next few weeks, I will provide text, photo, and video summaries of this incredible journey. Before I do that, I thought it would be helpful to remind you about the history of this centennial tribute and the recent Conclusion 2022.
began dreaming about this ride some 20 years ago as I contemplated what I might do with my 1919 Henderson motorcycle when the restoration was complete. My father had given me the basket case project about 45 years ago, and I felt like I owed it to him (and even myself) to get it done and do something significant with it. About the same year my father passed away, I discovered [British Royal Air Force] Captain C.K. Shepherd’s 1922 book, Across America by Motor-Cycle, a book in which C.K. described his incredible 1919 transcontinental solo trip on a 1919 Henderson, the same make and model bike I owned. This book continues to
be copyrighted in the United Kingdom and I am happy to report that I have an exclusive license to republish it and derivative works, such asthe popular audiobook that is available on audible.com and elsewhere. It is available from me inpaperback, eBook, and audiobook.
Spirit: The idea of a centennial tribute ride in 2019 slowly emerged as a viable contender for “something significant” for me to do with my bike. C.K. was a British Royal Air Force Captain during World War I. I was a United States Air Force Captain and we both owned 1919 Henderson motorcycles. We were two former military officers seeking to add a common event to our own “bucket lists.” Our unusual quest was to ride a 1919 Henderson motorcycle across the United States. I felt kindred
identity with C.K. in many ways.
Centennial Edition: C.K. regrettably did not include a route map in his book. This caused me to spend an inordinate amount of time researching key details of C.K.’s trip so that I could do my best to precisely follow his trail one hundred years later. By 2018, I had collected so many facts and details that, as a byproduct of my research, the idea of an update to C.K.’s 1922 book was born. Just before I embarked on my own centennial tribute, I published Across America by Motor-Cycle: Fully Annotated Centennial Edition. In addition to the
paperback version, I have also produced an eBook version.
2019: Just as C.K. had done in 1919, I “broke ground” on the 2019 centennial adventure in New York City. I rode the Red One on a side street at Coney Island on July 3rd, 2019. But, after looking at the traffic of New York City and not being an experienced motorcyclist to begin with, I was uncomfortable with my original plan to ride through
the busiest part of the New York City metropolis: Manhattan. An alternate plan was put into place. My safety rider and mechanic, Loring Hill (who had never before been to New York City, but was already veteran rider of two Motorcycle Cannonball rides), adeptly navigated the Red One through the worst New York City traffic had to offer. Loring braved the Williamsburg Bridge over the East River, then rode straight across Manhattan, and then descended into the Holland Tunnel under the Hudson River to come out in New Jersey. From there on, the Red One and I became a team. I got better and better with riding. Everything was finally running smoothly when we reached Burlingame, Kansas. But that was also where my riding
came to an end in 2019. The hundred-year-old crankshaft gave up the ghost and sheared itself from the flywheel in a surprisingly nondestructive manner. So, while I was done riding in 2019, I did manage to get a brand-new high-tech crankshaft installed within just a few months (thanks to Mark & Loring Hill at “4th Coast Fours”).
2022: After 2019, I kept in touch with Wille Fernandez, who drove the support truck and trailer that year. COVID-19 interfered with any restart in 2020 or even 2021, so we had many discussions about what the best way to finish this tribute would be when we did restart. We had learned a lot while on the road in 2019, but my
team’s time was even more limited in 2022. While I would have to make some concessions about how much of the route I could actually ride, the sequel was being hatched! We committed early to do what it took: The Red One WILL arrive at the Clift Hotel in San Francisco with the engine running and its rider no worse for the wear!
Tech Upgrades for 2022: With more detailed route planning done in advance (as opposed to in the hotel every night before the next day’s riding), I was able to create several route maps for use in three different Garmin devices, routes that mirrored the maps I posted on the web site. Willie had a Garmin “DriveSmart65” for his
truck, I had a Garmin “Montana 700i” (with “InReach” tracking) on the Red One, and Glen Pyle, (Willie’s friend and one of this year’s safety riders) had a Garmin “Navigator V” on his BMW K1600. We all also had Sena intercom equipment so all riders, and even Willie in the truck, could easily talk to each other during the ride. These improvements greatly increased both the pleasure and safety of the ride.
Additional Help: As in 2019, my friend Lloyd Hill and
his friend Andy Faust would join us in Colorado to help out with the “off road” segments in Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. Some of those segments ended up being quite rugged, while others thankfully proved to be groomed gravel or dirt roads. Lloyd and Andy two are highly experienced off-road motorcycle riders equipped with modern day “adventure” motorcycles, so they rode wherever on my map I told them C.K. had been, no matter how challenging the terrain. I also had support from Tom Martin, a
historian in Flagstaff who, a few days before we arrived, checked the condition of the planned off-road to the Grand Canyon by driving his truck up the old stage trail that C.K. would have ridden in 1919.
So that’s the background information that I am hoping will provide a suitable common foundation and context for the communiqués that will follow.