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Motorcycle Cannonball

Enthusiasts roll through area

September 23, 2018
Jennifer Astello - Correspondent , Estherville News

SPIRIT LAKE - Hundreds of bikers and motorcycle enthusiasts gathered in Spirit Lake, Iowa on Friday Sept. 14 at Polaris Industries, maker of Indian Motorcycles.

The occasion? The Motorcycle Cannonball endurance run: 107 bikers are riding on a 16-day event from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon. That is 3,750 miles. If that wasn't endurance enough, the run is done on motorcycles that are 100 years old and older.

"They have to be 100 years old or older (the motorcycles)," said Ray Rodi Volunteer Staff for this year's run. "The oldest bike in this race is from 1910, and our last run had a bike from 1904. It's an endurance run; these people leave at a certain time every morning, let's say 7 o'clock, and they ride them every mile. They started in Portland, Maine and they will finish in Portland, Oregon."

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The run happens every two years; a different start and ending point is chosen each run and it takes around two years to plan the event.

These bikers are given a set of directions and a map that they are expected to follow. The competition involves correctly navigating using the given instructions and the winner will be the motorcycle and its rider that covers the most on-route mileage over the 16-day period. All bikes take the same route and have a time schedule. All motorcycles must maintain a speed of 43-50 mph on straight, flat roads.

Like-minded people gather together to make this run every two years. It was started by a man named Lonnie Isam Jr. who thought it would be a great idea to take motorcycles that you normally only see in museums on an endurance run.

"A young man by the name of Lonnie Isam Jr. is the developer of this race, but unfortunately a year and a half ago he passed away from a brain tumor," said Rodi. "Our fearless leader now is Jason Simms; he was real good friends with Lonnie and he is continuing the tradition of The Motorcycle Cannonball."

One biker said they get a lot of looks going down the road.

"I love it, its my first run, I am on a 1911 Excelsior," he said.



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