WADDINGTON – Four north country motorcyclists have successfully completed a coast-to-coast race on antique motorcycles from New York to California in two weeks.
Jeffrey Tiernan, Steve Flea-MacDonald, Mark Hill, all of Waddington, and Michael Fockler, of Norfolk, better known by their team name The Wolfpack, traveled nearly 4,000 miles from Newburgh, on Sept. 7 to San Francisco, Sept. 23, as part of the 2012 Cannonball Motorcycle endurance race.
The team traveled through all kinds of weather conditions, averaging 300 miles per day on their 1920s motorcycles.
We woke up to snow and 32 degrees in Yellowstone and traveled through 95-degree weather in Jackson Hole, Wyo., in the same day, said Mr. Hill, who placed 19th with his 1929 Henderson.
The most awe-inspiring moment was when we went through the Avenue of Giants in California, he said. You really have no clue how big the trees are there were trees as tall as 350 feet and over 36 feet in diameter. We were riding in a string of seven Henderson motorcycles, recreating history that hasnt happened in over 80 years. It was superb.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the production of the Henderson motorcycle brand. Schwinn Bicycles stopped production of the motorcycles in 1931. Mr. Hill, program director of the Power Sports Performance and Repair at SUNY Canton, said out of eight Henderson motorcycles that were built in his garage for the race, five finished.
We were very competitive, said Mr. Hill. The bikes settled into a routine, and maintenance became predictable as the race went on.
Mr. Tiernan said he experienced problems early in the race, and ranked 38th out of 69 riders with his 1929 Henderson.
We had to perform regular maintenance every day after each stage and change the oil ever other night, said Mr. Tiernan, But we had a great time.
Like Mr. Hill, Mr. Tiernan said the best part of the race was the opportunity to see the country.
It was amazing to be able to ride through the Badlands and into Sturgis, and just to see Mount Rushmore, said Mr. Tiernan.
As for their teammates, Mr. Fockler placed 19th with his 1929 Henderson; and Mr. MacDonald placed 10th with his 1928 Henderson.
We did well and we worked very hard, said Mr. Hill. But it wouldnt have been possible without the support of our family and friends.
The four-man team required a tractor trailer transport for their eight bikes and maintenance tools.
The race involves a huge support network, said Mr. Hill. There are times when, after you finish a race, you want to crash, but you have to be religious in your work ethic and you need people to help you do the mundane stuff to get you through to the next day check you into the hotel, change your route holder, etc.
The team spent eight months preparing and building their Henderson motorcycles for the biannual race.
You never work so hard to have fun in your whole life, Mr. Hill joked. You come home and you always say no to racing again, but I know I would do it again.