My Cannonball adventure

My Cannonball adventure
Meet "Effie" our 1915 Harley-Davidson Twin 3 speed

Friday, September 24, 2010

Day 13. I Love Effie

Day 13 was a beautiful ride into AZ. My bike ran great. The weather was nice... this is what it's all about! Arrived safely into Flagstaff. Off this morning to Laughlin, NV. Route 66 here we come!

Rough start as we left and hour and a half late due to some chain adjustments issues. (Gotta be safe!)

Special thanks to my crew, who were out helping others all day too. After the lunch stop Effie spit out a pushrod! The rocker arm was so worn out, it broke right off. My team went right to work... it took a village to fix her so i could get back on the road. Thanks Laura, Athena, Pat and Buzz Kanter too. (They picked him up when his bike died after 25 miles)

Off to Laughlin this morning

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Day 12 Alburqueque MN to Gallup, NM

Today was a mixture of ups and downs. Truly. Got off to a nice start. My brother Mark drove down from Boulder and rented a bike for the day so he could ride along for a bit. How cool is that? Too bad it started raining as soon as we got out of the morning traffic.

As we rode along, the road turned into a postcard. Beautiful orange colored Mesas filled the landscape. We rode for quite a while on old Route 66. What a great ride! I love seeing the old motel signs and old gas pumps. Fun stuff. It made me wonder what it would have been like to drive this road when it was in it's heyday. I'm sure I did when I was a kid. Very cool part of the country and history of being "On the Road".

As the skies ahead of us darkened with rain clouds, the group I was riding with pulled over and donned rain gear. I was glad they did a few miles later as it started raining steadily. Normally I just get wet... but glad I had my Harley rain suit, as it rained ALL day.

My bike was running weird, mainly from the elevation... we are up around 6,000 feet. It was running very lean too. Starved for air up here!

We stopped for lunch as it continued to rain. And rain... and rain. I got separated from my group after lunch. We were told that the route we were supposed to take had a road washed out and they gave us directions for a new route to Gallup. Apparently, we were to jump back on Highway 40... WOW. 70 mph trsffic in the pouring rain! At the next gas stop I hooked up with my old riding buddy Jim Petty from SC. Jim had had some major engine repairs and had missed a few days of riding, so that's why I rode with the CA guys the past few days. Jim is such a cool guy. Very nice. We gassed up and went inside to look for some clear glasses. All we both had on were sunglasses, which aren't great in the rain... we needed to see better! While buying the glasses, I asked the women behind the counter if she thought the rain would let up. She said it would probably rain all day. I told Jim I thought I would just go for it. I was dry under my rain suit, but my feet and hands were wet and I was getting cold. (It was a COLD rain too!) He agreed, though there were at least 10 other riders hunkered down waiting out the rain. we didn't see any reason to stand there and freeze, so off we Jim and I went. We got on Highway 40 and of course there was road construction... plus lots of cars and semi trucks zipping by at 70 mph. Our friend Artist Scott Jacobs had been riding along with one of the sweeper "Side car Dudes" all day. They got behind us with their flashers on so people would see us better. I;m not sure why Jim was riding on the shoulder ( I was taught NOT to... can cause flat tires, due to all the junk that gathers on the side of the road. ) I was in the right lane plugging along at 40 mph... when I see Jim start to wobble and slide sideways. Looked a lot like I flat tire that I had the other day. To his credit, he held on to her and got his bike safely to the side of the road. I looked in my rear view mirror and saw the Side Car Dude had pulled over to help him. I wasn't sure what to do... Should I pull over too? I only had a second to make a decision... then, I looked in my mirror and saw a truck behind me.. I guess I should just keep going. I couldn't help him change it and if I stopped I would never be able to get up enough steam to merge back into this traffic. I kept going and in a few miles the sidecar guy with Scott in the sidecar pulled in behind me and followed me the 25 miles left into Gallup and to the hotel.

I was a happy girl to make it! Yeah... a hot bath and a little laundry. Worked on the bike for tomorrow. My wonderful husband Pat adjusted my push rods again... the girls adjusted my chains and topped off my oil and gas. Ready for tomorrow's ride to Flagstaff!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Day 10... Lawton, Ok to Clovis, NM

The LONGEST day of the Cannonball! Effie ran great most of the day. The first 20 miles or so were on this REALLY bumpy road. It was not very well traveled. I could see grass growing up between the ruts and cracks. Ugh... I guess this is what it must have been like to ride 95 years ago. Wait! It was worse. I don't think many roads were even paved back then. It was bouncy. Sure gave my seat and Airhawk pad a workout today!

We rode across northern Texas. String crosswinds and head winds cut down on my uphill power and gas mileage. Even ran out of gas twice. Thank goodness for the extra gallon in my saddlebags! Carb ran weird for a bit. Glad I rode with Steve Huntzinger today. (He's the mechanic who rebuilt Effie for this ride) He helped me and adjusted the carb today. I guess we are going up in elevation. No wonder I lost power a few times today. Hope we can make her run good for tomorrow's ride to Albuquerque.

290 more miles done today! I even get to wash my hair! Hopefully I can get more than 5 or 6 hours sleep tonight.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Day 9 Flat Tire!

Fort Smith, AR to Lawton, OK... Day 9. A pretty darn good day. I think I'm in the groove. The way my day goes depends on how my bike runs. So... I had a pretty good day. That is, up until I got 258 miles under my belt. Only 12 more to the hotel when I got a flat tire on the rear of my bike! No biggies, but I had to get trucked to the hotel and we were up until 12:30 putting on a new tire and tube. Hope it goes good...

I also had to borrow some push rods and a rocker arm from my friend Dave. The ones on my bike are really old ( like 95 years!) and pretty worn out. Other riders have been great about loaning psrts to each other. I returned the favor yesterday when Dave needed a mag and I had a spare. I know... now I won't have one for myself if mine goes out. But, that's the spirit of the Cannonball. Lots of us help each other. One big traveling motorcycle circus!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Day 7 ... in Arkansas

Day 7... Lulu, MS to Hot Springs, AR. Great morning. Ready to roll. I'm riding alone except for Mongo one of the "Side Car Dudes" who trails us to make sure we aren't left out stranded in case of problems. My riding partner Jim Petty, from SC broke down again yesterday and limped in around midnight. He's still trying to fix his valve this morning and it looks like I'm alone today.

