Old iron enthusiasts visit Sturgis during 5th Cannonball Run

Bikers from across the country on machines from another time all passed through Sturgis for the 5th Cannonball Run.

Some call it a test of endurance, wit, and patience. The bi-annual Cannonball Run brings those who look to the past of motorcycling together for an epic cross-country journey. The motorcycles bring riders and passersby back to the early days of motorcycling.

“These guys are truly, truly passionate about what they’re doing, and they don’t want to miss one mile we’ve put together for them,” said Jason Sims, the director of operations for the Cannonball Run. “If they can fix it on the side of the road, they’ll fix it on the side of the road and keep going.”

The roughly 100 riders started in Portland, Maine and will end in Portland Ore. Since the bikes cannot travel fast, they take back roads their entire journey, going at around 30 -40 miles per hour. To register and ride in the cruise, the bike has to be at least 90 years old.

Erik Bahl rode his 103-year-old Harley Davidson from Huntsville, Ala. This is his third journey across the country in the Run.

“It’s a 61 cubic inch motor, it’s got about eight horsepower,” said Bahl. “If you have a riding lawnmower with 12 horsepower, you’ve got more horsepower than my bike.”

The bikes come from another time where GPS, air ride suspension, and even cup holders weren’t even been a thought. Most of them have a top speed of 55 or 60 miles per hour. To navigate during the ride the riders take turn-by-turn directions off of a 12-foot sheet of parchment on their handlebars which they scroll through on their journey.

To keep these bikes on the road, it takes money, skills, and patience. But with that comes great risk. Just days ago, Bahl was injured on the road.

“I came out of a parking lot, the rear tire was saturated in oil,” said Bahl. “I came out, it slipped, it got caught, and it threw me down. I’ve got a cracked rib right now.”

But even with the risk, these old iron enthusiasts continue to hit the road year after year, touring the open roads of America.

After resting in the Black Hills for a few days, the group will head out to their next stop in Billings, Mont. They’re slated to arrive in Portland on the 23rd.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News

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