It’s a fact – It took the entire SMOKY MOUNTAIN team to get my 1947 Harley Davidson FL to the start of the 2019 Cross Country Chase. If it wasn’t for the attendees at the various Tech Days held over the past year, I would have never gotten this bike road worthy in time to attempt this crazy challenge.  We have a bunch of hardworking gearheads in this group…


The Cross Country Chase is the new event put on by Jason Sims who runs the Motorcycle Cannonball Run. The Cannonball has been run every two years since 2010 and is traditionally restricted to the earliest motorcycles manufactured. I have run three of the five and am signed up for 2020.  In 2016 they had to be 100 years old or older. Jason decided he needed to do something during the off year between Cannonballs. He wanted an event that was easier for your average collector to participate in. The bikes are probably less expensive, and it requires less time off from work.  Even though the bikes are “newer”, 1930 to 1948, the event is incorporating challenges that make it more daring than the Cannonball. Probably the biggest twist is that you must carry everything you need on the bike. Tools, spare parts, and clothes. Where on the Cannonball you have a support vehicle to do this for you. That means you really must do a lot more planning to determine what is necessary. If you break down during the Chase and can’t get your bike repaired to rejoin the next morning, you are essentially stranded. The ride continues and you are where you are! The cherry on top is a 100-question test that is one of the tie breakers.

The Chase starts the Friday after Labor Day and you can imagine I am starting to get the pre-run nervousness. Trying to take care of those last-minute problems while the clock seems to be moving forward quicker than I like. What parts do I need to pack, do I have room to pack them, what tools do I need, what clothing and gear will I need, what is the weather going to be? So many things going through my mind! I just replaced the rear tire as the one on the bike was probably not going to make the trip. I have had an intermittent problem with the rear brake where it seems to grab occasionally. I have been ignoring this problem as I had a lot of other things to work on and I thought with some riding the brake shoes would wear in and the problem would go away. Well after 1000 test miles it was not going away.. So, with a week left I thought I should dig into what is causing it which meant pulling the rear wheel again! We had the Huntsville Smoky MTN breakfast meeting yesterday and I decided to host a mini-tech session afterwards to get the brain trust to weigh in on the issue. We had special guest star and mechanical genius Roy Chapman in town which was a plus. We came to a consensus and I also decided to deal with the loose actuating shaft that is in the brake baking plate. I hope to have everything back together by the middle of this week for one last test ride, and an oil change.


The way these things go is you can have a 2500 mile trip or a 1 mile trip. It’s a real unknown with these old machines. Keep in mind the last time this bike was on the road was 1976 and I have not been inside the engine, so who knows? I have my SPOT satellite tracker on the bike and if you are really bored at work you can follow my progress for this 10-day challenge.

I will provide daily Blog updates on the ride via Cecil.

Again, many thanks to Team Smoky Mountain for helping me get to the start line!!!