Bike seems to be running better than yesterday, as my crew adjusted my valves last night. Too much play in the pushrods again. Athena and Laura work so hard every evening getting Effie ready for the next morning. Plus, they have been running sweep in my van, helping other riders with mechanical issues. These are not motorcycles you can just run for a few hundred miles and park them like new bikes and ride again and again. They go over the chains, check tire pressures, fill oil and gas for the next morning's scheduled take off. Every nut and bolt must be checked to make sure it hasn't losened during the bumpy ride. There is very little suspension on these!

We must check in and show our numbers every morning 15 minutes before our set starting time. This morning I checked in at 8:30 and was on my bike heading out at 8:45.

Right after I left the hotel I crossed over the Mississippi River and headed in Arkansas. The bike was running good and it was still cool enough to feel good before the heat of the day set in.

About 15 minutes later, the bike started losing power. I looked down at the exposed rockers and noticed the rear rockers weren't moving. Oh, oh... running on one cylinder. I pull over and Mongo pulls in a few minutes behind me. We let her cool down and notice the rear push rod seems lose. Soon, my crew pulls in behind us and we take out the tools and see if we can tighten it up. The threads on the pushrod are old and worn, the rod looks a little bent. Hmmm.... a few other sweepers pull in and we try a few things, but can't get her tight. Oh well.... that's it for me for today. Not a horrible breakdown, just a pushrod, which we can probably find from someone who has a spare later tonight. I'm disappointed as we load the bike in van. It's 99 degrees and the air conditioning actually felt pretty darn good after sitting on the side of the road trying to fix the bike. Though I missed out on some miles today. I can get her going and ride again. Not too tough of a repair. We have a day off here in Hot Springs tomorrow. We will have all our bikes on display in the Convention Center here tomorrow all day. It's also laundry day tomorrow!


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Stage 6- seperated!

I need to try and do this every night, even though my crew is down working on my bike on the hotel parking lot. I feel guilty if I'm not helping, but am soooo tired when I get from riding. I guess it's the heat mostly for me, but this is grueling. These bikes are not easy to ride. Plus, the suspension is really not there.

Toast left us today. She's a big part of my crew... been filming since Day one in Kitty Hawk. But, she has a real life and a real job, so she had to leave us today. We hope she can drop in and join is before we hit Santa Monica. We miss her so!

My hubby Pat is here to help too.. He's enjoying hanging out with all his fellow crazy antique motorcycle crazy's! He also knows a lot about old bikes and can help out with the bike.

My riding buddy Jim and I left Alabama a 9:00 this morning. I knew it was going to be a hot one and it was. My bike was running a little rough, so I was playing with my carburator. I looked back and Jim had pulled over. Oh boy. I waited on the side of the road for quite a few minutes when a guy on a Honda pulled up next to me. He said Jim was fixing something on his bike and would be along soon. The sun was blazing and I was melting. Scrolling forward, I saw from my directions that there was a little park a few miles up ahead. There was even a bathroom there! I asked the guy if he would go back and tell Jim I would wait for him there. He was so nice... he even helped me put my bike up on the stand. Long story short. My crew was running as a sweeper to check on broken bikes. They had reached Jim and texted me that he wasn't running. I waited a while longer and then they told me he was STILL working on it. I felt bad, but I couldn't wait any longer. If he got picked up by the van I would be riding alone anyway the rest of the 120 some miles left. I took off, ending up 30 miles later in Tupelo, MS at the hosted lunch spot just in time to say thanks to the people who waited to meet us. I grabbed a quick bite to eat and let my bike cool down for a little while. One of the sweeper sidecar "Dudes" as we call them, Mondo said he would ride behind me to make sure I made it ok. We have several of these guys who will tail the last of the bikes in each day to make sure we are all accounted for at the end of the day. So... we rode and we rode and we rode, making to the hotel in Lulu, in plenty of time. Last I had heard Jim would NOT put his bike on the trailer. His crew had gone out to follow him in. I hopoe he made it ok.

Gotta get out to help mt crew and Kiss Effie good night. She's getting her chains adjusted and all fluids filled up for the mornign take off to Hot Springs. Arkansas.


Stage 6

A foot note to last night's post. My legs are sooo bruised from my kicker. My left leg got hit by the pedal while I was kicking on the right side of the bike... (Which, for some weight balance issue is easier for me to kick start it on that side) My right ankle is sore from kicking when the pedal fell through on the stroke.. also, called "ratchetting" I suppose.

Och. I can barely walk, I hope I can kick tomorrow. My legs and thighs am full of bruises. But.. I am having the time of my life!

I think I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Stage 5

Stage 5 was a tough one for a lot of us. After the steep hills of NC,a lot of the riders thought we were in for an easier ride. My friend Matt Olsen has been working on his Sears motorcycle pretty much non-stop every night. Well... Matt finally got to ride on this 204 mile ride from Chattanooga, TN to Tuscumbia, AL. There was a 3 mile stretch of curves that was too much for the suspension on Matts bike. He was thrown over the handlebars and ended up with a broken arm. We will miss your smiling face out here Matt. It's like we alre already this one big "Cannonball Family", crossing the country like a traveling carnival. Setting up shop in our hotel parking lots to service our beloved machines every night. A family, we help each other and encourage each other after every days ride. I'm so proud to call these people my "family". So proud of Matt for hanging in there like he did. That's heart.


I've sort of unofficially "teamed" up with Jim Petty, from SC, who rides a 1915 Indian. We seem to have started riding together for a few days and seem to ride the same speed, etc.. Nice guy. Stayed with me when I had problems with my bike climbing hills. I've also stayed with him the past few days when he's had some issues too. This morning about 8 miles outside of Chattanooga, he rode up next to me holding the handle for his spark advance. I should have known the would be the start of some problems for him that day too. While going up the BIG 9% grade hill, Jim was flagged down right at the crest by a rode worked. He stopped and of course, could not hold the bike up at that angle. He tumbled over and picked the bike up by himself. I don't think many people could do THAT! About 20 miles into town Jim's exhaust pipe came out of the head on the rear cylinder. After letting the bike cool for a few minutes, we tried to get it to rethread, but we ended up wiring in together until we got to the hotel. Stuff like that is hapenning to most of us. How could it not..? These motorcycles are at least 95 years old!

