Everyone on this ride is on this ride for a reason and everyone on this ride deserves to be. Among this group are world champion racers and world-class motorcycle journalists and dealers and engineers and entrepreneurs.
Members of this group share a level of excellence, I think, because everyone says ‘yes’ to new challenges and yes to opportunities (and, yes, the Cannon Ball Centennial Ride is both).
I realized this during a conversation with Ken Freund. I had seen Ken and said hello in passing, but at Famous Dave’s BBQ I learned more about him – about his membership in the Adventurers Club of Los Angeles, his network of famous friends, about an act of heroism that earned him a Medal of Valor, his work as a writer and master technician. By saying yes, Ken opened doors that led to a lifetime of accomplishment.
Likewise, a few hours ago at the classic car cruise-in here in Greenville, I was talking to Catherine Long who’s riding with her husband Glen Dickerson. She told me that about 15 years ago, they exchanged their architectural firm for something more precious: freedom. Since that day they have collected interest on that decision by exploring America and the world.
I’m dying to talk to Yermo Lamers who, while filling up with gas near Dodge City, met a few Cannon Ball riders and – incredibly — said ‘yes’ to joining the group all the way to New York. I can’t think of anyone I know who could make a major commitment like that on the fly, but Yermo did and he’s earned bragging rights for life.
Of course, the rewards aren’t always life-changing — it can be as ordinary as selecting a new road. Today a group invited me to bypass I-70 for US 50 followed by Route 94 and T. After I said yes, the result was one of the most exciting rides of my life. East of Jefferson City the Missouri River Valley opened up and we sailed along boundless stretches of lingering, looping blacktop intersected by a springing, bouncing series of moguls and twists. Had I said no, I would have ridden concrete chloroform: the interstate.
And remember that when we arrived in Greenville to an outstanding reception, it was all the result of someone recognizing that the Cannon Ball Centennial Ride is a once-in-a-lifetime event. Roll out the red carpet with a police and fire department escort, a proclamation and key to the city, commemorative t-shirts and a special cancellation stamp, and you earn the gratitude of appreciative riders and create a lifetime of goodwill.
Motorcyclists aren’t the only people who wring the most out of life. But based on everything we’ve accomplished over the past seven days, I believe we’re the ones who have the best time doing it.