Tuesday, August 3, 2021

2021 Scooter Cannonball Run - The Real Deal - Part One - July 12 through July 15

Monday, July 12 - Bar Harbor, Maine to Manchester, Vermont

Today is the day!  The start of the 2021 Scooter Cannonball Run ("SCBR")!  From the SCBR Forum - 

The 2021 Scooter Cannonball was the 9th Scooter Cannonball and took place between July 12th and 21st. The event began in Bar Harbor, Maine with overnights in Manchester, VT, Grove City, PA, Traverse City, MI, Marshfield, WI, Huron, SD, Hot Springs, SD, Rock Springs, WY, Delta, UT, Fernley, NV, and concluded in Eureka, California.

Originally scheduled for July 2020, the event was postponed one year due to the pandemic. The original route, just under 4,000 miles, passed through Ontario, Canada at Niagara Falls, NY and Port Huron, MI. Due to the land-border crossing closing, the route was revised early 2021 to bypass Canada to the south through Pennsylvania and Ohio. The official track included approximately 225 miles of unpaved surfaces over 8 of its 10 days. The final route was 4,495 miles making 2021 the longest Scooter Cannonball to date.

A record total of 185 riders registered for the event and 73 riders checked-in at Bar Harbor. In total 65 riders posted scores and 42 riders are considered finishers of the event. Of the 42 finishing riders only 15 successfully navigated to, and scored, at all 94 checkpoint locations.

We must be crazy or a few shots short of a pint to attempt this ride on little Honda ADV150 scooters!  An estimated 4,500 plus miles across the country on secondary roads in ten days.  What in the heck were we thinking?  Believe me, I pondered this the entire U-Haul trip from Tupelo, MS to Bar Harbor, ME.  But, here we were at the Pier in Bar Harbor ready for the start.

We arrived promptly at 6:30 am at the pier for a group photo and the  SCBR launch.  It was a beautiful day and everyone was in high spirits.  The local news crew was there to cover our event.  I got featured in the video and article.  News Video

Here is the group photo.  Some will finish, many will not.  It will be a grueling test of endurance, mechanical skill, luck and stubbornness!

Such a beautiful place, especially in the sunshine!

Of the five people we "knew" who signed up for the SCBR only two showed up at the start, Jim Boone and Greg Partridge, both from Florida.  Giggle - our interest in the SCBR and our Honda ADV150's enticed Jim and Greg to also purchase ADV150's and enter the SCBR!

Getting ready for launch!

After the group photo we were free to leave on our adventure.  We were quickly off and on our way to the first bonus photo location.  It took us three days to really figure out the scoring so day one - start day - we just followed the route Eric had prepared and our goal was to get all checkpoints and bonus photos.  Sounds easy, right?  Each day to start your clock (it is a timed event) you take a photo of the host hotel (except for day one which started at the pier).  There are typically 3 checkpoints during the day along with any number of bonus photo opportunities.  At the end of the day you take a photo of that night's host hotel to stop the clock.  Then off to the scoring van to see how well you did for the day.

So, leaving Bar Harbor, we scooted to the first Bonus Photo ("BP").  Our path to the PB was on delicious, curvy, tree lined New England roads (you know, the really slow kind of roads).  Finally, we got to our BP.  I won't bore you with all the BP photos because they are mostly not interesting, lol.  Just the front of a building, a sign, a garage, etc.  Not so sexy!  The purpose of the BP is to verify you were on the route.  Although, there is no requirement to follow the "official" route.  This served us well a number of times during the SCBR as Eric had routed us around some really nasty off-road sections.  However, some BP's and Check Points ("CP") were directly on some difficult, scary gravel and/or dirt roads!  LOL, sometimes they MADE you ride on rough stuff.  Hahahaha!

Anyway, we managed to get all the BP's on day one.  However, we screwed the pooch on CP's.  Eric had a route description tucked in his bar bag that we followed.  Unfortunately, he had folded over the last little bit and it was our final CP before the host hotel.  Lesson learned!  This cost us big time because if you didn't get ALL the CP's you were DNF (Did Not Finish) for the day 😡 Well, poop!

