Antique Motorcycles Travel Cross-Country for Cannonball Run

An adventurous group of history nuts and motorcycle enthusiasts are driving cross-country on antique motorcycles, some of them in period gear.

In total, 98 bikers showed up to participate in the 2014 Motorcycle Cannonball Endurance Run. The ambitious riders plan to travel nearly 4,000 miles across America, hoping to arrive in Tacoma, Washington by September 21.

One unique aspect of the Cannonball Run is the fact that all motorcycles in the race were built before 1937. The riders share a belief that the beautiful vintage bikes should be ridden, rather than put on display in museums.

Some of the participants wore costumes to celebrate the ride’s historical aspect. A crowd of onlookers showed up in Daytona Beach to send the bikes off, taking the opportunity to photograph the spectacle as well as the unique motorcycles.

An English couple wearing 1930s riding attire showed off their 1931 Sunbeam motorcycle, which they had shipped from England. Patrick Simmons of the Doobie Brothers also participated in the event, riding a 1929 Harley-Davidson JD while his wife took the trip on a 1934 Harley-Davidson VD.

The two-week trek will be grueling, climbing through three mountain passes in Leadville, Colorado, reaching elevations of more than 11,000 feet. Organizers estimate that only a quarter of the unique bikes will complete every mile of the course. Many will depend on mid-trip repairs and support teams to stay in the race.

When asked why they would attempt such a difficult journey, riders cited everything from nostalgia to love of motorcycle design to midlife crises. The real attraction, however, is the opportunity for diehard motorcyclists to show off their prized bikes and connect with other bikers.

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