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Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Cannonball 500 / 1000

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled on an event called the Cannonball 500 and 1000. It's a purely Canadian event designed for motorcyclists that like to ride and not hide. Basically it's a 500 mile (800ish km) and 1000 mile (1600ish km) rides being held in each province on the weekend of June 11-12.

Each province has a pre-determined route for the 500 and 1000 starting at a local dealer(s). There is no fee for the event, just register, show up, sign in and ride. Oh and be back within the cutoff time. You also have to stop in at other dealerships along the route to prove you rode the route. You have twelve hours to complete the 500, and 36hrs for the 1000.

Click on the photo for more info

Sadly, the maritimes were missing from this cross Canada event. So being the two-wheeled aficionado  that I am, I emailed the event organizer, Dave, Purdyman, Purdy and offered my assistance. He had some pretty good routes already made, I just helped tweak them a bit. The big need was finding dealers to be start/finish hosts throughout the provinces.

Right away I knew my friend Tim Hovey at Motosport Plus in Saint John would be up for this, and sure enough he signed on. Now to continue working on other dealers to get this going.

This is not only a great event for all kinds of riders (Harley, sport bikers, ADVriders, cruisers, scooterists) but also a great opportunity for the dealers involved. Look at all the riders you are getting coming through your doors. If I were a dealer, I'd jump on this right away. For the start, offer free coffee, donuts, muffins, etc, and for the finish, a BBQ, make it a party. Show everyone that your not just a store that sells bikes, but a part of a two-wheeled community.

Stay tuned for more on the Cannonball 500 and 1000 as we get more dealers on board.

Oh and yes the Scooter Cannonball Canadian style is in the works, for now at least.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Canuck Cannonball???

Yesterday I posted a link to my blog on the Halifax Scooter Council's Facebook page, wondering if there was any interest from other scooter owners on a Cannonball Run. One post tweaked my attention. "ship your scoots to Nanaimo and we'll start a Canadian one that ends in Halifax" 

Whoa!! That's an idea and a half. Why the hell not? I have a couple of contacts in the motorsport industry, and it would give me something to plan over the winter. So now my brain is working in overdrive on this.

I don't want to call it a race, because racing scooters and small motorcycles, ultra-long distance and on public roads don't go hand in hand when trying to entice sponsors. So if I do this, it could be a rally style with set distances everyday, or it's the first one to the finish line any route you want. While obeying speed limits.....of course.

Ferries are a pain in the ass, and just slow everything down, so I figured why not start and end at two lovely parks. One on the Atlantic, one on the Pacific. Point Pleasant in Halifax to Stanley Park in Vancouver.

I know, I know, you folks on The Rock, left out AGAIN. When I was living there I would get pissed off too, about events being billed as "Across Canada" and have them terminate in Nova Scotia, or god forbid....Ontario. I would love to go all the way to Cape Spear, or at least start there, but it adds an extra two to three days and an expensive ferry ride. This journey is gonna be long enough. If any of you from god's country want to ride this, I encourage you to start at Cape Spear and ride to the start in  Halifax. You will be given extra points and have bragging rights.

If this goes ahead, what kind of bikes are eligible? Well, I'm thinking scooters from 150cc and up, including the maxi-scoots, and motorcycles up to 500cc. I mean doing this on your lazy boy on wheels Goldwing or Ultra Classic is luxury, and it has to be a painful challenge.

Sponsors. Well, sponsors are going to be the hard part, and the most important, not only to help fund this, but to attract riders as well. In no particular order, off the top of head:

Major OEM, Honda, Suzuki, BMW, Yamaha, Kymco
Hotel Chain, Holiday Inn, Best Western
Rider Apparel, Joe Rocket, Olympia
Parts, Parts Canada, Kimpex
Local Dealers
Media, Cycle Canada, Canada Moto Guide (I know a guy)
Satellite tracking, Find Me Spot
Rental Car Agency, Discount, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, maybe an RV rental

Or we go completely grassroots and have no sponsors.

Then there is insurance and the legal side of hosting an event like this, of which I know very little about.

Rules. The original Cannonball had one rule.....there are no rules. I think there will be rules, just not many of them.

Where this goes, I have no idea. It maybe as simple as a dozen or so riders showing up in Halifax and and the first one to Vancouver wins.

