The first ever Motorcycle Cannonball Run roared into Maggie Valley, NC on its journey from Kitty Hawk, NC to Santa Monica, CA on September 12, 2010. Over 50 riders turned out for the 3300-mile trek across the United States, each aboard motorcycles produced before 1915. The sixteen-day event plans to average approximately 230 miles per day, passing through twelve states.
The coast-to-coast endurance run kicked off in Kitty Hawk on Friday, September 10th, with riders eager to "get the show on the road". While some riders were still ironing out a few issues keeping them from making the start, and others experienced mechanical problems limiting their mileage, just over 20 Cannonball entrants completed the first two stages, having covered all 387 miles.
Stage three’s ride into Maggie Valley was expected to be one of the toughest days of the run, covering 208 miles through some of the steepest mountainous terrain that riders would see during the entire event. The route met every bit of those expectations, as several riders opted out of traversing the steep grades and took a "Did Not Finish" (DNF) for the day.
But despite the rugged terrain and primitive equipment, many of the riders pushed through the challenging 3rd stage, arriving in Maggie Valley to a crowd of over 3000 eager onlookers. Wheels Through Time’s own Dale Walksler, aboard his 1915 Harley-Davidson was one of the first riders in, completing all 208 miles from Concord, NC in just less than 8 hours with no mechanical trouble.
"This is certainly the ride of a lifetime, and its been a challenge for all of us to prepare these machines for such a long ride," said Walksler. "We’re only three days in, and I think the gravity of the immense task ahead of us is really starting to sink in."
By 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, the crowd of several thousand had gathered at the Wheels Through Time museum awaiting the 50-plus riders. Visitors from as far away as Canada, Germany, and New Zealand were in attendance, and as Cannonball entrants began to pull in after a long days rider, they were met with cheers from the enormous crowd that could be heard up to a mile away.
In total, 22 riders completed Stage 3 to Wheels Through Time, the earliest motorcycle being a 1913 Excelsior ridden by Brad Wilmarth of Petersburg, VA.
The Wheels Through Time museum experienced one of its busiest days ever during the Cannonball Stop, as visitors began flooding in as early as 9a.m., the majority of which were still present through the museum’s extended opening until 11:00 p.m.
"Today was an event that will certainly be remembered in the hearts and minds of the dozens of Cannonball entrants, as well as the over 3000 visitors who came out to support the riders in the race," said associate museum director, Matt Walksler. "The energy in the air was fantastic, and we’re thankful for all of those who helped make this day a once in a lifetime experience for so many of us!"