MENDOTA — Dozens of antique motorcycles roared through Mendota on Thursday on the biennial coast-to-coast Motorcycle Cannonball Endurance Run. Riders from as far Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Italy and Canada joined riders from nearly all 50 United States on the journey.
Riders left Portland, Maine on Sept. 8 before heading west toward Portland, Ore. The riders took an unscheduled fuel stop in Mendota with hundreds of motorcycles, trucks and support vehicles filling two gas stations at the intersection of U.S. 34 and Route 251.
Viki Sanfelipo, a registered nurse and emergency medical technician, was among support staff accompanying the riders. She said not all of the antique motorcycles would last to the finish by Sept. 23, the predicted end of the cross country endurance run.
“We’re down to about 100 now,” she said of the competitors. “The riders get a point for each mile.”
Many of the riders had been on wait lists before their applications were accepted for the biennial run.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” Jim Lodato said as he fueled his 1928 Harley Davidson. He had loaned his antique motorcycle to a friend for the 2014 run from Atlantic City, N.J., but then caught the bug himself.
“I drove it to Atlantic City for a friend,” he said. “Then two years ago I got on the waiting list.”
Jon Turney also got on a waiting list and then he was accepted on the ride. He promptly shipped his 1927 Indian from his home in New Zealand to the United States for his first ever cross-country tour of the United States.
“I read about it in a magazine in 2014,” he said. “I missed 2016, I didn’t get in and then got short-listed for 2018.”
This was the first time he’d been to the United States in 33 years. He joined riders to fuel up, grab a snack and check over the antique motorcycles.
“Most gas stops are a social visit,” said Rebecca Cunningham, a staff member and documentary filmmaker from Texas. “It’s fun to visit along the route. I feel like the Cannonball is a moving ambassador across the country for motorcycle riders.”
The endurance run occurs every other year and takes a different route each time. Along with antique Harley-Davidsons and Indians were some BMWs, a Henderson, an American Single and other antique motorized machines.
Riders as young as 18 then roared west out of Mendota heading toward the National Motorcyle Museum in Iowa on Thursday night.