Says Matt from his home in South Dakota, "My girlfriend flew in from Brooklyn and has been taking awesome care me ever since. At the moment I'm gimping around and moving slowly, but moving. I'm mending up and plan to rebuild the Sears and ride it coast to coast in 2012. Yeah, the crash happened, but for me the Cannonball was the most fun I've had. Plus my bike turned into a donor bike for some of the other riders who needed parts to keep going. The riding was great, but the big blast was the parking lots at night when everybody was wrenching on their bikes. I got to work on other great bikes, even a Pope.
"The coolest part was that a couple guys standing around one night (one from Australia) each gave me a Pope engine case, so now I'm going to build a Pope. How cool is that? Call that a silver lining."
Mike Vils - 1913 Excelsior
Mike, a veteran speedway, GT, trials, and flat-track racer, rode a twin cylinder, chaindrive, three-speed 1,000cc 1913 Excelsior that he's owned and ridden in all kinds of events over the years during which he's restored many machines. He's on the board of directors for the Trailblazer's Club from whom he received major support for his Cannonball participation. The bike benefits from some "hop-ups," including Isky Cams that doubled the lift. Says Mike from his home in Long Beach, California, "These engines, when new, produced 6-7 hp, so we're talking 18 or so with the upgrades. I was flying."
Teammates Dale Walksler, Wayne Stanfield, and David Klepst
Although the Cannonball was more of an endurance run, and top speed not officially a factor, Mike was often blasting past other riders at 60-plus mph. "That bike was going up the hills like a bus. I'm not a crazy person, but I am a wild man. Like when I came around a corner somewhere out in New Mexico and found a herd of burros standing in the road. I just dodged around them and kept going. I was passing bikes right and left, but of course very safely. I made 2,918 miles and lost only a few points when my motor seized on the third day of the run, spewing parts along the roadside. Dale Walksler actually dug through the underbrush and found them, then we fixed my bike in his super shop; five people turning wrenches on it.
"And another great aspect was the people we met across the country in the small towns we visited. It's over now, but I still can't sleep thinking about how great it was. For me it's the people that stand out, both the riders and the townsfolk. If you want to see and meet the American people, go on the back roads on a motorcycle. For me, the Cannonball was a life-changing experience. It's what you leave behind that counts and the positive affect you have on people. I wanted my three daughters and my nine-year-old granddaughter to know what I was all about. And that now includes the Cannonball."