Here is one of the more interesting BP's of day one.

First fuel stop.  Most of the time we were riding alone with a scooter passing us every once in a while.  It was amazing at how spread out yet how close we were to the other participants.

We rode approximately 380 miles on the first day most of which was on little, tiny, twisty, turny, rough country lanes.  Did I say rough?  Oh, baby, some of those roads and railroad crossings were brutal!  These rough roads would spank us later.  Beautiful scenery but big time suck!  Oh well, we made it to the host hotel at the end of the day.  This is where we learned that very hard lesson - make sure all BP's and CP's are documented!!

My Facebook entry says I'm exhausted!  Hahahahaha, yup, I sure was and only 380 or so miles.  Gack!  Tomorrow was going to be a big, over 500 mile day.  YIKES!!!  Got through scoring, checked into the hotel, found some food (don't remember what) had a couple of cocktails and went to bed.  Fortunately the weather was pleasant for day one.  Unfortunately, we did come upon a rider who was lying in the middle of the road at an intersection.  Did not look good but there were plenty of peeps there to help or get help.  We slowed down and then motored on when we realized we couldn't help in any way.  We found out later this rider was seriously injured, requiring a 5 day hospital visit and probably months for recovery 😭

Wow, we survived Day One, guess we'll go ahead and start Day Two 😉

Tuesday, July 13 - Manchester, Vermont to Grove City, Pennsylvania

We got up early - like before the crack of dawn - like 4:30 in the morning!  Eric had made a list of sunrise times for each day's start location and we got up one hour before sunrise each day and were on the road by or before sunrise.  Given my history of the last two years, I'm sure Eric thought I wouldn't get up that early, lol.  I surprised him and managed to climb out of bed every morning before sunrise.   We were packed up and ready to go just as dawn broke.  It was magical to see the sun rising in the reflection of the mirror.

Today we were going to be sure and get all PB's and CP's come hell or high water!  Wending our way on rural roads and enjoying the scenery.  Slow going but we had an early start.  We stopped somewhere for lunch and motored on.  

Unfortunately while going through a small New England town, Eric hit the pothole from hell and his tail rack BROKE and his beautiful Shad top box came crashing down the street, bouncing and skidding in front of me!!!!  I yelled over the Sena Com, "You lost your top box!  Stop!".  I managed to stop just beyond the top box in the center of the street that was marked with yellow lines (no traffic).  Eric made a U-turn and we pulled off the street into a parking area that was conveniently close.  He grabbed the top box from the street and assessed the situation.

Not good - the rack (not Shad but a Chinese rack) had sheared off!  I think it was the very rough roads yesterday, the very bouncy railroad crossings and finally that massive pothole caused the rack to fail.  Crappo!  We don't need or want drama!!  Heck Darn!!  Well, suck it up buttercup and make things work!  Eric had Rox Straps in his stash so he secured the top box to the pillion seat and we carried on.  A bit funny, as we were in the parking area sorting things, several riders came by and several hit that same damn, massive pothole and I recall one gal gasping out loud at the big ka-thunk as she hit that hole!  New England roads need attention, lol.  Happy to say that even after bouncing down the highway, the Shad Terra Top Box maintained it's integrity and never leaked or had issues.  Just cosmetic damage 😒.

After that drama we didn't need any more!  Neither of us are Drama Queens and usually our triggers are different so one of us can stay calm and collected during an issue.  Fortunately, this proved true and we were soon on our way again.