Off to sleep...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Day 3

My bike is running much better, but I choose to opt out of the second 100 miles through the steepest part of the Blue Ridge mountains today. (a option offered without penalty)

A few more carb adjustments and we'll see how she feels tomorrow. Much more power in the hills today. We're getting to know each other better, my Effie and I.

My crew, Laura, Athena and Toast are a God send. Could not this without them.

My Airhawk seat is soooo comfy. I was hoping it would be and haven't had a sore butt like everyone suggested. 483 miles so far...
Off to bed. Will try and blog more tomorrow night.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Day One

Sorry I haven't posted... too tired. All is well... Here is a detail of day one written by my dear friend Laura Klock. She and Athena, Toast and Lindsey have been great!

I promise to put more photos and a Day two up date tomorrow.

Ninety five years ago a young woman named Effie Hotchkiss decided she wanted to travel coast to coast. And what better way to do that than on a motorcycle? She purchased a 1915, 3 Speed V-Twin Harley-Davidson with some money she had inherited and was ready to go. That is until her mother, Avis, told her she couldn’t make that trip alone. There were still cowboys and Indians, and paved roads were a luxury, besides the fact that a woman on a motorcycle in those days was sure to draw much conversation and attention. So the deal was made between mother and daughter that Effie would buy a sidecar, and Avis would make the trip with her.

They set out to travel from Brooklyn, New York to the World’s Fair in San Francisco, California. It took them about 2 months, and by the time they were done, Effie had dipped her toes into the water of the ocean on the east coast and the west. The story’s been told that she carried water from one ocean with her and dumped it into the other ocean when she arrived. We know for sure that Effie and Avis made history. Their story is an inspiration to women, and men, even today. Effie lived by the moto that “anything is possible if you put your mind to it.” She inspires me.

This morning, September 10, 2010, 95 years after the trip that Effie and Avis made across the country, I report with amazing pride that I am witnessing history repeat itself. This morning at sunrise, we gathered on the shore of the Atlantic ocean in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, to collect water in a jar that will travel in the saddlebag of a 1915, 3 Speed V-Twin Harley Davidson as my dear friend Cris Sommer Simmons carries it across the country. I, along with Athena Ransom and Toast Boyd are on Cris’ crew. Cris has named her 1915 Harley Effie in honor of Effie Hotchkiss, a woman that inspires us. She is riding in a coast to coast endurance run called the Motorcycle Cannonball (, and the plan is to empty that jar of water from the Atlantic Ocean into the Pacific in Santa Monica, California just 16 days from now. And in true Effie style, Cris and us as crew have become a topic of conversation. Cris is the only American woman entered in the Cannonball, and we are the only all woman crew participating. Our common bond besides our love of motorcycles old and new is that we are all Motor Maids (

Athena, Toast and I arrived in Kitty Hawk on Wednesday night to Cris and her daughter Lynsey doting over Effie - tightening bolts, making last minute adjustments, and preparing mentally for the challenge that lies ahead. It was so awesome to see Cris light up when we, her crew for this journey, arrived. She immediately found the courage to give Effie a kick and ride her around a bit. I watched in awe and encouraged and cheered for her. It felt pretty surreal to think about what we were about to embark on….

Yesterday was spent getting the chase van ready, making sure we had a fire extinguisher, spark plugs, tape, wire, tools, gas, oil…all the essentials necessary loaded into Effie’s saddlebags. As I walked through the parking lot I was truly amazed by the variety of bikes I was seeing! Some I’d never even heard of such as the Militaire. This thing is amazing with the strangest front axle I’ve ever seen. And considering it was designed in the early 1900’s, it’s pretty amazing when the owner shows that it’s rigged up with reverse of all things. Indians, Flying Merkels, Excelsiors, Sears, and of course Harley-Davidsons all 1916 models or older, all being prepped to attempt something that hasn’t been attempted as a group like this ever before. Getting ready to travel just about 3,300 miles, coast to coast! I saw some familiar faces such as Dale Walksler, Buzz Kanter, Jeff Decker, David Uhl, Matt Olson, Carl Olson and many more. And of course the world known motorcycle photographer Michael Lichter. Micheal is actually attempting a Guiness Book of World Records feat by riding the entire Cannonball Run backwards on a seat that Carl Olson build for him on the back of his bike! Additional Motor Maids showed up such as the infamous Gloria Struck, her daughter Lori and granddaughter Kathy, along with Terry and Deb…and you can bet we made some noise at our “all girl” table with a few MOTOR MAIDS ROCK chants during the banquet last night.

It’s all really been a blur. This morning after collecting the ocean water (and some sand in my name badge), we witnessed a history making event. All of the entered bikes (44 of them) rode to the Wright Brothers Monument, and were lined up by Michael Lichter for a panoramic photo. And then they took off for day one of the endurance run from the monument. If something like that doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, then you may want to pause a moment and just try to understand the depth of the history that is being repeated, and made. It hits you in a place that’s deep inside. I looked around me and just couldn’t believe why I am blessed with experiences like this, and knowing that I have to share the story. Maybe it will happen again in my lifetime, maybe not, but I know that I am surely going to cherish every single second.

The support vehicles aren’t allowed to travel with our rider, so we headed out behind the bikes toward the next stop which for today was 162 miles away in Greenville, North Carolina. We parked the van, set up the easy-up and waited for Cris to roll in. This morning when she left I felt like I was sending my baby off to kindergarten and waiting for her to ride in was like waiting to hear how that first day of school went. Athena and I were pacing the parking lot! Toast is along filming this history making event and she found a lot of humor in our reactions.

About an hour later, Cris pulled in! She made it through the first day! She had some challenges and told us she “rode it ugly”. But the first day, the first time, is always when we learn the most right? We sent her off to bed and went to work. We are settling into what our tasks will be for the next 15 days of this journey. I’ve become an expert in the roll charts, refilling gas, oil and the saddlebags with the necessities, and Athena had the honor and privilege tonight of working beside Steve Huntsinger and Dale Walksler as they walked us through some adjustments that were needed for Effie that we understood but hadn’t done before. So, we wrenched on Effie, and talked to her sweet, because her job tomorrow is to carry our friend and Motor Maid sister safely to the next stop. Tomorrow’s ride is 225 miles.

