Cannonball Bike Run... That's right... For Bikes!

January 16, 2012 | Street Racing

I just came across some old issues of my favourite motorcycling magazine, Performance Bikes, a UK publication.

Performance Bikes ZZR1400In the December 2006 issue there is an article about the Cannonball Run for motorbikes which was run for the second time, in 2006. Performance Bikes magazine put together a bike to enter the race, a Kawasaki ZZR1400, with Dale Lomas to ride. Although the event is publically promoted as a navigation rally, it seems that some of the entrants including Dale were treating it as an all-out road race.

The "rally" started in Germany, went through Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia and Austria, then finished in Germany.

However even before Dale and a group of other UK riders made it to the start, they were stopped before they boarded the UK to France ferry and warned because they were identified as Cannonballers!

Even before the start in Wurzburg, Germany one British rider's event came to an end after he was spotted travelling at 240km/h where the limit was 100km/h. After a long pursuit - 40km - he was fined heavily, his bike was impounded, and he was sent home on a plane. Other entrants are also stopped and warned, and searched thoroughly for route maps and other evidence.

For the start of the race, riders leave before the advertised starting time in an effort to avoid the police. This puts the riders in peak hour traffic.

After averaging 160km/h for the first hour, Dale Lomas get's pulled over and fined for speeding, unaware of a police helicopter following his progress. Less than an hour later he pays another fine, this time for racing on the road. His route card and maps also get confiscated.

Due to the police attention the time clocks are reset for day two for a level playing field. The journey through Switzerland and Italy is without the previous day's police problems, and Dale runs flat-out racing against his main competition, a group of Finnish riders. He is able to out-ride them in the dry but they are faster in the wet. At one point he has the ZZR at it's maximum of around 290km/h and slows to 240km/h to overtake a car in a narrow gap between the car and a tunnel wall. Then he realises that the car is actually a police car and they want him to stop. He runs flat out to out run them, hoping that his 50km of fuel is enough to lose his pursuers. It is, but when he makes it to the next checkpoint he needs a new rear tyre.

The next day, departing from Venice, Dale is running flat out with another rider. They split traffic at over 280km/h and christen the hard shoulder "the Cannonball Lane".

During a photo stop Dale has a minor accident which the ZZR survives with the exception of some superficial damage.

On the final day, Dale is set on beating the Finnish riders. He again runs flat out through Croatia and into Slovenia. Once in the lead he slows for nothing, passing a police Volkswagen Golf at 240km/h and then a second police car. But later he is followed by a black BMW keeping up with him at 220km/h on a twisty section of road. He is pursued for a few minutes and then reaches a police road block, which he runs through despite the police attempting to stop him. With just a single road ahead he knows his race is done, and hides before the police have a chance to catch him.

The "race" is "won" by one of the Finnish riders and the final statistics for the 75 competitors are 8 arrests, 4 bikes impounded, 109 tickets received, 13,238 Euros in fines, 6 crashes, 2 broken bones, and 5200km.

The rally was again run in 2007, but it appears that the Swiss police were ready and were not going to put up with the same type of riding as the previous years event. In the December 2007 issue of Performance Bikes I found the story. About an hour and a half into the event 21 of the entrants were stopped by the Swiss police, whether or not they had committed any road offences. The event was stopped, and the other riders made their way home, trying to avoid capture at all cost.

cannonballbikerun.com

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