Stay tuned for more as this either unfolds, or folds up.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

The Search Begins....

So now that I have a rough Cannonball Run plan in place it's time to start looking for a suitable steed to ride on.

The Real Scooter Cannonball, which is the race I am gunning for, has a 150cc minimum, although the race was won in 2013 by a 70cc scoot. Regardless, a 150 would be the minimum in my mind to race on. At least a 150 is capable of short stints on the interstate if need be.

The other rally, The Scooter Cannonball has a maximum 250cc displacement. Ideally if I were to do both events, a 200cc would be the one.

Nostalgically speaking, a Honda Elite 150, similar to the 125 I had as a kid would be awesome.

These are fairly rare, especially in good condition, and Honda has discontinued making parts for them. That makes it more of a challenge, and finding parts on Ebay a new sport. The upside, it's a Honda and the damn things are stone reliable, and one can be had for $500-$1000. For about $1500 you can get an operational bike and a parts bike.

But is a 30 year old bike up to the challenge of a balls to wall, all out race for 5700km? It sure would be fun to see, and I would like the opportunity to tear into a old machine and learn how to fix it, which pays back in spades when on the road.

The other option is more expensive and less maintenance and labour intensive. Find a used Honda PCX150. They are relatively new, reliable, and more than up to the task. Downside.......$2500 used, close to $4000 new, and to be honest, they lack any real character.

Although in my experience over the years, "character" means I break down, shake, rattle, roll, and have a lot of weird quirky things going on......and that's OK.

Then there is the ever popular Vespa. When you look up scooter in the dictionary, there it is.....the Vespa. Now don't get me wrong the Vespa is awesome. High end, and expensive. Expensive to buy and expensive to fix. The built quality is excellent, and they scream I am a cool scooterist. 

Even a used one with high mileage is on the pricey side and fetch over two grand. Mind you I'd probably skip the Louis Vuitton optional seat like this one.

So it all boils down to what can I get a deal on, and how much do I have to put into it to make it half-decently reliable.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Is a Multi-Year Trip On The Road Possible?? Cannonball Run Update......TWO!!!! WTF!!!!!

A few months ago I came across an article on the inter web about a gentleman riding his Honda  around North America. Not that unusual to those of you immersed in the two wheeled world. Lots of people take time off  to tour. However this wasn't your normal Honda touring motorcycle, not a Goldwing or ST1300, not even a large scooter like a Silverwing. No, he was touring on a Ruckus. 49cc of four stroke fury. Possibly one of the smallest, most basic scooters available.

To sum it up, it was just awesome. Most other people would call it nuts. Most other people, and I am included in this lot, do not have the time to even consider this. I can't imagine my employer and my family giving me the green light to go on a trip that would take over three months or longer to accomplish. At the very least if I did go, the only ones waiting for me on my return would be the divorce lawyers. To be perfectly honest, I'd miss my family too much to be away that long.

So how does a middle-aged man live out one of his dreams and maintain some semblence in life? When it comes to touring and not racing across the continent, it's tough.

Although I think I may have found the answer.......for me anyway. I am very fortunate that in my job, I get a lot of downtime between flights. Corporate aviation can be very busy for a few week, and then be very quiet for weeks on end. Plus I am blessed with six weeks vacation a year. The result of not having very many scheduled days off. I maybe home, but I never know when my services will be required.

The first part of this plan is to use two weeks of vacation for two-wheeled travel purposes. The second part is well a second bike, or in this case a scooter.

For example if I decide to do the Scooter Cannonball, the one from Amelia Island Florida to Seattle, I'll have a scooter sitting in Seattle. That's a good thing. I find a place to store it, and then fly out again in the early spring and ride in an easterly, or southerly direction for week, find another place to store it, fly home again. Repeat as necessary.

If you had enough people doing this, with dealers involved you could actually come up with a scooter fractional ownership business. I might be on to something here.

The Cannonball Run. Well I am very stoked for this, my partners in crime a little less so. I could see the hesitation on Pete's face as we got down to the more nitty gritty details of this. He never came out and said it, but I could sense the hesitation.

Pudge, well he admitted that the three beer buzz he had when I texted him had worn off, and was second guessing this whole thing. My wife and sister-in-law are most definitely out. So that leaves yours truly at 100% in.

