The biennial coast-to-coast run is under way and as I sit to write this missive, the sound of old iron chugging through the hotel parking lot vibrates the thin window panes and echoes through the building. It’s a sound that makes my heart flutter. Amazingly, it has a similar effect on most everyone we’ve come in contact with, citizens old and young as well as modern riders and pedestrians. Families have gathered by the roadside to wish riders well and children wave as the geriatrics wheeze by. The phenomenon of a country united in the respect and reverence of the privilege of seeing these century-plus machines pass through Smalltown, USA, is inspiring to watch, to say nothing of getting to meet people who are thrilled for the chance to see the ancient motorcycles, meet the riders and learn more about the time capsules and the stories from the road.
The drama of daily life on the road is one thing during this run, but the struggle to keep the old bikes running is a whole other level of stress. Finding necessary parts to ride another day is its own kind of ingenuity and watching as riders scour roadsides for debris that might serve as a shim, plug a hole or any other kind quick fix is not uncommon. It’s all about making the miles, sometimes 300 of them, and riders focus on nothing else. Including themselves.
So, rather than focusing on just one rider this month, we thought we’d give a glimpse into what the group is going through right now since they are halfway through the grueling ride. The top two places, at least as of this moment, are held by first-time Cannonballer Chris Tribbey from Wisconsin on his 1911 Excelsior, and Dean Bordigioni, who is a repeat rider. Dean is on a 1914 Harley-Davidson and the age of his bike is the only reason Dean is in second place since both men have perfect scores. That’s the thing about the Motorcycle Cannonball: it really is about old bikes, and the older, the better.