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Daily Update – 9/14/22

The Journey Begins

What better starting location for this Cross Country Chase ride across Route 66 than historic Springfield, Illinois? The city features portions of the original 1926 Route 66 alignment, and the Americana vibe draws visitors from around the globe, particularly when the city hosts the annual Route 66 Mother Road Festival later this month.

The Chase brought its own festive flair to Springfield as riders rolled into town, with all sorts of pre-event activities planned for the day, starting with registration and tech inspection. At noon, Chase participants rode to the Hazel Dell Elementary School in Springfield for a presentation of bicycles through the All Kids Bike program, a national movement, led by the Strider Education Foundation, to place Kindergarten PE Learn-To-Ride programs into public schools for free. The Chase donated 24 Strider bicycles and one adult bike to the school as a way to give back to the community for hosting our event in Springfield, and to encourage young people to get on two wheels. It will be a common practice for us to donate for both the Chase and its sister event, the Motorcycle Cannonball, to give back to some of the communities that we visit.

Until the moment the students were brought outside from their classroom, they had no idea what was in store for them. Seeing these kids ride the Strider bicycles for the first time was incredibly moving, and none of us will forget our role in the joy and excitement these children experienced.

Registration and tech inspection continued through the afternoon, and riders were offered maps for a short practice run to reacquaint (or, in the case of first-time Chasers, familiarize) themselves with the maps and the road book holder they would be using for the next 10 days. The practice run could also serve as a sort of shakedown ride just to iron out any last-minute gremlins—and there were several.

Even before today, one first-time rider, #65 Bill Gallo, noticed a problem during his 1,000-mile ride from Long Island, New York. During the latter part of his ride, his ’46 WL was smoking and losing a lot of oil, so he took it to Hall’s Harley-Davidson in Springfield to help resolve the problem. It turned out that the clip let loose from the wristpin, causing scoring on the cylinder wall. Hall’s was able to locate a replacement piston, and in the meantime, Reichert Engines and Machine Shop, also in Springfield, bored out the cylinder to accommodate the new piston. Fingers crossed that the piston arrives in time for installation before the prologue starts on Friday!

Hall’s Harley-Davidson also hosted a block party around the corner from our hotel, providing dinner for Chase riders and staff. The block party also gave the local community a chance to meet the riders and check out all the antique bikes which served as the centerpiece to the event. At the party’s conclusion, a staff meeting was held, where our Health and Wellness Coordinator Vicki SanFelipo provided additional training as a continuation of the Accident Scene Management course all staffers are required to complete. ASM is the world’s largest motorcycle trauma training organization, and the skills learned can come in very handy in the event of an emergency situation.

Tomorrow, after rider meetings and safety training, we meet at 3:00 p.m. at Route 66 Motorheads Bar & Grill, where the community as well as fellow riders are invited to come out and celebrate with us. The green flag drops at 5:00 p.m. at Motorheads, where the prologue begins for the 89 riders who have registered so far.