Three motorcyclists from Waddington and one from Norfolk are running in the cross-country 2012 Cannonball Motorcycle Challenge for vintage two-wheeled machines.
And a teacher of motorcycle mechanics at SUNY Canton has a stake in the event, since he helped prepare the antiques for the tour.
Steve MacDonald of Waddington, riding #64, was in 10th spot as of the Thursday check-in in Hines, Ore. after Stage 13, up one spot from the day before.
Mark Hill of Waddington, the mechanics teacher, is on #4 and was 14th, also up one spot.
Mike Fockler of Norfolk, on #65, improved by two spots, up from 21 to 19.
Jeff Tiernan of Waddington, on #5, who had experienced problems early in the event, had moved up to 41st from a low of 48th.
The annual event is for vintage motorcycles made before 1930 and their drivers. The North Country cyclists are reportedly riding 1928 and 1929 Henderson motorcycles. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Henderson brand, and the North Country contingent is only part of the riding group paying tribute to Henderson bikes.
Mark Hill, who teaches motorcycle mechanics at SUNY Canton, has been working for months to bring together a whole fleet of these rare and luxurious machines for the Cannonball, according to event organizers.
Hill’s team accounted for eight of the Henderson entries in the Cannonball, while another nine were entered by others, bringing the total to 17.
“When we got together before the start, we had more Hendersons in one place than I’ve ever seen in my life,” he said. “And then, this morning, we set off with eight of us in a pack. I think that’s the most Hendersons that have traveled together on the road since the ’30s.”
The day went well for the Henderson pack, consisting of Hill, Fockler, MacDonald, Tiernan, and four others. All of the bikes rolled into Wellsboro within their 45-minute time window, so they were all credited with a perfect 210 points, one for every mile traveled.
But Hill notes that’s just the start.
“We’ve been working for months to build these bikes,” said Hill on the first day, “and this morning was our first chance to play around with them on the road. We’ve prepared some of them a little differently, and I think we discovered that Mike (Fockler’s) bike is going to be the hot machine.”
One of those most interested in seeing the Hendersons perform well is 19-year-old Tanner Whitton, a student in Hill’s motorcycle mechanics course at the SUNY Canton.
Tanner has signed on as a support-team member for the Henderson pack, and he’s been involved in building some of the machines in the group.
“Working on these engines has really impressed me,” he said. “I had no idea that people were building something this advanced all the way back then.”
They started from the new Motorcyclepedia Museum in Newburgh, in New York’s Hudson Valley, Sept. 7. After nearly 4,000 miles in all conditions, the challenge will end in San Francisco Sunday, Sept. 23.
In addition to the daily standings reports, there are videos and commentary at http://motorcyclecannonball.com/.