To Effie Hotchkiss, there were no hard and fast rules about how life ought to be lived, particularly according to how social circles of the day dictated the mannerisms of a well-conducted lifestyle. The motorcycle was the perfect invincible companion to match the tenacity and free spirit of Effie and Avis Hotchkiss. I’m so proud of those pioneer women that went before us. I’m excited that we are bringing attention to an important piece of history, inspiring women of today, and well into the future. Someday maybe our grand kids will read about Cris Sommer Simmons who rode a 1915 Harley Davidson named Effie from coast to coast, 95 years after the maiden voyage, and her all woman crew and feel inspired to do the same! Isn’t that what it’s all about? Honoring the past while we ride into the future. Motor Maids ROCK!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

We're here!

Arrived safely into Kitty Hawk yesterday. It feels like a long way from Hawaii and California, where we started driving the van on Aug. 28th. The van ran great! Loved my AirHawk seats in the van. Shame lsss plug, YES.. but these seat covers made for a very nice ride. Can't wait to try the one on my bike!

Pretty exciting night last night watching my fellow riders and their crews pull in. Some interesting bikes and the people... well, they are always interesting! Met the couple from Germany who are riding. Very nice people. They may have issues with gas, since they have very small gas tanks, but they don't seem too worried about it.

Effie got her photos taken by Mike Lichter in his studio here in the hotel too. She smiled pretty! I found my camera last night and will take lots of photos today.

Gonna fire her up today and take her for a little spin.

Thanks again to all my sponsors and everyone who has been sending me good luck messages. I'll need it!

Monday, September 6, 2010

I arrive in Kitty Hawk tomorrow!

My daughter Lindsey and I left the Antique Motorcycle Meet in Davenport, Iowa yesterday morning. We had a great time hanging out with lots of our motorcycle friends while I signed my books at the GT Motors booth. We set Effie in front of our booth and she was the star for sure! Everyone loved seeing her.

I met a few of my fellow Cannonball riders, who were also on their way to NC. That was cool... I think we're all a bit nervous. I'm glad I'm not the only one.

Also met Mike Wolfe from the show, "American Pickers", who was there picking like the rest of us. Nice guy. I was surprised he knew who I was. He said he bought my book and really liked it. Cool. Nice guy. We chatted for a bit and had a few laughs about his show. (Which I watch all the time!)

Got some help putting Effie back in the van before we took off from my old buddies Slider and Charlie Gilmore with their friend Doc. Thanks Guys! You got those straps nice and tight on her.

We stayed at my brother Rick's house last night in Lexington, KY. Great to see him and Sarah.

We took off towards Kitty Hawk early this afternoon and decided NOT to try and make the 668 miles in one day. I've been driving for days and need to rest up a bit for the ride. We stopped in Lexington, VA tonight and got a hotel. No accident that we decided on Lexington. It was an easy name to remember and about halfway. So.... 300 miles more tomorrow and we will actually be in Kitty Hawk! Wheww! 9 months later...

Can't wait to see all my fellow Cannonball friends and make some new ones.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Put the stickers on the van party!

My sweet brother Mark, (who should be reading this blog) had a bunch of friends over for a send off party for 'Team Effie". They also helped me put my sponsor decals on my van. I was pretty stressed about this, I'll admit it. But, it went great and only took a few hours!
Thanks again to all those who helped, Especially Mark, John and Eddie. You guys Rock!

Monday, August 30, 2010

We're on the way!

Effie and I are on the road... in the van, but making it happen!

With loads of help from our good friend Mark Allen, who was nice enough to help me find the vans ( both the trashed one and the one we have now). He also helped me put the rear seat in, which meant lots of time under the van... drilling holes and attaching brackets in 100 degree heat. Thanks Mark! You are awesome. He also picked up my bike from Steve, my wonderful mechanic and fellow Cannonball rider. Thanks Steve!

Then, my big brother Mark flew into CA from Denver to drive back with me to Denver so I wouldn't have to drive by my lonesome. He's a pretty nice guy to do that. He also helped us with the van too. I couldn't do this without lots of help. Thanks guys.

Mark and I took a side trip down to Moab, Utah and the Arches National Park after leaving Ontario, CA. We stayed on the other side of Vegas and left pretty early.

Hanging out in CO for a few more days while I finish pimping out my van to make it my home away from home for the next month.

Effie is cozy in here spot in the van... she's my girl!

Friday, August 27, 2010

I'm in Califoirnia!

I'm in California! Gonna go see my bike Effie tomorrow and work on getting my van ready for the road trip to Kitty Hawk to start the Cannonball. Stopping in Davenport, Iowa on the way out for the BIG antique meet there this coming weekend. Signing books all weekend too!

Thursday, August 26, 2010


It's almost 10pm... I'm packing for the Cannonball! Almost 9 months ago to the day I decided to take on the Cannonball. It's been a long road already with many bumps and turns. I look so forward to actually getting out there on my little "Effie" and making some miles!

Wish me luck! I'm off to CA tomorrow to check on my van and do some last minute things to it. Need to get a ramp, some extra tools, things I can;t bring from Hawaii. Living out on the middle of the Pacific is beautiful, but tough when you have to pull something like this together.

It's all good. I'm ready and hopefully, will have some new pictures and videos to share soon.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Back in Buisness!

Ok... it's all good. Got a new van. Everyone was fine.
Ins. totaled the other van and I am back on track!

I am so lucky to have such good friends helping me out on this journey of mine. Thanks Mark!

Getting ready to leave in a few days. Packing all the stuff I will need for a month on the road with my favorite motorcycle. Gotta talk nice about her and to her and she'll take care of me.

Got my Gumby on the bike for good luck too. I've had a "Gumby" figurine on my bikes for the past 25 years. Why stop now?


Saturday, August 21, 2010

My van is totaled!

Ok... rough day, but I will keep going.