If the other two bail, I'll be going for the Scooter Cannonball in July that leaves from Florida and goes to Seattle. Honestly, I think it would be more fun, especially if I happen to be solo.

So for now I am planning logistics for both events. Time will tell on which one gets penned in on the calendar.

After I hit post on this, I had a brilliant, if not really crazy, self abusive idea. In July the Scooter Cannonball, leaves from the Sunshine State and finishes in Seattle. The Real Scooter Cannonball is in October and leaves from San Diego back to the east coast. Ahhhh, you see where I am going with this???

That's right not one, but two Cannonballs in the same year. Wicked or wha? Now the chances of this actually happening are slim to none, because approval from the Opposition Minister maybe tough to get. Let's just say, the idea is on the table, and I'm keen. After all it's only a two day ride from the finish of the first Cannonball to the start of the other.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Cannonball Run...........Continued

Logistically speaking The Scooter Cannonball Run is going to cost us a lot of money. For example, shipping scoots both ways, to Orlando to be near the start and home again from Seattle. Some basic research and that is gonna ballpark close to $2000, and we have to get the scoots to Boston to ship.

Then there is airfare, another $1000, by the time we convert it into Canadian pesos. So before we even do anything I'm in the hole $3K. Hell, I don't even have a scoot yet.

So my mind turns to just riding the Guzzi from Vancouver to home, but that is gonna be a couple of grand in airfare and shipping, and as fun as that maybe, it's not a race.

I then stumbled upon The Real Scooter Cannonball Run. It's a cross-continent scooter race held on the old fashioned Cannonball premise. Fastest one wins. San Diego to Madawaska, any route you want to take.

Now this sounds a little more doable since the finish is only 3hrs from home. Oh, and it's in October, which is easier for time off.

So I sent a message to my friend Jim, better known as Pudge to the rest of the world, "wanna race scooters from San Diego to Madtown?" Pudge is from Madawaska, so I thought it might stir something in him. The response was "I'm in" Whoa, didn't expect that. He was fired up, and ready to roll.

Then another text to Pete, this would not be a hard sell at all. He was in, and started looking on Kijiji for a vehicle right away.

So the team was put together.

Yours truly, who is usually in over his head 

James, Pudge Pelletier, the man from Madawaska, the one who will be given a heroes welcome at the finish line.

and of course my usual partner in crime Peter Oxley, who is up for just about any idea for adventure I have, even if it means cooking his nuts off with bear spray.

  The only problem now was to get past the stupid waiver for the race application. They want previous racing experience or completion of one of their other events. That's not gonna happen since it's not in the budget or time off schedule.

I can beg and plead our case. I mean Pete and I are no stranger to doing a long ride, plus an endurance event where you sit on a scooter can't be physically harder than an Ironman triathlon, ultra marathon or rowing across the Bay of Fundy.

Pudge doesn't even have a bike licence, but he's raced the 24hr of Adrenaline, a big mountain bike race, ridden a few centuries, 100 mile bicycle rides, and can keep up with the best of them. I know he won't have an issue with this.

Plus, the documentary thingy might sway them, and the fact that two and half Canadians (Pudge is from the USA, but has been living in Canada most of his life) will turn this into an international event.

Logistics. We just have to get the scoots to San Diego, and home from Madawaska, which won't be hard. I am hoping we can find some kind of sponsorship to get the bikes out to Cali.

So basically our costs now are finding scooters over 125cc (minimum for the race), shipping, and then airfare. Hotels......I'm hoping we can Marriott it on points the entire way, and maybe VISA point the airfare.

Since this is a bit of an oddball race, and I'm going to film it to make a small documentary, I think it would be prudent to go in search of sponsors. I doubt we could get scooters given to us, but I'll try, and see what happens. I spoke to Kevin Rhea from Olympia Motosports when I was at the AIMExpo and he was willing to help out again in any new project.

Then in no particular order, a couple of the smaller scooter helmet manufacturers, Garmin, Tom Tom, Sena (helmet comm system is awesome, plus they're new camera), Wolfman luggage, Marriott Hotels, Holiday Inn, Midland Courier, Sunbury Trucking, etc. It will be busy letter writing campaign. Hopefully Two Wheels Thru the Bigland and Riding The Trans Labrador Highway will get us some sponsors for the next adventure. I'm sure Canada Moto Guide will jump onboard, they are always up for something like this.

