Saturday, May 31, 2014

Scooter Cannonball Run 2014

It's that time again. Scooterists from across the globe gather to see if they have what it takes to conquer the Cannonball challenge. For the uninitiated, Scooter Cannonball Run is a coast to coast endurance rally for motor-scooters under 250cc that is held every two years. This year's route begins in Hyder, Alaska on June 3rd and ends ten days later in New Orleans, Louisiana. It is not a race.

I had the privilege of completing Scooter Cannonball Run back in 2010. It was an amazing experience full of emotional highs and lows that was rewarding on so many levels. I'd do it again in a heartbeat. But because of poor timing, I have to make due with cheering on this year's Cannonballers. My fellow 2010 Cannonballer and winner of the 190cc class, Matt Benintendo recently spent a few days in Portland, Oregon before heading up to the starting line in Alaska. I had a chance to chat with him about his 2010 and 2012 Cannonball experiences.

Matt Benintendo 

Karen: How did your 2010 and 2012 Cannonball experiences compare?

Matt: The 2010 Cannonball had a lot less riders than in 2012. There was more of a family feel amongst the riders in 2010 even though I knew a lot of people in 2012. I rode mostly alone in 2010, so for 2012 I rode cross-country with other people. Riding solo is boring. I liked riding with 2 to 3 people. Of the two Cannonballs, 2010 was a more scenic and challenging navigational route. In 2012, I did enjoy riding through Joshua Tree National Park. Also, we rode through "Tornado Alley" and saw all the damage. Our Cannonball wasn't affected by it, but I found it fascinating to see the aftermath firsthand.

Karen: I heard you had a co-pilot for the 2012 Cannonball. 

Matt: Yeah, Mr. Happy. I got him in 2010 at our Aerostich stop in Duluth, Minnesota. He has quite the following online. He's coming along for this year's Cannonball.

Mr. Happy

Karen: What have your past Cannonball experiences taught you?

Matt: Get better rain gear. I was soaked in 2010. I also fell asleep two times in South Dakota and woke up to the sound of rumble strips. Wish I had music back then.

Karen: What are you looking forward to this year?

Matt: I'm looking forward to riding in new states and avoiding Texas. I've never been to Alaska. Everyone on two-wheels wants to go North to Alaska. Not looking forward to the wide range of weather and temperatures. It makes gear selection interesting. I like that the route ends in New Orleans during Amerivespa, so I can continue my vacation and see familiar faces I only see ever two years.

Matt's Centerfold for Bumpstart #6 & # 7

Karen: As a past Cannonballer winner, what advice do you have for future Cannonballers?

Matt: I had a lot of guidance from Joel Hamilton (CBR 2008). I ran as light as possible and had a reliable bike. I'm not a coffee or 5 Hour Energy drinker, so I didn't stop that much. Riders should have their GPS wired to their bike and not battery. Some riders used auxiliary tanks, but I didn't.

Karen: Thanks, Matt. Enjoy your Cannonball and ride safe. 

To follow Matt and the other Cannonballer's progress visit:
Mr. Happy fans can visit: Mr. Happy Puppet

Tomorrow I'll have an interview with Los Angeles scooterist and 2014 Cannonballer, 
Eric Almendral.