2016 Routed

In case you haven’t seen it this will be our route for the 2016 Scooter Cannonball leaving Fernandina Beach, Florida on July 5th and ending in Mukilteo, Washington on July 15th.


A few facts about this year’s cannonball.

  • Total miles 3,606 if you stay on the official route, as long as you get all the checkpoints you are free to ride any route you want.
  • Oldest scooter is a 1951 Moto Guzzi Galletto.
  • Newest scooter is a 2016 Vespa Sprint being picked up just days before the start.
  • 6 pre 1980 scooters
  • 11 scooters under 175cc – 4 @ 125cc
  • 16 Vespas
  • Half of all registered scooters are from Piaggio Group (Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, Piaggio and Vespa)
  • Second most common is Honda with 9 scooters
  • Typically 40% of those who register do not make it to the starting line
  • 10-15% of the riders ride both to the start and home from the finish
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2016 Prep

For the last 3 months I have been busy doing my best to get ready for the 2016 Scooter Cannonball. from Fernandina Beach, FL to Mukilteo, WA. The natural choice with this year’s route seemed to be the Vespa GTS. Unfortunately, it had been having stalling issues ever since the voltage regulator was replaced last year.  So my mission was to track down the problem and get it sorted. First a trip to AF1 Racing over in Austin discovered cracked fuel lines and several places on the electrical harness where the insulation had split exposing wiring. Evidence of intermittent arching shorts were determined to be likely causes of the fuel starvation dying symptoms I had been experiencing. Replaced both the fuel lines and affected portions of the wiring harness. We replaced the spark plug and cap since that’s a common cause of stalling on a GTS as well. AF1 suggested that I leave the scooter for a few days so they could make sure that those repairs resolved the stalling issue but since I had ridden over for a same day appointment with no way to return to Houston without the scoot that wasn’t feasible. Rode home taking a very circuitous route doubling the distance to make it a cannonball day mileage on my return home. Seemed like the problem was fixed and only a belt, roller and tire change closer to departure seemed needed to complete my prep.

With the goal of getting some butt time I went on a ride with others in the United Scooter Riders only to have the scooter stall after less than 30 miles. WTF?  It fired back up just as it had every other time it stalled and I continued to lunch with the group. After which I decided to head straight home and hopped on I-10. Scoot started to stall again but I was able to recover without a full stop. That caused me to get off the freeway where it stalled again. All in all it stalled 4-5 more times before I got home. Checking around based on the recommendation of a few fellow riders I took the scooter to a local non-dealer shop. There it was discovered that the fuel injector was broken. Plus when the scoot was repaired after my accident apparently the fork were not properly fixed. I had noticed that it didn’t seem to ride as well so had that taken care of as well.

IMG_4503Tabs for the headset that I had noticed were damaged would no longer hold the headset tight and needed replacing as well. Great, custom paint and the shop that did the paint sold to a new owner who doesn’t do body work anymore. I discovered that a chrome version was available and went with that.

Given the multiple issues I figured I should prepare my back-up scooter while trying to get the GTS sorted out. Fortunately this year there is an experimental class for “big bore” scooters. That gives me the option of taking my Scarabeo 500. True it would not be competitive in the main class but it is a scooter that I could be as certain as it is possible to be that I would be able to complete the cannonball and ride back to Texas. It was due for major service anyway after last year’s trips to Key West and the Mexico to Canada border to border ride for my brother’s birthday. So in it went for belt, rollers, spark plug, tires and install the Garmin GPS cradle. There I was in for another surprise – seems a rodent had decided to feast on my brake lines. Thankfully it wasn’t the entire wiring harness like my brother discovered on his BMW K1200LT and the brakes still worked. Replaced the brake line along with the scheduled maintenance and so my back-up is good to go.

Unfortunately by the time the GTS was out of the shop I only had a single day to test ride before leaving for a family trip to Alaska.  So here is my dilemma do have the belt, rollers and tires changed on the GTS and leave for Florida with an untested scooter with a recent history of problem appearing within 500 miles of service or take the tried and true distance scooter that is unlikely to be competitive even within the experimental class?

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Squadra Lumaca

WanWant For the 2016 Scooter Cannonball I will be joining Squadra Lumaca, aka Team Snail with cannonball veteran Capt’n Gary driving support.

squadra Despite the name it the team does intend to be competitive with veterans Bill Leuthold riding a GT 200, Ken Wilson (aka lostboater) on GTS 250 affectionately known as “Big Red” and first timer Walt Driggers II (aka flyguy2) with a Snax 155.

