One hundred antique motorcycles are spending the night in Great Falls tonight and their owners are busy tuning things up for tomorrow’s ride.
The parking lot of Great Falls’ Heritage Inn looks like a cross between a museum and a mechanic’s garage. Bikes and their owners were working on parts, some were dismantling engines, all in 48 degree temps and a drizzle of rain.
The Cannonball Motorcycle Ride is an endurance ride that could be called a coast to coast ride, an ocean to ocean ride or a Portland to Portland ride (Maine to Oregon). With average speeds between 45 – 50 mph it will take two weeks to cross the continent and cover 3,400 miles.
Endurance? Heck yeah!
I chuckled when I saw one bike that appeared to be taped together. Not so – the day’s route was written on tape and the tape was stuck on the bike. That would be easier than reading a map on a motorcycle though!
Most of the miles will be on two lane roads with less than 10% of the miles traveled on interstate highways. Wow, the landscapes these bikers must see!
Support staff accompanies the riders adding about 50 more people to the overnight lodging at the Heritage Inn. One guy I spoke with was in charge of merchandise sales at each stop. I apologized for the weather and he said they can deal with drizzle and cool temps but snow-covered roads are a problem.
Tomorrow when they leave Great Falls they travel up US Hwy 89 to Glacier. They’ll ride the Going to the Sun Road, weather permitting, and overnight in Kalispell.
Compliments were given to the community, the hotel and especially Brian at Big Sky Harley in Great Falls.
They said he was a wonderful dinner host at his dealership, the best they had experienced on this trip.
The Cannonball Motorcycle Ride was an idea, a dream on paper, hatched in 2009 by Lonnie Isam Jr. The first ride was in 2010. Lonnie fought a medical battle and lost but a new owner took over the ride and continues his dream to get these antique bikes out of museums and garages and ride them.
I walked through the parking lot and visited with bike riders turned mechanics, buddies helping fellow riders and support staff. The weather may not have been the greatest but these riders were doing what they loved and this experience would create memories that would last a lifetime.
And that’s what travel is all about!