Motorcycle Cannonball blasts off

September 8, 2018

PORTLAND, ME — The fifth iteration of the Motorcycle Cannonball kicked off Saturday with more than 100 riders leaving Portland Maine. All riding vintage motorcycles ranging in age from 90 to 109 years old.

In 2010, the Motorcycle Cannonball Run’s founder Lonnie Isam, Jr. collected a group of 45 like-minded antique motorcycle enthusiasts and set out on a historic ride from the East Coast to the Pacific Ocean. It took two years for the next Motorcycle Cannonball to take shape, and in that time word of the event spread, interest grew, and by the time Isam was ready to set out again, participation almost doubled. The run continued to grow and capture the attention of the nation as these rolling museums rumbled through the main thoroughfares of the towns they visited.

Sadly, Isam passed away from cancer in August 2017 as this year’s run was being planned. Before he passed, Isam handed the mantle to Jason Sims, a long-time business partner, friend, and cannonballer. With Sims now in the drivers seat, this year’s Motorcycle Cannonball hits the road, today with Isam’s memory following right along the way.

The cannonballers will be riding the back roads of the Northern United States on a 3,674-mile, 16-day endurance run passing through New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota, Montana, and Washington before completing their journey in Portland Oregon. The route was planned by Sims, John Classen, course master, and LeeAnn Simms, administrative and travel coordinator, they are joined as part of the support team by Felicia Morgan, press/media relations, and Vicki “Spitfire” Sanfelipo, a registered nurse.

The riders themselves will have no previous knowledge of the route prior to the start of each day’s run. They will have to navigate the route based on written instructions assembled by Sims and Classen, no modern navigation devices are allowed during the trip. The bikes themselves are held to strict standards in order to compete.

From the official list of requirements:

Motorcycle entries must have been manufactured in 1928 or earlier. Motorcycles must be and appear original in nature, period correct modifications and customizations are OK; No modern replica machines are allowed. Engine cases must be original. Only period correct transmissions are allowed.

Although for the most part the bikes must be original pre-1929 models, some modifications are allowed.

Fuel capacity may be increased. Auxiliary fuel tanks may be added provided they meet federal and state requirements. Modern wheels are acceptable but must look period correct as much as possible, riders may use beaded type tires instead of clincher tires. Electrical charging systems including generator/alternator and battery may be added. Modern magnetos are allowed and such.

The Cannonballers are broken up into three classes:

Class One, single cylinder, single speed motorcycles;

Class Two, multi cylinder, single speed motorcycles or single cylinder, multi-speed motorcycles.

Class Three, multi cylinder, multi speed motorcycles.

The scoring for the run is based on miles completed by each Cannonball participant during each day’s run at specific timed check points.

The riders will be rolling into Freedom Park in Sturgis around 4 p.m. Sunday Sept. 16 for a meet and greet with anyone wishing to come out and visit. They will then spend their only day of rest in Sturgis before hitting the road again on Sept 18 to continue on their journey.

Follow along each day of the entire Motorcycle Cannonball Run. The Black Hills Pioneer will publish daily updates & photos in the hard copy edition and at www.bhpioneer.com.

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