As we were riding along a lovely, smooth country highway we could see a massive storm cell in front of us.  Like HUGE.  Big, black clouds and we were riding directly into it's path!  Over the Sena com, I asked Eric, "Do you want to stop now and put on rain gear or wait until we're wet".  LOL.  Fortunately, he spied a farm implement store (in the middle of freaking nowhere) and pulled over.  As we began to don our rain gear the storm whipped in like a hurricane!  Sideways rain and the temps dove at least 20 degrees!  OMG!!!  Giant booming thunder and massive lightening bolts everywhere! I ran to the small cover of the store and Eric (Bless His Heart) braved the rain to roll our scooters under the awning where we finished putting on the rain gear.

It was a very, very, very long, tough, arduous day.  I was tuckered out!  We managed to get all the BP's and CP's, hooray!  We rode just over 500 miles, the longest day we have ever had on the scooters and I was pooped!  No, I was totally, thoroughly exhausted and couldn't wait to find my bed!

My Facebook buddy Robert Stransky met us at the host hotel.  What fun!  Unfortunately, I was so whooped I wasn't much of a conversationalist.  However, he did manage to give me the ADV salute!!

In the photo above I had my dry bag on strapped to my top case.  After Eric's episode I moved the dry bag to the pillion seat.  I was worried about weight on the rear rack.  However, I had a Shad rear rack compared to Eric's Chinese rack.  Probably no worry for me but I wanted to be cautious.  I rode the rest of the SCBR with my dry bag on the pillion seat.  No problems 😏.  We also changed up how we were carrying our gear.  We put both sets of rain gear into my left pannier to provide us quick, easy access.  Previously we had the rain gear under our respective scooter seats but now Eric had his Shad top case on the seat and I had my dry bag on my seat so underneath wasn't so accessible.  This worked out well for us.  Whatever was under the scooter seats was only stuff we might want at the end of the day.

Every evening we saw peeps working on their scooters.  This was a constant theme throughout the SCBR 😊.  Well, not the Honda scooters, lol.  Only those fancy foreign scoots needed extra love each evening!

This day really kicked me in the butt.  I was thoroughly exhausted and couldn't climb into bed fast enough.  I meant to jot down some notes each day about the ride so I could include events in my blog.  That didn't happen, hahahahaha.  Every night I was just too darn tired to make the effort.  I was lucky to post a sentence on Facebook.  But....I did manage to have a cocktail or two every evening 😆.

Wednesday, July 14 - Grove City, PA to Traverse City, MI

Up before dawn, we threw on our riding gear, packed up the scooters, took the host hotel photo to start our clock and hit the road WFO! 

This is another lesson learned day.  Because we were both so tired from the previous day's ride we decided to only get CP's and not worry about BP's.  Remember, you only have to get the CP's to score for the day.  BP's are just that, bonus points!  So off we went to collect CP's.  It promised to be another very long, long day.  Holding the little ADV150's at full throttle we had to giggle a bit.  Some long, steep uphill roads meant 38 mph was WFO, hahaha!  Go little scooties, go!   Of course the peeps on larger scooters just passed us and waved!  That would be a constant theme throughout the SCBR 😵

Start photo of the Host Hotel.

We scooted along admiring the Pennsylvania countryside.  Our route took us through many small bergs and villages.  We were always considerate and slowed down to the posted speed limit through towns.  I can't say all participants were as considerate, lol.

Check Point 1 - White Birch Barn Vineyard

Check Point 2 - Commodore Perry Monument

Check Point 3 - Vermontville Wooden Fireman (the statue was gone so this photo of the Fire Department was considered good)

End Photo - Marriott Courtyard, Traverse City, MI

Not a single BP!  So what did we learn?  Well, most BP's are along the main route so we should have just gone ahead and grabbed them since we really didn't have to go out of our way.  Dang it, 170 points lost that would have been simple to grab.  Going forward, we decided to just get all CP's and BP's and follow the route Eric had spent so much time planning before the event.

Another 500 plus mile day on the scooters.  Yup, exhausted again!  We tried to get to the end hotels before dark.  Some days, like today, we pushed that envelope real hard!  Maybe 30 miles outside of Traverse City the heavens opened up and unleashed a downpour.  Fortunately we stopped and put on rain gear before we got soaked.  It was nearly dark and the rain was pounding down making the road very, very wet.  I simply had to slow down to see, it was that bad!!  Flashers on to warn traffic of the slow moving scooters.  We finally arrived at the end hotel after 15 hours on the scooters.  

