riders of the Motorcycle Cannonball. With a constant smile and a kind word for everyone he meets, Bahl made his first attempt at crossing the country with the cavalcade of madcap Cannonballers in 2014. His motorcycle choice for that year was “Black Beauty,” a 1929 BMW that had actually seen military service during World War II. However, despite the Beauty’s magnificent history, fate had a different story twist in mind for the pair and by Stage 6, the beautiful bike was done in. Bahl returned home with a mere 1,139 miles of the possible 3,938. But that was not the end of the story for the determined rider. By the time 2016 rolled around, there was new girl in his life and Erik cheerfully signed back up to try it again.
“Lucille,” a 1915 H-D lovingly named after his grandmother, was a seasoned veteran of the Cannonball and took her place at the starting line in New Jersey with an air of sophisticated confidence. Erik had purchased the Model 11F from 2010 alumnus Rick McMaken. Rick finished the inaugural run with a perfect score and Bahl was sure she could perform just as well for him. But there’s more to the grueling Motorcycle Cannonball endurance run than just engine performance.
No one has ever said the Cannonball was easy and that point was made perfectly clear by day two of the 2016 run. Erik found himself in a bit of a dustup and ended up at the bottom of a ditch with Lucille on top of him, Lucille leaking fluids from every orifice. With the help of fellow riders, Erik managed to get the bike straightened out and finished the day’s miles despite being a tad scuffed up himself. He persevered and by the time he rolled across the finish line in California, he and his lovely gal had covered a remarkable and hard-fought total of 3,306 miles. A perfect score.
For the 2018 run, Lucille’s been given a bit of sprucing up and is ready to tackle another demanding coast-to-coast adventure. Her always-smiling owner has gone through every crevice, cleaned and fine tuned the aging gal and Erik is confident that she has another perfect score in her future. As a machine that has seen the challenges of the very first Cannonball, the Century Race, and now the first northern route run, we’re excited to watch her prove herself out once again. Best of luck, Erik!
To learn more about the riders for the 2018 Motorcycle Cannonball Run, go to the website (motorcyclecannonball.com/riders) and read their personal stories.