My friend Mark, who lives in CA and has been helping me with my chase van for the past few months called me with the BAD news this morning. The GOOD news is no one got hurt. The BAD news is that my chase van, which I saw once and never even got to drive, was totaled today by a kid who ran a red light and broadsided my van. Unreal! Mark was on his way to get a cd player installed for me. Last thing on the list for the van until I picked it up next week for my cross-country trip to Kitty Hawk for the start of the Cannonball. Just glad Mark or the dumb ass who ruined my van were not hurt.

So.... now I need to find a van asap! Can she do it? Will she end up riding her beloved "Effie" all the way to Kitty Hawk and back without the van? Stay tuned... lol :)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A longer ride!

Steve got his rear brake working again after rebuilding the whole backing plate. So off we went on another ride. This time Pat stayed behind us as we headed out on a 60 mile loop.

I really must hand it to Steve once again. The route he took me on put me though all my paces. We went up in the hills... long fast curves, then slow twisties. Through town and TRAFFIC! Yes! Traffic. Stop sings and traffic lights. I was nervous, but did pretty good.

We even went on some really bumpy roads. My seat springs work! I floated up and down just like I thought I would. Cool.

The bike ran great. It got a little easier, but I'll admit, it's a lot of work to ride this bike. I will admit, I was a bit mentally exhausted, but also had some confidence after this!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

I Finally Ride!

August 6th... D-day! Ride Day. I finally get to see and ride my Cannonball bike. I'll admit it, I was SOOO nervous. I had been shifting this bike in my dreams for months and finally the day was here I would actually get to ride her! Yipee!

Thanks to my hubby and Steve Huntzinger for the ORIGINAL 1915 HD speedomoter that works like a charm!

At first it was hard. The motor only has about 130 miles on her (Thanks Steve!). So, it's not that easy to kick start. I get it after a few tries. Steve has a route planned out. He still needs to break in the motor on his Cannonball Excelsior bike he's riding. We take off... whoa! This is interesting. Foot clutch, tank shift. I make it out the driveway... around the first curve. (Thank goodness Steve lives in the country!) First stop sign... Yes. I kill it. Okay, got THAT out of the way!

16 miles of beautiful sweeping countryside Steve's rear brake locks up. Not a good thing. But, not his fault either. Bad design flaw for the Excelsior. Pat and my friend Toast, who is filming my first ride ( Oh, joy... ) were supposed to be following us, but took a wring turn weren't with us. No cell phones worked out here. Flag down a rancher who drives me up to his ranch house where I call Pat (who is actually only a few miles away). We get back to Steve's with his bike in the truck and me following. 33 miles for me today! It got easier and I actually enjoyed myself!

Pat took it out too, so we got some miles on her. Yeah!!!

More Riding!

Day two... up at Steve's. We decide to take the day and get the bike registered with the dreaded DMV. We load Effie into Steve's truck and Pat and I take off for the police station to get the VIN numbers "verified" so we can then go wait for a few hours at the DMV to try and get her titled and registered. Many of these old bikes float around without titles. It's 95 years old, who the heck knows where it is?

So... we get the nice policeman to come out and look at the numbers. They were closed when we got there, (CA DMV offices are often closed on Fridays due to budget cuts.) but I talked nice and they said they would find an officer to come out and look.

That being done, we headed over to the DMV with hope in our hearts. Would they accept the officers signature on the form? We were told that only a special "authorized CHP officer" could verify the numbers. Jeez... how hard is it to look at the numbers stamped on the case to make sure they match the numbers on the form? After a few hour wait, the nice man at the DMV (who likes vinyl old records and music) told us he couldn't give us a regular title and registration because of course the friendly police officer wasn't authorized. It's all good. He gave us a temporary one good until Oct 31st!! I was finally able to ride legally! Yeah!! I even got insurance that same day!
We may still end up with real plates and a title but need to make an appointment with the special CHP officer. Of course the appointments may take weeks... but, we still have that beautiful red temporary registration.

Oh yeah, the bike fell on my in the truck while we were loading it on a hill. Ouch. I am totally bruised up now! But still happy!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Some changes to my bike...

Along the way, these past few months Steve, Pat and I talked about things to change on the bike to make it not only road worthy for the 3,300 mile trip ahead, but to make it safer.

Steve changed out the old clincher rims for new wheels and tires. This made a big difference in the way the bike handles. Steve rebuilt the entire motor and transmission. We are running the stock Shebler carb, rebuilt by Steve. He also, (at my begging request) added a front brake. Special thanks to Dale Walksler for the pan for my new seat. which is really surprisingly comfy. When I add the new Airhawk inflatable seat cover I will be styling! My old gas tanks wouldn't have made it out of North Carolina, so the most talented Mr. Huntzinger made me a new set with his own hands. His excellent painter Larry did the old paint job on them and I think they look great! We also decided to remove the original electric headlight and horn. Too valuable and irreplacable to use on this long trip. Pat found me a cool old JD type that Steve made work on the bike. He also got me a tail light at a swap meet that works good. Even has a brake light! Pat even found me an old hand push horn, though I'm not sure how loud it will be. He's been great at helping me find spare parts. What a husband! I'm one lucky girl!


Would also like to thank my crew... Mark Allen, my chase van "wrangler" for finding me a great Ford E350 and helping to make it what I need for the trip.

Athena "Chickie" Ransom, my friend and mechanic/chase van driver for offering to come with me. Athena, for those of you who don't know, is a great custom bike builder and owner of Vagabond Choppers in Fort Lauderdale FL, along with her most awesome husband Don.

Laura Klock... my good friend, who is there to help Athena and keep me on the path. Laura also holds the Land Speed Record at the Bonneville Salt Flats for her bagger. Also races on team Klock with her two daughters, Karlee and Erica, who both hold records on the salt. They are the first mother, daughter, daughter to ever hold records at the same time. Plus, they are nice people too! Thanks to Laura's ever supportive and talented husband Brian, who is also a world famous custom builder.

My husband Pat... biggest supporter who has so much faith in my Cannonball ride. I'm sooo glad he will make most of the Cannonball with me. Don;t know where I'd be without him.

