Under blue skies, Victorians, Texans and others from across the United States gathered in the Victoria Mall parking lot on Friday to welcome Motorcycle Cannonball riders and their nearly century-old motorcycles to town.
Seeing the cross-country and vintage motorcycle endurance race in Victoria was a unique experience for the residents, as the race never covers the same route twice.
Although the race has historically taken place from the east coast to the west coast in recent years, three years ago Steve Klein suggested making a route from Canada to Mexico via Victoria. Klein, who is well known throughout Victoria for his construction company, Steve Klein Custom Builder, is known elsewhere for his rare vintage motorcycle business, Sierra Madre.
âI have been passionate about vintage motorcycles for over 30 years and am a Victorian. And we have to fill the hotels and restaurants and bring thousands of people into our community, âKlein said of his motivation to move the race to Victoria. People from Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico and others came to Victoria for this event, he said.
The race is named after Erwin âCannonballâ Baker, an early 20th century âdaredevilâ who raced across the country on a motorcycle in an era when paved roads were scarce and gas stations few. Today’s competitors all ride bikes built in or before 1929. They are not allowed to use GPS, instead, they follow the route instructions given to them each morning which they have to follow within a given time frame.
2021 Cannonball Motorcycle Reviews
|1||Dave currier||1911 Harley-Davidson 7A|
|2||Jeff Tiernan||1912 Henderson A|
|3||Frank Westfall||1913 Henderson B|
|4||Andrea Labarbara||1913 Henderson B|
|5||Victor Boocock||1914 Harley-Davidson 10E|
|6||Keegan Wrieth||1914 Excelsior 7-SC|
|7||Loring Hill||1916 Henderson|
|8||Bert Miskell||1915 Harley-Davidson 11F|
|9||Stephen “Doc” Hopkins||1916 Harley-Davidson J|
|ten||Dave minerva||1916 Harley-Davidson F|
â(These motorcycles) are the kind of thing you only see in museums, except they race and make them race across America,â Klein said.
The riders started two weeks ago in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan. Each day they traveled 100 to almost 300 miles. Each night, their crews and even some riders will spend hours maintaining, repairing and even occasionally rebuilding the bikes, so they are ready to ride the next day.
Steve “Doc” Hopkins, a 70-year-old from Bonduel, Wisc., Who is competing in his third cannonball this year, rides during the day and works with a small crew to maintain three different motorcycles each night.
Hopkins rode the same 1916 Harley-Davidson Model J with a 1913 wicker sidecar in the Three Cannonballs, a bike he personally built. Every year he gets a perfect score, the only driver to date to get a perfect score with a sidecar. With two more days in this year’s competition, he’s on track to start again.
âThis bike was put together like Johnny Cash, piece by piece,â Hopkins said. The bike is full of personal and original details – a box spirit
a mirror and a make-up room for his sidecar companions, a device for cooking hot dogs with the heat of the engine.
âWe put them down, ride for about ten minutes, then take it out, put it in a bun and hand it to another runner,â he said.
Hopkins also built a bike for his daughter, Kersten Heling, and son-in-law, Shannon Heling, who are accompanying him this year.
Andrea Labarbara is not new to Motorcycle Cannonball either. She competed for the first time in 2018 and came third. Labarbara is currently fourth in this year’s competition and on Thursday she was the only woman in the top ten.
âI don’t think it’s any different as a man or a woman,â she said. âI wasn’t brought up like that. I was a tomboy. I played in little league with the boys. I had a motorbike when I was 8 years old. I feel like if you want to do something, do it. Don’t let being a woman or a man stop you.
So far, her bike hasn’t had any major issues, she said, and she’s hoping she ends up in the position she is currently in.
âMost of the problems people are going to have with their bikes have already developed,â she said. “Everyone in the top 20 has a decent racing bike, not to say something can’t happen just any day.”
The runners have two more days in the endurance race this year. Tomorrow they will spend the night at McAllen Texas before reaching the grand final on South Padre Island on Sunday.
Cat writes about the city and county government of Victoria. Questions, advice or ideas? Let me know [email protected] or (361) 580-6511