A year and a half ago, I decided that I would one day, ride in a Scooter Cannonball Run.
In 2010, I eagerly watched the run unfold online. I was hooked. Every free moment I had during my work day, I would dash over to the computer to check the GPS locations of the riders that were using a tracking device. During the evening, I would read the blogs and visit an online forum where riders and friends of riders would post details of the day. I was seriously hooked and I began a relationship of sorts with many of the riders; agonizing over miseries encountered on the trip and giving them virtual high-fives when they experienced wonderful things. I bit my nails as I read the daily blogs: someone’s support vehicle was stolen, a passport went missing, technical failures, and a variety of obstacles. I felt horrible when I read about breakdowns and sent healing energy and thoughts to a few riders as they suffered injury along the way. After viewing my first Cannonball experience online, I knew that this was something I wanted to do.
In October of 2011, the very day registrations could be accepted, I placed my registration in the mail. Let the planning begin! And a lot of planning, there is! I’ve no problem hopping on my scooter for a 300 mile rider with little thought. Debit card for gas, tire plug kit, identification, and go! This is a different story entirely. I’ll save that for blog posts. A lot of people ask questions so I thought blogging would be the best way to explain. Here is a little information I threw together to explain the craziness that is the Cannonball Run. I can talk about it for hours, but you’d get a little bored with my eagerness. Here is a summary of most of the questions I’m asked.
What, where, and when?
The Scooter Cannonball Run is a coast to coast endurance event for scooters. It is a test of both rider and machine that covers 2500 miles and takes in some of the best motorcycle roads on the North American continent. It will be run as a time/distance/regularity rally where points are awarded based on miles completed and the ability to maintain the standard pace. It starts Sunday, 22 April 2012 and ends Sunday, 29 April 2012, with 8 days worth of riding across North America in between. The Scooter Cannonball Run 2012 will travel from Savannah, GA to San Diego, CA.
Why not? Your reasons are your reasons. Some ride for charity, some to prove they can do it, some to “win” and others just to see the country. This year, I’m riding for Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska. http://www.madonna.org/ Due to a degenerative disorder, I’ve dealt with fractured vertebrae, a fused spine, several tendon snaps and tears, and joint disorders. I’m thankful for my health. While I have never been a patient at Madonna, I am appreciative of our medical community and the doctors that have healed me, many of which are affiliated with this fine hospital.
What will you be riding? Isn’t that a moped? How fast will you travel?
I’m riding my Vespa GTS 300 Super. I call her Great White. While she may not be what most people would think of riding across the county, she is what I’m riding. Great White is definitely NOT a moped. While it’s confusing to many people, mopeds have pedals and have a low engine displacement. This is a 4-stroke, fuel injected, 278cc beast of a machine! I will cruise at 65-70 MPH carrying gear, bags, and gas. I’ll likely get around 60-70 MPG City, 50-60 Highway.
How will you get my scooter to Savannah?
Because I live so far from the starting line, I need to trailer my scooter to Savannah, Georgia. There will be four of us, from three different states sharing a trailer. We’ll be leaving Omaha, Nebraska on the 19th of April, 2012.
How long will you be gone?
12-14 days: one overnight traveling to Savannah, one night in Savannah, eight nights on the road, one night in San Diego and two days of rest and relaxation in Los Angeles, visiting friends and fellow enthusiasts.
How many people are riding? Who will you hang out with?
So far, there are over 50 riders from all over the world participating. It appears to be the largest number of registered riders ever! Because of the unknown, it is likely that some riders will drop out before the Cannonball begins. I’ll be in good company. I know several riders from past rides and rallies. Many of the other riders, I know from online forums, like www.modernvespa.com and the event forum www.scootercannonball.com
All of the hotels for the overnight locations are planned & booked in advance.
How is the route decided?
Routs are proposed by riders who have participated in a past Cannonball. From what I understand, proposed routes are then voted on 9-12 months prior to the start of the event.
Previous routes include:
2010 = Vancouver, British Columbia to Portland, Maine
2008 = San Francisco, California to Ocean City, Maryland
2006 = Portland, Oregon to New York, New York
2004 = Virginia Beach, Virginia to Los Angeles, California
How does scoring work?
It’s all based on handicaps and math. There are two factors applied to the times to level the playing field. The first factor is based on the actual displacement of the scooter. The second factor is based on the age of the scooter as documented on the registration.
Are there rules?
Oh yes! Rules, rules, rules. It is very well planned, well thought out event. Want to see the official rules? Well here you go! Happy reading: http://www.scootercannonball.com/rules/rules-2012.pdf
How are you getting home from San Diego?
Because of work commitments, I can’t take the time to ride home with our team. I’ll be flying home via United Airlines. My scooter will be transported home on the trailer with our team.
Where did you get scooter?
My scooter came from a Vespa dealer in Omaha, Nebraska. Sadly, this dealership has closed and my dealer of choice is Vespa of Sherman Oaks. Yup, that’s right. My local dealer is 1,800 miles away!
How much will this adventure cost?
Each rider is responsible for all costs related to the event. This means travel, gas, hotels, airfare, payment to support teams, meals, insurance, and etcetera. Anticipated cost is around $4,500 per rider! Yowza!
Are there teams?
Scoring is done at the rider level and there is no team scoring. There are “teams” though, riders that team together for the trip, for hotels, and for support. Our team (yet to be named) consists of four riders and one support driver. We have scooters of varying displacement and it is unlikely that we will ride together during the event. We are a team though, supporting each other along the way!
What happens if you break down?
Riders are responsible for organizing their own support teams. As stated above, I am part of a support team. We will also support a few other riders as well. We have a truck and a trailer driving the course looking for broken down team members.
I am using a Garmin Nuvi, mounted to my scooter.
I am using a SPOT Tracker to track my progress. It will ping at certain places and you will be able to see my movement on a map. I still don’t know how this thing works, but I will by the time the event starts.
Do you need a lot of riding gear?
Yes! Good quality riding gear is important. I’ll be sporting the following gear. It certainly isn’t an all-inclusive list, but it’s a start:
How will your scooter be setup?
Leo Vince 4Road Exhaust
Heidenau Tires (2 on, 2 on the support truck)
Tour Tank Auxiliary Fuel Tank
Custom seat from Pirate Upholstery to make my rear happy 🙂
Vespa top case
Garmin Nuvi GPS
Schuberth SRC System for C3
Drift HD Camera