We snagged a couple of microwave entrees from the hotel 'store' and a bag of chips, plus some cocktail mixers and trudged to the elevator and down the hall to the room.  I was just grateful to get into bed 😏.

Thursday, July 15 - Traverse City, MI to Marshfield, WI

I peeked out the window at 4:30 am to find it was raining!  YUCK!  I don't mind riding in the rain but I HATE starting out in the rain.  I think most riders feel this way.  Oh well, another 500 mile day was just ahead of us.  Today I was excited because we were going to cross the Mackinac Bridge!  Yippee!  A bucket list item for me!  In all my motorcycle travels across the country many times somehow the Mackinac Bridge never got crossed.  That was about to change 😊.

Start - Host Hotel in the rain

Bonus Photo - Good Hart General Store

Check Point 1 - Cecil Bay Trading Post

Check Point 2 - Island Resort & Casino

Bonus Photo - Sociable's Bar & Grill

Check Point 3 - Todd & Barb's Rapids Resort

Bonus Photo - Texas Jay's Gentlemen's Club

Bonus Photo - Z Place 2 Be Bar

Prior to crossing the Mackinac Bridge, we rode through the Tunnel of Trees Scenic Heritage Route!  A beautiful, tiny, country lane that winds through, well, a tunnel of trees! Our first bonus photo was along this stretch of road.  We didn't ride the entire length in order to save time.  We did have to go around one downed tree but apparently other riders had many downed trees in the path!  Lucky for us our Honda ADV150 scooters are Adventure Scooters and handled the obstacle quite well. 

Visitor Center at the Mackinac Bridge.

Can you believe it?  I didn't take a photo of the Mackinac Bridge!  Actually, we took very few "glamour" photos.  Why?  Well, because we were sitting on 150cc scooters, holding the throttle full tilt, screaming at lightening speeds across the country, hahahahahaha!  Here is Eric in rain gear after crossing the Mackinac Bridge.

File photo - Yup, I crossed this puppy on my Honda ADV150.  Four lanes of which the two center lanes are grated and the two outside lanes are concrete.  I really wanted to stay on the concrete but fate would have otherwise.  Minor road work forced us onto the grated potion of the bridge - YIKES!!!!  I had to remind myself to keep my hands, arms and shoulders loose and let the little scoot move around under me on the grated section.  Not the most pleasant feeling.  Oh well, made it across and the rain had stopped.

Moving right along we were on yet another very rural lane, going uphill at a rapid (not) rate of speed.  There was a sign on the shoulder that said "Loose Gravel" and I suggested to Eric we slow down even more.  As we crested the hill the road surface turned to deep, slippery gravel and right in our path was Merry Mary sprawled out in the center of the intersection, she on the ground face down and her scooter in a similar situation.  OH NO!!!!!  We stopped immediately and before I could even get my camera out, Eric was off the scooter and picking her up.  Thankfully, although bruised, Merry Mary was basically okay.  Eric picked up her scooter and pushed it out of the middle of the road.  Merry Mary needed a few minutes to compose herself so Eric checked out her scooter and made sure it would start again.  What a great guy!

We made sure she was okay and could get moving again before we continued our quest for CP's and BP's.  Note - pay attention to roadside warning signs!!!  This might have been our first gravel road encounter.  But then again, maybe not.  Our ADV150 scooters do great on gravel and dirt.  Prior to the start, Eric had installed new tires on both scooters with an aggressive knobby on the front and a mud & rain tire on the rear.  Both of us were extremely pleased with this set up.  No slipping in the rain and wet pavement and great tracking on the gravel and dirt! 

