Coast-to-Coast on Pre-1916 Motorcycles

2010 Motorcycle Cannonball Endurance Run

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Cannonballers gather for a group photo at Kitty Hawk, N.C., before heading off for Santa Monica, Calif., 3,300 miles away.

Photo by Michael Lichter

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On Sept. 10, 2010, 45 riders fired their pre-1916 motorcycles to life and roared off from historic Kitty Hawk, N.C., destination Santa Monica, Calif., some 3,300 miles away. Every bike in the 2010 Motorcycle Cannonball Endurance Run was built before 1916.

The rally borrows its name from the historic cross-country endurance runs made by Erwin “Cannonball” Baker before and after World War I. Back then, Baker had to follow train tracks and bump his way along rutted dirt roads — if he had any roads at all to follow. While participants in the 2010 rally are sticking to hard surfaces, it’s still a workout.

The riders were scheduled to pull into Santa Monica on Sept. 26, 17 days after they left Kitty Hawk. These photos, taken by motorcycle photographer par excellence Michael Lichter, show entrants during the first half of the rally. They had made it through the country’s mid-section and were heading out into the dry environs of the western states as we went to press with this issue.

Mechanical issues have been surprisingly few, and word is the bikes are generally running better the farther they travel. Although a few riders have had to drop out, most are pushing along strongly, the West Coast and Santa Monica firmly in their sights. Check back next issue for a full report on this amazing coast-to-coast rally. MC 

For more motorcycle photos by Michael Lichter, visit Michael Lichter Photography.