The 2012 Motorcycle Cannonball Endurance Run was set to come through Anamosa (where I live) on Monday with the National Motorcycle Museum as a scheduled stop. I was all fired up to see the parade of bad ass old bikes come through, so I decided to take the day off.
I made my way down to the Museum about 10 a.m., where I learned there was a broken down bike on its way here and I was asked if I would help. I quickly said yes and headed up to the J&P shop to meet up with fellow J&P volunteer wrench Sean Salger. Shortly after, a sprinter van pulled up sporting the Hippodrome studios logo with a 1929 Harley in the back with a stuck piston. We introduced ourselves to Jeff Decker (Google him, he does cool stuff) and Mike Vils, the team running this bike in the Cannonball.
I didn’t know what level of “help” they wanted from us. Let’s be honest, neither Sean nor myself had ever wrenched on a 1929 Harley, but they had no concerns. They let us jump right in! In less than 30 minutes we had the engine out. Unfortunately there was a very large hole in the piston that resided in the rear cylinder. But that didn’t deter us. Using the huge selection of parts from the J&P Cycles humongus warehouse, we were able to come up with the parts we needed and start putting the motor back together. Now, it wasn’t all roses and smooth sailing, but without divulging any of Jeff and Mike’s top secret motor specs from their race bike, let’s just say we made it work. We finished it and wouldn’t you know it popped right off and ran like a champ!
The bikes kept trickling in throughout the evening: a crazy little overhead cam English bike with a cam problem, a 1928 that needed a bit of welding and some transmission work for an Australian gentleman. At times it seemed like a museum was being unloaded into the shop. We ended up working late into the night, but we were happy to be there. The attitudes from everyone who came through the shop was one of positivity no matter what the difficulty or problem. And everyone was more than happy to help one another out no matter what the task was. The feeling was one of camaraderie more than of competition. Overall it was an incredible experience and I am happy to have been a part of it. If the Cannonball is coming close to you home town, do yourself a favor and go check it out…or lend a hand.