It has been a week since we all rode into the parking lot in Mukilteo, WA. It was a memorable experience for me. I was truly pleased to come in on Vanessa, not in the support truck as in 2014.
What I learned:
The ride was much more important than the competition but almost everyone at the start wanted to compete for the win. (The Seattle SOD guys were filming a movie and on a very fine mission and not there to win). After day one, it narrowed down to maybe fifteen who were competing. By the end of day three that number was reduced to seven or eight.
SOD on a worthy cause
Seven riders arrived with well prepared scooters, ready to ride the way it takes to win. Those were Bigkart, Flyguy2, Classic Rider, Motovista, Cdwise, Absurd Ruse and me,
Bigkart had a 1986 Honda Helix with a nine gallon auxiliary tank. Bob had a fast scooter, was a fast rider, didn't have to stop and had a nice handicap. I am quite certain that he ended up with the fastest raw time too. Even though he made a few mistakes, I couldn't beat him. He and Duane, his support driver, were very nice guys who saw their scooter win relatively easily. But it took a great effort.
Bob on day one. I was teaching him how to ride a Cannonball.
Flyguy2, came on a brand new Yamaha Smax. It has a five point handicap advantage while being almost as fast as Vanessa (faster climbing hills and at altitude). And Walt rode it beautifully. I was close to him but he did better. I look forward to seeing Walt in Italy later this year. He is going to be a good friend in the future.
Classic Rider was on a vintage Vespa Rally 200. John's lack of speed and comfort made his effort a bit more impressive than the guys on newer, larger, faster, more dependable scooters. Every day he would soldier in to the finish. He scored better than me on many days.
Motovista was on a heavily modified Vespa GT. I thought he would be untouchable, but George had made a few mistakes that cost him speed. And speed helps on parts of the ride, but can't be used everywhere. Logistics hurt him too as the lack of organization at the start had him finishing after dark.
George and his monster machine
Cdwise had a fine scooter in the Aprilia Sport City 250, but couldn't overcome its huge handicap disadvantage. Cheryl rode well, also maybe the fastest raw time, but couldn't compete with the fast, lower handicap scooters.
Absurd Ruse, Gonzo, had a monster scooter that easily would have won if it had completed every day. He won every day he finished, by a big number, but reliability issues in the middle days kept him off the road. He won at least five days. Gonzo is a fine fellow, very friendly while being serious about his scooting. Can't beat that combination.
And me. I came with Vanessa, my 2007 Vespa GT. She had given me problems since I bought her last year, but was so sweet heading into the Cannonball that I knew she was the scooter to ride. She was almost trouble free on the ride, only a spark plug falling apart on day five cost me several minutes. She also had a coolant leak that I dealt with by checking coolant levels every night, topping off a few times. She was fast enough on the flats to deal with the others. Her climbing ability was not very good and riding into the wind took much speed away. I could have ridden a little harder, but I rode as hard as I could comfortably. It was exactly how I rode in 2014, but there a perfect day for me meant a win for the day. This year, while I had a few mistakes riding, notably the missed turn on day one that cost me 20 to 25 minutes, the route planning on day that cost as much as an hour, turning around because of high wind on the Mississippi River bridge on day three (I won that day anyway) and the spark plug problems on day five, I had seven perfect riding days. On those seven I made no wrong turns, had quick stops and rode as fast as I could. I didn't win any of them. Competition was very good at the top.
In spite of that, I was very pleased to end up third. It is where I belonged. I am almost sorry that John (Classic Rider) didn't get it as he had a much harder ride on his vintage.
The route was a good one. I love mountain riding and we had that several days. The best riding day may have been day four in Missouri, from Cape Girardeau to Nevada, MO. The hilly, twisty, smooth roads were so much fun. They kept me so busy that I wasn't able to get in many photos.
Dirt roads were a part of the original route, and a mainstay for Cannonball routes over the years. But none of them included a control point, so, when running in a competition, the top riders will always take the fastest route, so dirt roads were missed by everyone at the top. I don't like most of them anyway, but if we are to ride them, put a control point on them.
Beautiful dirt road photo by Cynthia
The hotels were mostly fine. The Super 8 in Nevada, MO was the worst, but I got a good night's sleep there so no problem.
Every day I left between 5:30 and 7:30 local time. All of the last five or six, I left right around 7:00, usually near the front of the leavers and usually among the first getting to the destination hotel. I got into Valentine, NE at 10:45AM. Just in time for breakfast with Cdwise after a 300 mile ride. The longest day was day two, over 7 hours. The shortest day was 4:30 with many around 5 hours. These distances are easy for me.
I met several new friends on the ride. I was most impressed with Scooterista, Cynthia, for riding her P200, Sloppy Joe, the entire distance. She was competitive for the first five or six days, then made the decision to complete the Cannonball at a more leisurely pace. She was always pleasant with a smile. I look forward to visiting again.
