Today was a day off. I slept until 730 and was outside working by 9. It was cool and raining all owning. I put up the tent and cleaned the van organized my supplies and did my laundry. Then worked on the bike. Adjusted the clutche linkage, I had 2 rubber pads and put them on the clutch pedals. Adjusted the rear break , checked the chain, and adjusted the front brake. The front brake made a scraping sound. I took it apart and spun it in my hand and it was smooth and quiet. While working on the brake I happened to look at the right side and the bracket that Terry made in Daytona had moved and the speedo pick up was scraping the wheel. Got lucky on that. Dumped the oil and added 3 quarts. I should be adding 1.5 quarts a day of 50 weight. I opened the battery and added distilled water, adjusted the clutch pedal tension. Then placed decals on the rear box for two of my sponsors, Heidenau tires and Spectro oil.

What a day. The weather report said the day would be cooler but dry. We walked outside and it was raining. It rained most of the day and was 55-60 degr. Ran with our rain gear all day.

At 38 miles out I had no brakes. The rear brake rod broke. A farmer stopped and asked if he could help. I thought about running with only the front brake but knew it was not that good. My front brake is a ” front wheel speed reducing apparatus” and not much else. So we went to his shop and he cleaned the brake rod and welded it. Then we installed and adjusted the rear chain. Bill was a great guy, he took the time to help me. He has a 500 acre farm and grows corn and soy beans. Once repaired he lead me out to the road and I was on my way. I figure about 1 hour behind. The rules are you gotta get in by a certain time or loose points. In order to make your miles and time you have to ride all the posted speed limits. On the main roads that are posted above 50 mph you need to maintain 50. I have been running at 45 mph. Today I opened it up to 50 because I had to get in. I road for 2-3 hours and only saw 2 or 3 other bikes and knew I was behind. I caught Bob on his Nera-Car once and then later passed him again. Finally at the lunch stop I was with a few bikes. At mile 167 the roll said 75 miles to the next gas station. The VL has two tanks. The main tank is 2 gallons. The auxiliary is 1 gallon. We cleaned up the fitting on the aux tank and installed the fuel line in Daytona but have not had any time to test it. I have been stopping once an hour in order to refuel. I carry a 1 gallon tank in my saddlebag. So last night I tested the aux tank by pouring a quart in it and the soldered fitting on the bottom of the tank that the petcock fits into leaked. Not much to do at this time so I gotta run with only my main tank. At mile 165 I filled my main tank, my 1 gallon plastic tank and emptied the water from my Gator aid bottle and filled that also. I made it in just fine but ran into someone who was empty and I had nothing to help him with.

The cool weather was great today. The motor ran fine and was running below 200 deg all day. The local HD dealer hosted and fed us tonight.

At the end of the day we were riding thru the rolling hills of Kansas, beautiful.


MY bike is a Harley Davidson 1936 VLH. HD made the VL series from 1930-1936. They are a flathead 74 cu in. In late 1935 they came out with an 80 cu in. The bike is a 3 speed foot clutch, hand shift. My bike was found by Brian Keating. It was an old privateer race from the Conn area. He offered the bike to Mike and Rat from Harbor Vintage with a load of parts. Mike looked the bike over and it was a mess but was very complete and many hard to find parts on it. Mike had Tony rebuild the motor and trans and replaced the fenders. The 1st day out he was stopped for going to fast on it. At the same time I had a 1936 VL but it was not correct. When Mike retired and agreed to sell me the bike so mine went to Ebay and I bought Mike’s bike. I bought the bike in the fall of 2003. Sad to say but Mike passed away last summer. Brian and I rode to the memorial service in Jericho .

I have ridden the bike around town and on only a few longer rides in the area. It has been dependable and fun. It fits me well. I have never spent the time to go thru the bike and have repaired it as needed. This is certainly not a formula for Cannonball success.

We loaded the bikes in the van and drove to the lunch stop. We emptied the van and laid everything out to dry and then grabbed a healthy lunch at Wendys. My bike started well and Dan and I drove off together. He is riding a Knuckle and there is no way I can keep up with him. After a few miles he pulled over with a bad noise. He found the chainguard had come loose, lucky it was nothing serious and he found it right away.