Not too long after our Merry Mary encounter we were met with yet another obstacle in our path.  Freaking road is closed!  Bridge is out.  No rebel scootering here.  There was no bridge!  Yes, Eric checked, hahahaha!

No problem, we routed a detour and were able to get our required photo.  Now, it was time to head toward the barn but we had one more challenge.  Eric's scooter was out of gas!  Good thing we brought extra with us (as did almost all participants).  Originally, we had two one gallon Rotopax gas jugs.  When Eric filled them we quickly found out one of the Rotopax jugs had a pinhole leak.  Double poop!  That meant instead of two gallons of spare fuel we now only had one.

Eric made quick work of filling his scooter with the spare gallon of fuel and we were back on the road to look for a gas station.  I don't use up gas the same rate as Eric so we figured I was good to get to the next fuel station and I was.

Now it was really time to head to the end hotel.  Unfortunately, this train held us up for a good 15 or 20 minutes.  It was a LONG train!

Waiting, waiting, waiting.....

Finally got to the end hotel and stopped our clock.  This is Dave B., one of the SCBR organizers who actually rode the SCBR with the rest of us!

Eric at the scoring table with Steve, another of the SCBR organizers.

Whew!  What an action packed fun filled day!  Another 500 miles day landed us in Marshfield, WI for the night.

Well, that accounts for the first four days of the SCBR.  Stay tuned because we still have another six days of the SCBR and then the Epilogue which was in itself yet another grand adventure.  So far, the scooters have been holding up even though we've tortured them daily.  Ridden hard and literally put away wet, lol.

Cheers and thanks for following!

Cletha & Eric


  1. Many thanks for picking me and the bike up off the ground. LOL I actually encountered the same train but my scooter had given up at that point. I don't blame it for being done with me. Hope to see you before 2023!

  2. Merry Mary, we hope to ride with you again! Hugs and kisses and take care!

  3. First, congratulations for an outstanding accomplishment. Going across the country in a Greyhound is one thing, but in a 150cc scooter? What an incredible story!

    Second, as I understand the rules, the bonus point locations are all worth the same, but the checkpoint scores depend upon time of arrival (compared to that of the earliest arriving contestant) and a handicapping system based upon the age/horsepower of the bike. If time is a factor, as it apparently is, doesn't that make this less of a rally than a race?

    1. Thanks Bob. Bonus Point locations had varying point values as did Check Point locations. It's more like an enduro ride than a race. The goal is to meet the time assigned to each segment of riding based on what time a 1982 Vespa P200 could get. Then a handicap is applied based on age/horsepower of the scooter. The USA today article about the Scooter Cannonball Run gives a very thorough description of the scoring system. Glad you're following along. Hope to get Part 2 out soon!

  4. Whoo, hooo! Great thrilling tale so far! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Wow, what an adventure! Very enjoyable! Thank you!

  6. Hah! This is great, I really enjoy your emojis and YIKES OH NOS WOW LOLs throughout!

    1. Hahaha, thanks Dave! More to come soon ;-)

  7. Cosmetic Damage makes for great War Stories at the bar. Thanks for the explanation of how the SCBR works. A little Honda Bond or JB Weld fixes pin holes. I save the under the seat storage for things I don't need or hope not too. Great Write Up!

    1. Thanks Donald. Hope you get to ride the next SCBR!

  8. What a trip that was.....truly admire your guts!! Thanks for sharing this andliookingforwardbtothe 6 day epistel and the epilogue!!

    1. Thank you for following our posts! Love that you took the time to read the blog!

  9. Replies
    1. Thanks, love that you are following! Hope to make it to Terlingua soon.

  10. Congratulations on a stupendous ride. Sorry for the crap roads you encountered here in VT, they're not all bad, you just have to ride the bad ones to get to the good ones. I'm the guy in the yellow 'Stich jabbering to Eric, you caught my best side. Thanks for the blog.

    1. Ohhhh, I love that! Thanks for posting. New England was fantastic, the roads sucked. We may go back there again :-)