Cannon Ball Baker Centennial Ride Across America!

As motorcyclists, most of us realize that riding is a key that that opens the door to any number of life’s great adventures. Now I’ve managed to get myself invited to participate in yet another.

But first a little history. A century ago, in 1914, America’s first transcontinental route, The Lincoln Highway was just a year old. The US auto industry was already spitting out about  a half million cars per year and area east of the Mississippi was pretty well served by improved roadways. West of the big muddy it was a very different story. “Roads” often meant little more than trails. Fuel was only marginally available, if at all. And driving from coast to coast was an adventure of the first magnitude. Imagine the challenge of making that trip on a motorcycle.


Enter a young fellow by the name of Erwin Baker. In the spring of 1914 Baker, a motorcycle racer and enthusiast from Indianapolis, Indiana, had already developed a certain reputation for cross country speed records. On the morning of May 3rd of that year he set out from San Diego, California on a 7 hp, twin cylinder Indian bound for the east coast. Just 11 1/2 days later he arrived in New York City. At the time this was the fastest that anyone, in or on anything, had made their way across the continental USA. A New York journalist obviously impressed by his adventure tagged Baker with a nickname of “Cannon Ball,” which stuck with him the rest of his life. Yup, this was THE Cannon Ball Baker!


1457574_761878573824141_2118851008_nA California friend, Don Emde, who has a pretty substantial racing history himself (suggest you google it) , has spent the past couple of years researching the exact route that Baker followed on his epic ride. To the degree possible, he’s identified every road, trail, and cow path along Baker’s 1914 route. This Saturday, May 3rd, on exactly the 100th anniversary of the Baker trip, Emde and a group of invited riders will roll out of San Diego and head eastward in commemoration of Baker’s 1914 ride. Aboard a variety of modern bikes, the group will duplicate each day of Baker’s ride, with overnight stops at the locations where Baker took his rest following each riding day.


Lots of roads like this over the first several days through the desert southwest!

So I managed to get invited to participate in this little jaunt and I’ll be heading to San Diego tomorrow. Here’s a few details of the route we’ll be following. Of special interest is that the route takes us through Pennsylvania on Monday and Tuesday, May 12th and 13th with the Tuesday evening overnight stop nearby in Malvern, Pa. Come on out and meet the group! And stay tuned for more details and trip reports as the event plays out!


Friday, May 2, 2014 • 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. – Sign-in / Show & Tell / CBCR bike and vendor displays / Rider’s Meeting • Cycle Visions, 4263 Taylor St., San Diego 92110 (Old Town area of San Diego)

Saturday, May 3, 2014 • 8:00 a.m. Opening ceremonies / group photo at Sunroad Resort Marina, 955 Harbor Island Dr., San Diego 92101. Ride begins at 9:00 a.m. sharp. Destination: Hilton Garden Inn, Yuma , AZ • 6:00 p.m. Yuma Welcome Reception and Ranch BBQ, Yuma Prison Museum, Yuma, AZ – Tickets still available $50 per person.


Sunday, May 4, 2014 • 9:00 a.m. Depart Hilton Garden Inn for Mesa, AZ.

Monday, May 5, 2014 • 9:00 a.m. Depart for Socorro, NM.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014 • 9:00 a.m. Depart for Santa Fe, NM.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014 • 7:30 a.m. Depart for Dodge City, KS.

Thursday, May 8, 2014 • 9:00 a.m. Depart for Kansas City, KS.

Friday, May 9, 2014 • 9:00 a.m. Depart for St. Louis via Lexington, MO • 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. – Lunch for CBCR riders at Donelson’s Cycle in St. Ann, MO. 3:00 p.m. Depart for Greenville, IL.

Saturday, May 10, 2014 • 9:00 a.m. Depart for Indianapolis, IN.

Sunday, May 11, 2014 • 9:00 a.m. Depart for Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We will then depart for a quick stop at the Baker family plot at the nearby Crown Hill Cemetery. Destination: Reynoldsburg, OH

Monday, May 12, 2014 • 8:30 a.m. – Ride to the AMA headquarters and Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum for tour of the museum • Depart 10:00 a.m. We have been invited by K&C Cycle, the Yamaha dealer in Hebron, OH to make a coffee stop on our way east out of Columbus on U.S. 40. Depart for Greensburg, PA.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 • 9:00 a.m. Depart for Malvern, PA.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014 • 7:30 a.m. – Depart for Manhattan. 11:00-11:30 a.m. Arrive at Battery Park for a patio lunch at the Battery Gardens Restaurant.We will then proceed from Battery Park and ride from Manhattan north to the town of Newburgh. Destination:  Newburgh, NY

Thursday, May 15, 2014 • Motorcyclepedia Museum: 250 Lake St., Newburgh, NY 12550

Learn lots more about the ride at