Cynthia and Sloppy Joe (Cynthia's photo)
hdvhw, Leigh, was a nice addition to the run as well. She rode her Vespa GTS 300 in the Maxi class. She followed me to a police stop in North Carolina. They were checking licenses, hoping to steal motorcycles from those who were ill prepared. Luckily we had the necessary permits and were set on out way.
This year I got to talk to Mike Smith more than last year. What a nice guy. His son Christopher rode with him and Chris was very cool too. svhess, Steve, was the same as Mike. Didn't talk much in 2014 but got to see him more this time. I enjoyed that.
Febail, Frank, turned out to be among my favorites too.
Maroy, Mark, did a great job with the organization this year. 4in6iscool helped and it was fun to see both of them again this year. Yanobobano, Liana and her dad Wendell were as cool as last year. What nice friends they have become.
Liana and Wendell
I never had met jdracer, Juan, or Z50, Kevin before. I say this because they live in Gainesville, FL, just an hour from my house. They are such nice guys that I enjoyed riding with on several occasions, and seeing in the afternoons. Kevin is a magician, repairing a broken oil seal on Juan's Kymco after an unfortunate belt break. I would have been sunk.
Juan and Kevin arriving at the finish
Skwirly, Sean, rode a GTS 250. As is the case with these, he had electrical problems on the last half of the ride after sliding it through an intersection on day one. I was following him at 9000 feet when his scooter stopped running.
And of course my good friends Ken and Gary. It was a pleasure to spend two weeks with them.
What I truly learned was that, through scooting, you can make many friendships.
It had to end. The 2016 Scooter Cannonball Run in in the books now. And it was a good one.
I started a little late for me as we had a mix up. Gary left thinking I had loaded my gear in the support car. I called him and he returned. Then off I went on Vanessa.
The official route was through some slow roads, so I opted for the Google Fastest Route between start, checkpoints and finish. So I rode on interstate highways to the first checkpoint, where I ran into Ken changing a spark plug on the side of the road.
I didn't see a gas station there so I decided to ride on and use the spare gas can for a fill up alongside a giant wheat field.
Refueling in a wheat field
Then 50 miles of I-90 until hitting 2 for the run to the finish.
Parts of this road were nice but it was mostly running through traffic into little tourist towns.
Riding along the river
And once into the Seattle area, nothing but traffic to the finishing line at the ferry terminal in Mukilteo.
I was second in, Walt beat me by a few minutes. Ken's wife Vicki was there too.
Walt at the finish
A visitor, Vicki and Walt
Juan and Kevin
Pretty view of the finish
Scooters lining up
Ken and Vicki
Team Squadra Lumaca. Second, third, sixth and tenth.
John, Matt and Mark
John, Matt and Mark
Juan, me in Jami's shirt and Kevin
The Gainesville boys, Juan and Kevin, arrived soon after me. I had passed them on 2 earlier.
Then Ken, Mark and Matt. Before long we had nearly 20, with the remainders coming after we broke up after two hours.
We all had dinner at an Irish Pub across from the hotel, then I did my touristy thing by riding into downtown Seattle to see the place.
Vanessa was spectacular on the run.
Now she stays with my cousin, Drew, until I retrieve her next year.
We had another cold morning, but I decided to leave at 7:00 to beat the crowd. Only John (Classic Rider) got out ahead of me. I must have passed him while he was fueling because I never saw him along the route.
The Seattle boys got out ahead of me too. I passed them early.
An unintentional shot that I liked.
It became very cold after turning onto 12, heading into Idaho. Then we had nearly 100 miles of riding along Clearwater River all the way to Washington.
Along 12 in Idaho
More shots along the river
Vanessa about to get refueled
My nemesis, Walt (Flyguy2) caught me after my first fuel stop and we rode together for many miles until he had to stop for fuel. When he rides behind me, we go quickly and have fun. I signaled for him to pass me and go ahead, but he likes to follow me. I know I was holding him up.
The dreaded Walt coming up from behind. He is a great guy, but I prefer to ride alone.
One of only a few photos while Walt was following. It gets a little intense.
Logging trucks. They move along well, but we must pass.
In Washington, everything turned shades of brown. The fields of wheat were massive.
CP3, crossing the Snake River into Washington.
Brown fields as far as the eye can see.
I arrived at the hotel in Walla Walla first, soon followed by Walt, Cheryl and the rest of the gang.
I had never been to Oregon, so I headed that way for lunch in Milton Freewater with Walt, Bob (bigkart) and Chris (Ctopher). We stopped at a little family place and had mostly burgers. Now I can check it off my states scooted in map.
Bob and Chris on their Helix scooters
After settling into the hotel, I wanted to see downtown Walla Walla and found a charming, small collection of buildings containing restaurants, shops and everything anyone needs from a downtown. I unexpectedly ran into Captain Gary while there. He was dining with relatives.
A German looking building downtown
Gary dining in downtown Walla Walla
There was a group dinner at the restaurant in front of the hotel for everyone and most attended. It is a fine group.