In case you are wondering what I’m riding the answer is “I don’t know”. My hope is to ride my 2006 Vespa GTS 250 but it’s been having issues that I haven’t so far been able to resolve. My back-up is a Scarabeo 500 which would put me in the experimental “big bore” class where the rules are such that it is a bit difficult to determine how you need to ride to place well. So we’ll see what I depart Houston on in a few weeks.

Other cannonball bloggers beside the ones linked above.

Just want to follow along? FollowRide for rider locations. Plus there will be the usual thread on Modern Vespa and some will post on ADVRider in either (or both) the Epic Rides and Battlescooter sections.

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North Rim

For as long as I’ve known my husband he’s always wanted to go to the north rim of the Grand Canyon. The only time we went to the Grand Canyon time simply did not permit us to go to the north rim plus we were traveling with a 3 year old. That doesn’t exactly encourage you to take multi-hour in the car side trips. Open-mouthed smile This time though it seemed like going around to the north rim would be worth the time even if getting there was more than a bit of back travel. Then again isn’t that what the best two wheel touring is all about, going off the main tourist routes?


Some of the roads were through burn areas though you could tell that prior to the fire this would have been a really pleasant ride along a ridge. One thing if you are contemplating a trip to the north rim, pay attention to your gas gauge since there aren’t a lot of stations. Those that are there may not be open all year round and tend to think very highly of their products. Prices were comparable to California, higher parts of California at that.

sw-1-28Until you arrive at the north rim the view looks pretty much like above just with trees in some sections and burnt skeletons in others. Until you see a turnout to a vista parking lot.


With sweeping smoky blue vistas.

sw-1-26Punctuated by layers of exposed rocks as sections jut up.


Some of the turnout had info on what you might be able to see below.

sw-1-31Then it was off to the lodge for lunch which is positioned to give you some great views if you sit in one of the log chairs or benches on the flagstone patio.


When my husband and I do finally get a chance to go together I’m thinking one of these cabins would be the place to stay.

sw-1-33The  rest of the day was pretty uneventful though I ended up riding through “the rez”, aka Navajo reservation in Arizona after dark. Which can be a bit nerve wracking due to the number of critters including black sheep that are known to wander onto the road.  A major accident closed down I-40 eastbound so I ended up back tracking a bit to spend the night in Winslow. Arizona. Where some of the hotels seems to have decided to jack up their prices as a result. Quality Inn wanted $279 for a single night’s stay. Fortunately the Motel 6 next door didn’t.

Next morning my departure was delayed because the key bent unlocking my side cases. Why Honda decided to make the side cases only use half the height of the ignition key I do not know. Lesson learned, have a couple of spares cut and carry at least one with your in your wallet. Locksmith ended up carefully straightening the key since he didn’t have a blank to cut a new key. I tried later in Roswell, NM to get a key cut but dealership wasn’t open and Home Depot didn’t have the right blank either. Not wanting to end up stuck if the straightened key snapped it was pretty much straight home with just one more overnight. Even then I had repacked so I didn’t have to open both side cases when I stopped for the night in Abilene, TX. Once I got back to Houston I took the spare key over to a locksmith who did have blanks in stock and got two more cut. I think I’ll be following the suggestion from Genesis in his Make a key for gas cap and saddle bags thread.

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Heading Home

Heading out this morning my first stop was at Cee Bailey to pick up the Honda CTX OEM saddlebag specific liners. The generic ones I had simply don’t work that well.  Tossed them in the top case still flat and headed towards the desert. Never have I been so thankful that California allows lane splitting and that is one of the reasons I chose the OEM side cases over the larger Shad cases. While I would appreciate the extra space an additional 8” give something like that would make the bike wider than I want to lane split with. Smile

Not only was there the usual California traffic but once out in Riverside/San Bernadino I hit all sorts of road work with one back-up over 20 miles long. Definitely rejoiced in being able to slip on by even a reduced speed beats dead stop in the baking sun. Anyway it gave me time to think about where I was heading next. Decision made I turned off toward Vegas. No, I wasn’t stopping in Vegas. I’m just not that fond of the town but I wanted to make tracks and the road from LA to Los Vegas is a good and once past the metro areas, a fast one.  Continued on without too many stops until I reached St. George where I stopped for the night to make an early start for Bryce Canyon.

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sw-1-20Even though it is early October since Bryce is at elevation I was already seeing Aspen turning color. I wasn’t the only one out on two wheels enjoying the lovely riding weather.sw-4

Fortunately the wildlife was staying off the road .  Didn’t even see that much traffic once I left Bryce and headed to Zion.

sw-1-22sw-1-24sw-1-23Then off into the sunset to call it a night.sw-25

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