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2012 Motorcycle Cannonball Run

October 2, 2012

I had the good fortune of being in downtown Fort Bragg amongst some 40-plus pre-1930s motorcycles as they were nearing the end of the East coast to West coast 2012 Motorcycle Cannonball Endurance Run. Although 69 riders started out from New York state on September 7, several riders had dropped out or been disqualified by the time the bikes reached Fort Bragg. The event doesn’t happen every year—only when there is enough interest and enough bikes—so this was a special treat, indeed.

Cris Sommer Simmons, who made the Cannonball ride in 2010, and recently published her experience in The American Motorcycle Girl’s Cannonball Diary, was riding along as a support staffer this year and was glad to welcome the motorcyclists to her hometown of Fort Bragg.

There were bikes in pristine condition, and bikes leaking gear oil. Some were fitted out with leather saddlebags, while others had boxes bungee-corded on. One motorcycle had the endearing sign “California or Bust” bungeed onto its handlebar.

The old machines were incredibly sweet to see up close, and I applaud their riders for enduring those machines for 16 days and 3,900 miles.

Here are a few of my photos. Perhaps you can guess that I dearly love the typography on these early bikes. Enjoy!

(A special thanks to Paul Ousey for the Team 83 t-shirt.)

7 Comments leave one →
  1. October 2, 2012 10:51 am

    Wow! I’m so glad you were able to see the Cannonball. I first read about it two years ago and was greatly intrigued by the punishment,and fun, these people get up to. To hear of some of the issues that they endure is incredible. Great photography. I also love the typography. But I really thought Number 30 was too new, clean, and shiny. Until I saw the riders jeans…and all of the greasy handprints on them. Yep. He belongs. ;). Thank You!

    • October 2, 2012 2:23 pm

      Speaking of punishment, some of the riders must indeed have iron butts, to sit those hard leather seats for 300 miles per day. Yikes! Some had a sheepskin cover, some were a bit padded, most were just bone stock, original seats.

      And think about the power issue, or lack thereof! Paul Ousey told me he rode his 1915 HD—with a total of 5hp—on the 2010 ride, and he literally had to push the bike up hills. These guys (and gal, Cris, who participated in 2010) deserve a huge amount of respect and applause for taking on such a grand adventure. This is a one-of-a-kind event, for sure.

  2. October 2, 2012 3:07 pm

    Wow, great photos.

    Kudos to every rider for slogging it over that many miles on those cool old bikes. I don’t think I have the fortitude or numb bum to do it.

  3. October 2, 2012 3:33 pm


    It’s amazing those machines can travel so far. One day I want to explore your area. I want to see the Lost Coast area someday soon. Luckily machines are so much more reliable now. Before you had to be your own mechanic and carry spares too.

    Riding the Wet Coast
    My Flickr // My YouTube

  4. Dar/PrincessScootepie permalink
    October 4, 2012 6:13 am

    My hat is off to them, I am not sure I could do it. My tush needs a soft seat with good shock absorption. Might be fun to try though. Great pictures!

  5. October 4, 2012 4:08 pm

    Hahaha, I love it that the ladies are so up front about needing a cushy seat. I am totally with you all on that point!

  6. October 10, 2012 6:37 am

    So cool you got to be there! I saw one of the bikes just back down here in LA. Be sure to check out my blog Liz – I actually posted.

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