He plans to roll 3.7K miles on a 1913 cycle - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

He plans to roll 3.7K miles on a 1913 cycle

August 19th, 2018 development
He plans to roll 3.7K miles on a 1913 cycle

By Ally Richmond, Guest Writer


Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines! This September marks the fifth annual Motorcycle Cannonball event, and a Chandler man is part of the action.

Paul Jacobson will join other motorcycle enthusiasts on their vintage bikes as they roll across the country for roughly 16 days, hitting checkpoints as they attempt to get their often-unreliable antique cycles across the country.

With only a roll map for direction, no GPS, and sticking mainly to backroads, this year’s riders will start in Portland, Maine and end in Portland, Oregon making the trek around 3,750 miles in total.

The race, which was started in 2009, and takes place every other year, with the number of riders growing each time.

Unfortunately, Lonnie Isam Jr., the founder of the event, will be unable to see this year’s over 100 riding participants, as he passed away of cancer last year. Nevertheless, his legacy will live on through this event.

His “logic was that if the motorcycle greats could make those miles on the early machines, many with no roads whatsoever, certainly modern riders could do the same,” the website says.

While called a “race,” the event is more of a group effort. The rally’s website notes, “Racers pull together to support each other in the ‘man against the miles’ battle of skill, grit and luck that play out each day for more than two weeks and span the breadth of America.”

Jacobson grew up in Farmington, New Mexico, where his passion for motorcycles started as a result of his parent’s fabrication business, which gave him the opportunity to freely toy around with machines and metal daily.

He has owned his own vintage bikes since he was 18 years old, riding a $100 ’72 Harley in college.

“Currently, I quite often commute on my 1942 Harley in Chandler primarily because these old bikes are extremely fun to ride and it often takes tools to get from point A to point B. You have to become extremely familiar with every nut and bolt and realize each machine truly has a personality,” said Jacobson.

This year is Jacobson’s first ride in the Motorcycle Cannonball event. He is both nervous and excited for the adventure.

“This is my first attempt, and I will be riding a 1913 Thor Model U (twin-cylinder, single-speed). I’m not sure what I was really thinking when I signed up, but eventually realizing this is the most difficult antique motorcycle event in the world, I guess I was open to the challenge,” he said.

The 1913 Thor Model U that Jacobson will be riding is a rare bike, as only about 20 are believed left in the world.

Because all motorcycles being ridden in the event are vintage, the most difficult part of the journey for all the riders will be bike repairs.

“It is not only difficult to operate these machines, but you are required to bring parts and tools to repair your machine throughout the day. In the evening all major work is done with your support crew – in this case my father and a few friends – including possible engine work throughout the night to prepare for the next day,” Jacobson explained.

Sometimes riders even need to get creative with their repairs as well.

“There are no parts suppliers for most everything and all parts are made by myself or certain machine shops with history of this type of work or in the rare case found at a swap meet. I do have many backup parts to keep me going for the 3,800 miles but everything must be setup correctly every time,” Jacobson said.

Jacobson is a motorcycle aficionado, but he has a real soft spot for antique bikes.

“I have owned and ridden modern motorcycles in the past and they are fun but it’s not the same as navigating traffic with a foot clutch and a hand shift,” he said.

Besides his love of vintage motorcycles, Jacobson was also motivated to enter and finish this competition to help support cancer research in memory of his late uncle, Tony Bushard.

“He was a very avid car and motorcycle restoration nut and was fascinated with the Motorcycle Cannonball event, he would joke a couple years ago I would enter my Thor someday and I laughed at him,” Jacobson said.

Jacobson plans to sell posters, giving all of the proceeds to cancer research. The posters will feature his original photo of the Thor/Excelsior dealership in Portland, Oregon, from back in 1914.

People interested in purchasing a poster to help Jacobson’s cause, can email CB18Thor@gmail.com.

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