5 miles later down the road we ran into a rain shower. Dan was in front of me and his tool box popped out of the saddlbags and spilled everything on the road. I began to pull over and then  my bike tried to stall, ran on one cylinder and got some smoke out the valve tubes on cyl 1. I pulled over . Dan showed up and the bike had a chance to cool , we kicked it thryu and nothing was seized. then I started it and we took off. When I got up to speed there was quite a valve tick. I ran for awhile and then stopped, Dan listened and we agreed to run it easy. I ran at 40 mph for the day. I made my miles with no damage. I brought the bike over to Terry’s and he had a fan and lights. I opened the valve tubes and we agreed to let it cool down. Dan, Terry, and Kris Thompson were helping. After dinner Kris showed me how to adjust the valves. They were all over the place. Last week Kris before we got to Daytona and agreed we would adjust the valves before the race begins. Never got to it. Hopefully no damage. The VL has a total loss oil system. On a total loss oil system there is no recirculating oil pump. There is a pump that is tied into the throttle and pumps oil to the top end all day but at night you open a valve and let the oil in the crankcase out. I am releasing about 4 ounces each evening. I will get some photos tonight. Terry and I talked and decided to not adjust the oiler for more oil but hand pump it every half an hour. Oil is cheap and it is better to have more than less.

Everyone is at the same hotel last night. In the rider’s meeting they said we will stop for 17 nights and they have made arrangements with 50 hotels. In many towns we are spread out over a few hotels. The rear lot is full of the support vehicles and everyone was working hard . I have not been sleeping well. Too on edge . Will get some melatonin today and stay away from the iced tea after lunch and see if that helps.  Today we head north to Chattanoga, 225 miles

It was raining last night when we left the show and tell. Worked on the bike under the hotel entry. Rained hard all night, parking lot is flooded. Everyone’s cell phones are ringing w US weather service flash flood warnings . Lonnie has postponed the start from 8:30 for one hour and is considering moving the start north above the rain. Georgia looks dry.

Friday we all met on the beach for a group photo. It was like herding cats. There are 98 bikes . At 10 am the class one bikes left, I am class 3 and left at about 10:30. The 1st day was to lake City Florida, an easy shake down ride of 142 miles. Don followed me and I rode with Frank Westfall for awhile. Michael the photographer rides backwards on a Victory. He spent about 10 minutes with me riding a back road under the shaded spanish moss.

We ran into Jeff Tiernan , 1919 Henderson and the petcock fitting to his tank split. We were dealing with it trying to figure out an auxilary tank and Scott Blaylock had one on his BMW and leant it to Jeff. We rode with him to be sure he was ok and then he broke a push rod. We stopped and he had an extra one. Don stayed with him. I was nervous because I am a Rookie and want to be sure to get in  on time . I got there in time and Jeff was not far behind.

OK, on Wednesday I found Karen and Dan and got my bike. I changed the plugs, Dan cleaned up the left petcock and installed. I tightened the chain, then went to sign in and then pre-race inspection.

After that I pulled the left tank and had the shifter tab on the tank welded. It has never been good and for around the town it has not been worth taking the tank off, but this is a different game. Then we worked on the rear box. The box was set up for the Henderson and I brought it. Dr. Pepper and Don worked on it and it is good. Terry came over and he made a bracket for my speedo hook up. This is very cool. It is a speedo and tell total elapsed time and abient temp and motor temp and time. I was lucky to have Terry make the bracket for me.

Then I took the 30 mile practice run to learn how to use the roll sheet. Each night the next day’s instructions are printed out and you tape them together into a long roll and put them on your roller, then during the day roll them as you go to follow the route . We worked until Thursday afternoon getting the bike ready. Then rider’s meeting and dinner/banquet at night.


Sara brought me to the Burlington airport at 5:30 to catch my plane, Gosh, gonna miss her the next few weeks.

My sister Wynema and her husband Jerry picked me up at the airport and spent the night they brought me over to Daytona and spent the day

Last week I was rushing to get everything done. One main issue was to get the Henderson inspected. I called a friend and asked what does he check on a bike for inspection, headlight, tail light, horn, brake light, brakes, tires, suspension. I asked if my motor needed to be in the frame and he thought for a minute and said, “I guess not”