My kids won't be able to attend the Cannonball. but will be with me all the way in spirit. Thanks Lindsey, Josh and Patrick. You always let your mom be who she is and that's pretty cool. Thanks for helping me grow up!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Now... a word from our Sponsors.

I would like to thank my sponsors so much for believing in me and this ride!

A.D Farrow Harley-Davidson
Air Hawk Seats
Arlen Ness
BR Cohn Winery
Clyde Fessler
Harley-Davidson Motor Clothes
Harley-Davidson Museum
House of Rock Records
Kaenon Sunglasses
Klock Werks
Maui Harley-Davidson
Michi Ogino
Mike and Margaret Wilson
Motor Maids
Scott Jacobs Art Studio
Vagabond Choppers
Women Riders Now

AND... My number one supporter, my awesome husband Pat Simmons. You Rock!!

Couldn't do this without all of you... Thanks so much!

It's up and running!

Heard from my mechanic Steve Huntzinger yesterday that my bike is up and running! He says it starts on the first kick and that the new wheels and tires make a huge difference. He put about 60 miles on it. Got about 50 miles on half a tank of gas. This is great news... means I will only have to stop for gas every 100 miles. I will be out riding it on Aug. 5th to put more miles on it. Hopefully, I'll get some photos and maybe even video to post! Whoaaaa!!!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Motor Maids in Cody

Can't wait to ride Effie!

So.... can't wait to ride Ms. Effie in 2 weeks. It's going to be a long and wonderful relationship that I hope continues long after the Cannonball hooplah is over.

BTW, Discovery is filming the event, so it should be exciting!

I'll post again as soon as I have new info and photos. :)

Yes... I am a Motor Maid. photo of Laura Klock, Chickie Ransom and me taken in Cody, WY

New seat!

New seat with bigger springs! Yipee!

Air Hawk Seat

My butt will thank me for this!

May 25th Effie

Effie on May 25th... new handlebars, rebuilt front end, trans is in, frame welded. Waiting on motor to get balanced.


New Handlebars! The old ones were so cracked they would have broke!

I'm Back!

I Know... no excuse for not posting sooner except I've been gone more than I've been home the past few months. It's all good. Book signings, visiting Effie, my 1915 Harley, etc...
Anyway, all is moving along. The bike is about done! We did lots of modifications, changed out the wheels, made new gas tanks ( the old ones probably wouldn't have made it out of California., worked on a headlight, tailights, etc... I REALLY wanted a front brake. The thought of riding in the hills without one was pretty scary for me. Let's see, right foot on brake, left foot on clutch. Oops... how do I hold it on a hill? Anyway, thanks to the "wonderful" Dale and Matt Walksler, I now have a nice front brake. Steve also rebuilt the front end, making me some new tubes for the forks. The old ones were kind of cracked. We got the new handlebars too. Should be good to go test ride and break the motor in around the first part of August.

I went around and around about the speedometer/odometer. It didn't have one and the way the course instructions work, I really needed one. Every morning we will get our road instructions before we leave. They look a little like hieroglyphics unless you know how to read them. It will tell you at such and such mile make a right turn, or which mile you can find gas. Important stuff like that! We also ordered a roll chart
( which is STILL on backorder). This is a well made, waterproof, easy to view contraption that will hold the instructions and allow you to "thumb: through them while you are riding. (I still think it's good to follow someone who really knows the way! lol All kidding aside... I have been taking the Cannonball very seriously and will be ready for Kitty Hawk, NC soon enough.

The BIG news is that my future chase van ( which I am shopping for now) can't follow us, but go up ahead of us and meet us at the hotel each night. Intersetingly enough, I guess I really can't call it a chase vehicle, now can I?:) The good news is that Athena Ransom, my crew can have a cold drink ready for me when I arrive and do my laundry while I'm out riding each day! I'm okay with not having 70 rv's plugging away with ius on bikes trying to see around them. This is going to be fun! I'm planning on carrying my own tools, water, gas, oil anyway. This makes it more like "real lfe: anyway. I'm all for it!

I've also have the good fortune to have some great sponsors behind me. People like:
( in no special order) Arlen Ness, A.D Farrow Harley-Davidson, Air Hawk Seats, Kaenon Sunglasses, Women Riders Now, House Of Rock Records, Harley-Davidson Motor Clothes, Bruce Cohn Winery, Maui Harley-Davidson and last but not least, my wonderful Motor Maids sisters. I just had a chance to go to my very first Motor Maids convention and it was more fun than I ever thought it would be. had a great 1,400 roundtrip ride with my riding buddies Laura Klock and Athena (Chickie) Ransom. We did a 700 mile day back from Cody, WY ( where the convention was held) to Mitchell, South Dakota where Laura lives. She was nice enough to loan me her brand new 2010 110 cu inch Screaming Eagle Harley Twin Cam. Great bike! My butt wasn't even sore!

Back to the Cannonball. I will update with some new photos when I get them uploaded. The bike is ready to fire up! Can't wait to see her again. It's been a while since I made the trip though I am in touch with Steve all the time and we've made plenty of decisions together on seats, batteries, lights, brakes, etc...

I'm ready to go!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Update on my bike & my body!

Got an update on my bike from Steve today. Things are moving along.

He is still waiting for the pistons, but is about ready to start putting the motor back together. He got the seat post rebuilt and the seat mounted. (Still need to apply the gel padding. oh yeah!)

We need to find some handlebars, as mine are badly cracked and will break if the bike falls over. Since there are NO 1915 handlebars floating around to buy, we will have to buy some repro ones.
Dale Walksler told us about a guy in Michigan who is supposedly the 'Steve Huntzinger of Handlebars. " We called Tom and he happens to have a one that he made for someone else who didn't need it. $390.00 and it's ours! Steve was happy to hear this, but wished he could get them sooner than the end of this month (April) that Tom quoted us. He will just have to work around it.

As for "My Body". I worked out Mon., Wed., and Fri. this week again with a trainer. Well worth it. I feel great, am targeting strengthening my back, shoulders and arms. Areas that I will need to pilot this old bike across the 3,300 mile ride this coming Fall. I plan on keeping the exercise program up to be in the best shape I can be in this coming September.

