Want to go?
WHAT: Motorcycle Cannonball 2012
WHEN: 5 p.m. Saturday, September 8
WHERE: Comfort Inn Sandusky, 5909 Milan Rd., Sandusky
Vintage motorcycle lovers get your motor running for the Motorcycle Cannonball 2012, which makes a stop at the Comfort Inn in Sandusky this weekend.
A veritable rolling museum of pre-1930 motorcycles racing across the country, the unique event is described as an endurance run with competition based on precision riding and navigational skills on classic bikes. The participants will spend 17 days following a 3950-mile route, that includes scenic drives through national parks and forests, riding along the coast of Lake Erie, through the plains, the Badlands and the Rockies and finishing on 100 miles of the Pacific Coast Highway across the Golden Gate Bridge and into San Francisco.
One of the riders is celebrated artist Scott Jacobs, who signed on as the first officially licensed artist through Harley-Davidson’s Fine Art Program in 1993. The San Diego resident will be riding a fully-restored 1926 Harley-Davidson J. Jacobs. Jacobs appeared with his daughter Alexa on ABC reality show “Secret Millionaire” this past June, attended the Motorcycle Cannonball as a spectator two years ago.
Funcoast talked to Jacobs, who is wearing the No. 93 on the junket, about this crazy adventure.
Funcoast: First of all, where did the Motorcycle Cannonball get its start?
Scott Jacobs (SJ): It was started back in 1915 so they’re carrying on that tradition. Up until this year it was all 1915 bikes or older because they wanted to go back to the original race. That was a tough one because a lot of those old bikes would only go 35 or 40 mph. This year they upped it to 1930 bikes and older so we can go 50 to 55 mph.
Funcoast: Tell us about your bike.
SJ: I have a 1926 J that I purchased last year and had restored by Steve Huntzinger, who is a very respected restorer and actually did the race two years ago on his 1914 Excelsior. He finished the race. The thing is not only physical, but you have to hope that your bike is going to make it too. When you have bikes 100 years old, you have no idea what’s going to happen.
Funcoast: You know there have been a lot of innovations regarding motorcycle riding in the last century. What’s it like riding a 1926 bike?
SJ: It’s totally different. I had never ridden a bike this old before and I trained on it about a month ago. The first time I ever had a bike that had a stick shift on the tank, a tank shift, and a foot clutch. It’s a lot more work. These are a bear. There is no suspension. The only thing that bounces in a bump is the spring that’s actually under the seat.
Funcoast: With that in mind, why exactly are you doing this?
SJ: Two years ago I went as a spectator and took photographs for possible paintings for Harley-Davidson. The entire time I was there watching this race I was thinking, “God, I wish I could do this.”
Funcoast: In my mind, you’re going to be wearing a leather skull cap resembling a football helmet from the 1920s and WWI pilot goggles.
SJ: You know, I’ve been looking for vintage clothing. I had a hard time finding vintage boots. The helmets have to be DOT approved in a lot of the states, so you can’t get by wearing the older style helmets. Plus, I like wearing a helmet. I’ve had a few friends get hurt or killed and a helmet might have changed their outcome. So I always wear a helmet. Even though you’d look good or like you were a period rider, it’s not maybe the smartest thing to wear across the country.
Funcoast: In a weird way, the Motorcycle Cannonball exemplifies the “American Pickers” experience coming full circle. That is, someone finds an antique bike in disrepair and a few years later it’s being driven across the country.
SJ: I met all of those guys. They came and said “Hi” to me in Sturgis last year. But, yeah, exactly. If anybody is into motorcycles at all, these bikes are actually bikes that should be in museums but are on the road racing across the country. So it’s a rolling museum going across the country.
For additional information about the race, the route, the riders, its history and more, visit motorcyclecannonball.com.