Cross-country antique motorcycle race hits halfway point in Kansas

A group of bike riders are taking part in a cross country trip known as Motorcycle Cannonball.
Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 10:45 PM CDT
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AUGUSTA, Kan. (KWCH) - It’s a cross-country trip on vintage motorcycles in which the times clocked from stage to stage are secondary to the camaraderie riders build in time spent with one another. This week, Kansas is hosting the participants of Motorcycle Cannonball. Riders are at the halfway point in the approximate 3,800-mile journey that started last Thursday, Sept. 7 in Virginia Beach, Va. and concludes Sept. 24, a week from Sunday, at Oceanside Pier, Calif.

About 100 riders taking part in the Motorcycle Cannonball are seeing much of the U.S. traversing the nation’s backroads, riding motorcycles that were manufactured no later than 1933. Organizes say it’s “the most difficult antique endurance run in the world.”

“This endeavor is extremely challenging, as riders and machines could endure fatigue, mental exhaustion, cold, heat, elevations, and all the ferocious elements of Mother Nature, not to mention the demands of keeping their vintage machines in running order. Riders will navigate the Motorcycle Cannonball course with the assistance of paper maps (no GPS routing allowed),” event organizers said of the Motorcycle Cannonball.

Thursday, participants enjoyed their first two stops in Kansas, arriving at the Twisted Oz Motorcycle Museum in Augusta. Saturday, at Stage 8 of 16, they’ll stop in Garden City.

In Augusta Thursday, Motorcycle Cannonball rider Robert Zeolla spoke on the challenges of the race he said he looks forward to.

“Limited gas mileage. I can only get 65,75 miles out of it,” he said. “So that’s a challenge. I keep track of the miles, when you have to stop, when you have to get gas. Like today,” I probably stopped like seven times.”

The journey across the U.S. creates a strong bond among all the bikers.

“It’s 21 days on the road with old motorcycles with a bunch of idiots that are also on old motorcycles. So at night, it’s great hanging out, talking about bikes with other like-minded people,” Zeolla said.

When it comes time to rest, the riders say they’re thankful for a place to temporarily call home. A rest day in Wichita Friday comes before the bikers continue their journey toward Colorado.

“I’m sure we’re gonna get fed a great meal. Most every city throws a little party for us, which is always so nice,” Zeolla said.