Also need to really start working on Sponsors. Gotta make some calls and get it going. Tis ride is gathering lots of attention and any sponsors I have will garner a lot of attention, as there are only 2 other women riding in the field of 70 riders. One from Bavaria and another from England I believe. Both will be in the single cylinder class. I look forward to meeting them both!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

More photos...

Effie Lives!

Pat and I drove up to see Effie at Steve Huntzinger's a few days ago. It was funny, cause I walked in and asked him where she was... I seriously didn't see the bare frame sitting in the middle of the floor in front of me! There it was, bare naked, every part off to be examined and rebuilt to make the trip across the country.

We went over what he found. The frame had a crack in it near the bottom. Same with the forks.( Though they were more just worn.) Apparently, water had gotten into the frame and froze, cracking the metal. The bike was from Michigan when Pat got it over 25 years ago, so that makes sense. Steve will fix both problems. So glad we took it to him to go over. I wouldn't have wanted to trust a 95 year old, cracked frame to go 3,300 miles! The handlebar has a crack too, so we will replace that. If not, if the bike fell over, it might break completely off... a bad way to end my cannonball attempt. Again, thanks to Steve I will have every chance to finish the race as possible.

He showed me a seat pan that we are going to use instead of the old, hard bicycle style seat. This one will have plenty of padding, a gel underneath and a sheepskin on top. Will still be a hard ride, but every little bit helps.

He already started on the motor, replacing the old pistons and valves. Thank goodness! he will also make me a replacement set of gas tanks, the same size. We think the old tanks would leak and crack with the vibration. My motor and trans looked pretty good. The gears in the trans looked REALLY good. While the lifters and pushrods looked worn, the trans was great. I wish she could tell me how that happened.

We spent at least and hour or two going over ideas for lights and brakes. Decided on 21 inch wheels to replace the 28 inch 95 year old wheels.

Things will go back together pretty quick I hope... Our plan is to go back out the end of May and ride the bike. Need to break the motor in while Steve is around to help me learn what I need to know. Every bike has it's little things you need to know about starting, running etc...

It's getting pretty exciting!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Off to see "Effie" tomorrow

On our way up to see my motorcycle "Effie". Though she is apart getting some work done to get ready for our Sept. adventure, I am excited to see her apart. I've gotten to know some of these parts "up close and personal, but seeing her stripped down will be a treat.

I've got my camera ready...

Monday, March 15, 2010

My Bike is in pieces

Talked to Steve Huntzinger, who is working on my bike. He has it all apart and says the motor looks really good, besides the some normal wear. He's going to put some new bearings in the trans, but it looks good too. The rear wheel bearings were pretty worn out, so he will replace them. The front end was tweaked and Steve was able to straighten the forks. The headstock, of all things was on backwards! Which caused the front end to be kicked out 3/4 of an inch. No wonder it rode so smooth! lol He corrected that and will put it on right. I think the thing about working on these old bikes is that people often took them apart and didn't put them back together right. (That's what digital cameras are for!)

Steve us also going to put a newer seat on the bike for me. The old one is pretty hard. Steve says this will help prevent what he calls "Serious Monkey Butt Syndrome"! What ever that is.. I have a weird vision in my head of that! Ugh...
Maybe I can get a gel seat to out over it and a sheepskin over that? Hmmm... lots to think about before next September. 6 months from now I'll be out there doin' the ride!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Daytona was COLD....

Daytona was COLD. Had lots of fun though.

Here's a photo of me and my honey on Dale Walklser's 1915 HD.

Monday, March 8, 2010


Effie is in California!
After shipping her off to Honolulu she sat there for a few days waiting to get unloaded. Finally, she flew to LAX and was picked up and delivered to our friend Steve Huntzinger, who will take her apart and put her back together. Steve has promised to send some pictures of the motor being rebuilt for me.

Got the word she arrived safely while in Daytona at Bike Week freezing our butts off.

While in Florida we stopped at the Eustis AMCA Meet where we scrounged a few parts. An extra magento for the 1915 among the spoils!

Daytona was cold, but great. Did a bunch of book signings and was filmed for a CBS Sunday Morning segment on women motorcyclists. Checked out lots of friends and made some new ones. Loved the vintage races!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Where is she?

Just waiting to hear whether or not the bike made it to LAX. We shipped it by boat to Honolulu where she was going to be unloaded and put on a plane yesterday to LA. No word yet... probably hear later today. Our friend Mark is standing by in LA with his trailer to drive her up to the mechanic's place. :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

On the boat

Bon Voyage Effie. Our 1915 Harley "Effie" is on her way to Honolulu on a boat this afternoon. She will be picked up and flown to LAX tomorrow. Hope she's okay in her crate and that no one drops her. Feels like my baby on her way to her first day at kindergarden!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Effie around all the new bikes

Out of focus photo. but here she is at the Harley shop service area. She's the old lady compared to the other bikes here... 95 years old.

Feb. 12, 2010

Feb. 12, 2010

Sadly, but happy too, we loaded Effie into the bed of the truck for her trip to California for her makeover. After riding her the other day we realize just how badly she is in need of motor work. She ran fine until going up any slight incline. Pat thinks it must be the magneto not putting out enough. The plugs seemed to be fouling a bit and she smoked and coughed too. Carb was running too rich too. We think the needle in the carb is the wrong one. Tough to get the gas/air mixture right. Probably needs rings, bushing and bearings too.
So… there is not much more we can do here. We know our limitations. A guitar player and a writer do not make a real mechanic! The bike will be sent to Steve Huntzinger in California for the “real” work.

So, we unloaded her at the service department of the Harley shop today. They will take care to load her into a crate.

I feel bad that I didn’t get much seat time practicing my shifting, but I will figure out how to do that later. Maybe in CA?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Road Test... kind of.

