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Cross Country Chase Daily Update – 9/23/2022

Chasers had a little extra time before this morning’s departure from Laughlin, Nevada, but for most, this didn’t mean sleeping in… it just meant an extra half hour for last-minute maintenance and repairs. Riders also stocked up on cold water, electrolytes, cooling vests, and whatever else was needed to counteract the blazing sun as they traversed the Mohave Desert.

Today’s route comprised long stretches of desert road, most of which were very lightly traveled. Some of the roads that would normally have been chosen for the Chase were closed due to recent flooding, but the alternative routes proved just as good, if not better.

The mid-day checkpoint, where the daily quiz was administered, took place at Roy’s Motel and Café, our first scheduled stop in California. Opened in Amboy in 1938, Roy’s consisted of a motel, gas and service station, café, and then a motor court serving Route 66 which was the main east-west thoroughfare in those days. There is a long history of leasing, repossession, sales, and restoration efforts, but for now, the one-pump gas station and store is operational, with plans for additional rehabilitation in the future.

Today’s quiz included a question that evoked unique and sometimes hilarious answers. The question asked riders which two celebrities spent their honeymoon at the Oatman Hotel, and a few of the responses were: Ralph and Alice Kramden, John Wayne and Elvis Presley, and in five instances, Jason and Lee Ann Sims. Well, if you don’t know the answer, at least you can have a little fun while trying!

For lunch, a few of the riders and staff stopped in the area of Twentynine Palms and Joshua Tree. A favorite eating spot is the Joshua Tree Saloon adjoining The Station, a renovated 1949 service station. Joshua Tree Saloon features 60s and 70s music and great food, and The Station, along with offering souvenirs, is the location of Big Josh the Muffler Man. In a previous life, Big Josh was a headless, nameless Muffler Man who lived elsewhere in California. He was given a head in 2014 and a name in 2018. Maybe one day he’ll get to hold something in his arms, like the Space Cowboy holding a rocket ship at his home at Buck Atom’s in Tulsa where we visited during Stage 3. For those of you who may be wondering, the first Muffler Man was constructed in 1962 as an advertising icon, and thousands of them were built and customized for various businesses across the country.

Dinner for riders and staff was hosted by Death Valley Harley-Davidson in Victorville, California, which was our final stop for the night. When riders check in at the morning and evening checkpoints, Course Master John Classen and his crew handles these duties, but there’s a ton of work done behind the scenes to create the routes and maps for the Cross Country Chase and the Motorcycle Cannonball. The course, which is different for every event, comes up first as a concept, such as Route 66. Then Jason comes up with potential cities and points of interest, and between Jason and John, a route is developed.

At least one complete course run is executed, and the Chase/Cannonball staff begins working with hotels. Drawing on his 35 years of experience mapping road rallies and his extensive knowledge of just about every road in America combined with his photographic memory, John will map the course. In total, at least five live course runs are completed before finalizing the route. And during the event, the crew travels each day’s course the day before as well as early in the morning of the day riders will hit the course. Of course not everything goes exactly according to plan—the staff must react quickly to road closings and communicate alternate routes to the riders.

For the past several days, fewer bikes had to ride on the sweep trailers. Today was a real heartbreaker for some of the riders, though. Jim Gilfoyle (#34), who led Class 2 yesterday as well as achieving second place overall, had to load his ’38 EL on the trailer. And Jody Perewitz (#79) who was having suspected generator problems yesterday was ready for today with two fully charged batteries to take her the entire 248 miles to Victorville. However, fate intervened, and her rear tire blew out. Fortunately her riding and racing skills kept her upright, but her ‘ 36 VLH ended up on the trailer—and this was after a new tire and rim were mounted after a previous flat.

For Stage 8, Dave Currier (#64) is still first in Class 1 as well as leading the overall score. However, Richard Campbell (#96) has moved back up to the Class 2 lead, with Roger Green (#37) holding onto his Class 3 lead by only a point between him and the challenger Todd Cameron (#1).

Stage 9 finishes the day in Burbank, California, where an end-of-the-road social for riders and staff is planned. With only two days remaining, there are still no sure winners, so stay tuned!