Team meeting is planned for Monday morning. Then we have to break the news to our lovely spouses, and get their blessings.

Stay tuned for more.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Cannonball Run 2016..............On a Scooter

Sometimes something comes along and it just happens to coincide with one of your bucket list items, and it also throws your previously made plans all to hell. Like the three wheels, three fins idea that just got shelved. So yes, Burt is off on another tangent again in the never ending search of two-wheeled adventure and fun.

The Cannonball Run. If you were a child of the 70's and 80's, like myself, you've seen every movie Burt Reynolds has been in, especially the ones he made with director Hal Needham. Classics like Smokey and the Bandit, Hooper, and the Cannonball Run. Goofy fun loving movies revolving around the automobile and outrunning the law, or in this case Smokey Bear.

Now the only thing I have in common with Burt Reynolds is we share the same name........Burt, that and maybe I could grow a kickass 70's moustache like his, but it may take the better part of year.

Last week I'm scrolling through ADVRider and I come across a post in the Scooter section titled Scooter Cannonball. Whoa, what's this? Ya, a cross-country race on scooters from coast to coast.

If you have read any of my previous posts you'll know I have a thing for scooters. I think they are pretty awesome. My first street-legal bike was a 1984 Honda Elite 125. Which I wish I still had.

So I am always on the look out for anything scooter related. I've always thought it would be cool to ride across the continent on a scooter or small displacement motorcycle. Normally this would involve a month of riding, taking my time, stopping to smell the roses, green leafy plants that are legal in Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska, and sip the micro-beers. More or less a retirement trip.

Scooter Cannonball 2016...............3700 miles from Amelia Island Florida to Seattle Washington in 11 days. This is not a true Cannonball run, where you go fast as you dare, drive as long as possible and pick the fastest route to the finish line. This Cannonball is on a predetermined route with daily mileage and checkpoints. Points are awarded to teams or individual riders on time. More like a rally. Oh, and it's restricted to 250cc or less.

Initially I tried to talk my wife into joining me on this crazy assed adventure, her response was.........NO. Although I did notice some cracks in her normal armour, and she was somewhat open to the idea since it was on a scooter. The idea sort of passed when she heard it was 11 days of riding over 500km a day. She did say she would be part of the support team, if we go that route.

My sister-in-law was next on list. Angie has a Honda Jazz, and said yes right away. I don't hold a lot of faith in that since she has never really ridden more than 20km on two wheels. Who knows though, she might actually go through with this. She is a bit of wildcard. At least if she backs out I have time to recruit another crazy arsed sucker. Pete......you there? 

So what has to happen now? Time off needs to be arranged, and a budget needs to be calculated. Costs of buying a scoot, shipping said scoot to Orlando, and then back from Seattle. Airfare, hotels, I have to eat anyway so that is null and void. Then there are the endless miscellaneous costs.
Of course I'll video tape as much of this as possible for Bigland Films. However there has already been a documentary of the 2014 version. It's scheduled for release shortly. What direction I take remains to be seen, and I'm really on the fence if I want to do anything anyway. It just adds extra unneeded pressure. That is of course unless we can wrangle up some sponsors for this, and need some promo videos made.

The question all of you have been asking.........what scooter man? I have stay under 250cc, but really a maxi-scooter is almost like a motorcycle, and probably more comfortable so that would be no fun and less of challenge anyway. A 50cc would be tough, but doing this on a Ruckus would be so cool. 

The Ruckus is very cool, even the chicks dig it..........or are they making fun of them. Damn

Maybe it's the more mature women that like them

The Honda Grom, the ultimate monkey-bike. At 125cc it would be more than capable of the journey, however it is not a scooter per say.

Oh, and chicks dig the Grom too

Then there is the ever popular, the scooter of all scooters, The Vespa. Unless Vespa sponsors me, a new one is out of the question, these are the Ducati of scooters and have a big price tag. So a highly used one will be sought out if I go that route.

Who the hell knows, it's gonna be a long spring and the search is always fun.

Stay tuned as this adventure unfolds, or just plain folds and goes away. You know me.