The 2018 Motorcycle Cannonball Race Crosses The Finish Line In Oregon

This year’s epic endurance race between 100-year-old machines was one for the ages

It was billed as “3,400 miles from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon,” but the 2018 Motorcycle Cannonball race actually staged its finish line in a little town 40 miles away from the Rose City, and indeed, not even in Oregon. But, hey, details, right? What’s not up for dispute is that the event featured more than 100 century-old and older machines racing across the country on back roads in an epic motorcycle endurance race: a glorious way to pay homage to a simpler past.

It was also a fitting way to pay tribute to the Cannonball’s founding father, Lonnie Isam Jr., who passed away earlier this year. When Isam first started daydreaming about this whole thing, his only plan was to cruise scenic American back roads a mile at a time from the saddle of his vintage iron, in formation with his riding buddies. But he also wanted to pay homage to long-distance pioneer, Erwin “Cannonball” Baker, and other larger-than-life adventurers of the early 1900s.

Vintage motorcycles racing on back-roads

Vintage motorcycles racing on a back-roads-only route from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon.

Bill Wood/MotorcycleCannonball.com

Since 2010, the Motorcycle Cannonball has been running its vintage race coast to coast, but mapping a different route each year. The concept is pretty simple; take your unaltered, pre-1929 machine 3,500 miles from the east coast to the west in 16 days, following the allotted route. If you and your machine cross the finish line before the other vintage gearheads in one piece, you get to hoist the trophy.

This year’s Grand Finale was held in tiny Stevenson, Washington, on September 23, with a wide variety of bikes from old Harley JDs to Nortons to Excelsior Model Ks, riding from Portland, Maine, then taking a breather for a day in historic Sturgis, South Dakota, before all rolling west to the finish line. According to organizers, riders averaged around 250 miles per day, adding up to approximately 3,750 miles on straight, flat roads. By some estimates, less than 10 miles of the race was on interstate highways. But, really, it was all about the bikes. Take a look at these beauties.

1914 Harley Single

Dean Bordigioni of Team Vino was tops in the Stage 14 standings, as well as the overall winner, riding his 1914 Harley Single—a single-cylinder, single-speed motorcycle. You just know that at the end of the day they were drinking good wine.

Andrew Cherney

1921 Harley-Davidson JD

Tom Banks showing fine form on his 1921 Harley-Davidson JD.

Andrew Cherney

1911 Excelsior Model K Single

Chris Tribbey rode a 1911 Excelsior Model K Single, 4 hp and all.

Andrew Cherney

1923 Neracar

You see the damndest things at the Cannonball race, like this funky hub-center-steering 1923 Neracar piloted by Ben Pierce.

Andrew Cherney

1925 Indian Chief

Shane Masters brought it home to the finish line on this easily spotted 1925 Indian Chief.

Andrew Cherney

1926 Harley-Davidson

This 1926 Harley-Davidson rolled through all 16 days of the 2018 Cannonball with Pat Patterson aboard.

Andrew Cherney

vintage indian motorcycle

Of course there was plenty of OG, lovingly restored vintage metal in the parking lot, like this classic Indian…

Andrew Cherney

1928 Harley-Davidson JD

…and this sweet 1928 Harley-Davidson JD.

Andrew Cherney

1912 Harley-Davidson Twin Model 8-X-E

Out near the finish area was this absolutely flawless 1912 Harley-Davidson Twin Model 8-X-E ridden by Steve Decosa. This model was H-D’s first chain drive bike.

Andrew Cherney

1913 Hedstrom-powered Indian Twin

These are ancient machines, and a lot of them simply could not rattle off the 3,400 miles to the finish line. This 1927 Harley JD was one of them.

Andrew Cherney

1913 Hedstrom-powered Indian Twin

But this 1913 Hedstrom-powered Indian Twin from Lucky Thirteen Racing was no slouch either.

Andrew Cherney

route directions mounted onto the bike

No GPS here, buddy; route directions were mounted onto the bikes the old-fashioned way.

Andrew Cherney

100-year-old bikes

The finish line at Skamania Lodge, about an hour outside of Portland, got completely jammed up with vintage iron as the 100-year-old bikes rolled in. Pretty cool to see.

Andrew Cherney

cannonball banner

The end of another epic back-road-riding coast-to-coast throwdown. Looking forward to seeing more mind-blowing machinery next year.

Andrew Cherney