Today was the day! Bright, sunny and perfect for a nice test ride. We started the bike to make sure it was running okay first. After sitting for a few days it took a bit, but it started and sounded pretty good. We loaded the bike up in the truck and drove the mile or so to the spot we found yesterday. Pat made a test run first and actually got it into 3rd gear for a second or two, but it was too fast for the road we were on. It was easy on the downhill, but coming back uphill (not steep at all), the bike started running like crap. Probably fouling plugs in my opinion. The carb seemed to be running really rich too. We picked this road because it was off the beaten path, but we had people stopping to ask questions and even take pictures. It was a little distracting as I was nervous anyway. My turn came and I rode it about a mile down a slight incline. Not even what I would really call a huge hill. I shifted into second and she took off pretty well. I got to the bottom and turned around and headed up hill and it really lost power. Bummer… I really wanted to ride this today and practice shifting and downshifting. Oh well… at least I got to downshift once!
We loaded the bike back up and got it home. I was a little sad... and disappointed I didn’t get more time with it. I think it needs some major work before I can really feel safe riding it anyway. I imagine it needs some carb work. The jet in there seems to be wrong. Also, I imagine the rings are shot, as any uphill made them start to foul. Oh well… we did all we can here. The next step is to get it off to CA asap so Steve Huntzinger can go through the motor.
After we let the bike cool down a little, we played with the carb adjustment and got it running a little better, but it still seemed not as good as before.
We drained the gas and oil and are going to make some plans to ship it soon.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Test Ride?

Feb. 9, 2010

Pat and I did a little driving around the neighborhood and found a nice road close by that we think I can ride on. It’s a long 1mile straightaway, with a cul-de-sac at the end for turning around. It’s a dead end too, with little traffic. We figured we would do it in a day or so late morning, after people are at work and kids are at school. I think I may be able to get it in 2nd, maybe even 3rd gear.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Need a Road Test

Pat and also realize I need to find a good, open straight road to practice riding and shifting. I would like to try and get out of first gear sometime! I called the Maui Drag Strip a few months ago and they said no due to insurance. I found a Maui Motor Sports Car race track here too. They have a closed course that the public can race on once a month. I called and he said they couldn’t let me do it. I guess the county owns the land and they only have permission to use it for what they do once a month. Other times the police use it for training etc…
I’ll keep looking. There must be a place. I just don’t have a title or registration for this yet. So I can’t get caught by the cops. Reminds me of when I was a kid and rode my Yamaha 100 in the alley so the cops wouldn’t catch me. I was too young for a driver’s license.

Friday, February 5, 2010


Feb. 5, 2010

Pat and I stopped at the H-D shop and talked to Sid, the service manager about helping us ship the bike to CA. He’s ready when we are. We will bring it down when we are ready and they will help us crate it. Sid has a friend on the Big Island who helped ship our last bike and can do it again. We will crate it and fly it to CA where our friend Mark Allen will pick it up for us and take it up to Steve Huntzingers place a few hours north of LA. The plan is to go out and see it and then when it’s done go out and spend some time riding it out there. I will also get it titled and registered there. Too hard in Hawaii. We didn’t have the bike listed on our original shipping manifest when we shipped it to HI when we moved there in 1997. Too bad, cause I really wanted to run Hawaii plates on the bike. Oh well. Their loss.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

No more smoke!

Feb. 2nd, 2010

Got the bike running again. Figured out it was probably the carb adjustment. Wasn’t getting enough gas. As soon as we backed the jet out it started right up. Lots to getting to know this bike. We’re getting there though. After having the carb apart and together so many times now I’m getting to know it like an old friend. Also figured out we should have drained the oil in the crank case. Maybe that’s why it’s been smoking more than it probably should? Duh! The outside rockers have to be hand oiled every so often and that in itself causes loads of smoke. Drained the old oil from the crank case. It was black but didn’t have any weird chunks in it anyway.
Sure enough, we started the bike and it didn’t smoke as much as before. Ran pretty good too. This motor sounds so strong and it runs good.

Took a few runs up and down the driveway. Still in 1st gear, but I was a bit more used to it than the last time. I stopped using the foot clutch and began to learn to use the clutch lever that comes up the left side of the motor. This way I can put my right foot on the brake if I’m on a hill and be able to put my left foot on the ground. It works good, but I still need lots of seat time on this bike before I head to Kitty Hawk.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Lttle Ride and a my first flat!

The BIG news is that 2 days ago, on Jan. 30th. We started the bike, (after taking that carb on and off at least 20 times.) It had been so long since Pat had started one of these that he forgot that you had to open the spark all the way, pedal it, then pull in the advance at the right time. I even started it! Yeah… BIG moment for my confidence. I was starting to get discouraged and began to think w should just send the bike off to Steve in CA to get it running good. I really need this time to learn to ride it. I can’t imagine how freaky it would be to start off in Kitty Hawk on a bike I haven’t had much experience on. Scary thought.

So… not only did we (and I) start the bike… we pushed it up the hill and started it in the driveway, on the straightaway. Pat went first…than goodness. Then, I took the handle bars… made 2 or three good passes up and down! I only rode it in first gear, but it felt pretty good. Talk about a confidence booster! I think I can get netter at this if I have more time. I would have ridden more… BUT got a flat tire on the rear. Unreal.. we worked so hard and now a flat? Oh well. Back to the drawing board for another day. We hung it up for the day. Oh and the carb started to leak again… my beautiful, squared cork washer failed!

The next day, yesterday… Sunday Jan. 31st, we once again removed the rear wheel. Hung the bike from the ceiling n the garage and took the wheel off. Pat thinks that Sid, ay the H-D shop, who mounted the new tubes and tires for us put the washer on the valve stem on the outside, instead of the inside. So, we wrestled with the tire, Pat had a old metal barrel that the top had rusted off that we used for the perfect tire changer. We tied the wheel down with straps and it worked to get the old tube out. We got some dishsoap and water and a brush it slipped off the rim. Then, we carefully put the new tube in. (thank goodness we ordered a few extras) and after a few tries, we got it in okay. Popped the tire back on… more soapy water did the trick. Filled the tire with air and it seemed to be fixed!

We decided… okay, lets try and start the bike and ride it again. Well. After trying for a while it wouldn’t fire. Pulled the plugs, checked the spark and it was there, though weaker than it had been before. Now… I’m getting discouraged again. The horn isn’t working, so the battery must be dead and not holding a charge. I am totally confused as to how this Mag Dyno is supposed to work. I thought the battery was only for the electric lights oh this bike. First year of electric lights for H-D. Not sure what we will do if this is a Magneto problem. We put the battery back on the charger and went out for dinner.

Sunday, January 31, 2010