“We did the whole thing on 4 spark plugs, 1 rear tire and some spokes,” Andy Divine reflects, when asked about how to sum up this motorcycle endurance run. There were other teams out there that had companies build their bikes and trailers full of backup parts.
“Being able to fix things without the exact parts we needed was a huge help,” he explains. Divine’s background in mechanics and rural get-things-done spirit were some of the most important things he took with him on this adventure.
“We were known as ‘the farmers’ by many of the other bikers.” That fix-it experience really came into play.
Aside from that, the top two things that made this a success for Divine were:
1. The right bike. “It’s the 4440 John Deer of motorcycles,” he quips. “We picked the right bike.”
2. Flying in help. “Charlie was a godsend. He was covered in grease 3 hours after he got off of the plane.” A fresh crew was important.
All of the support crew came in at the right time. “They each brought the right personality into the mix at the perfect time,” says Divine. “Each one of them were extremely helpful.”
Crew member Charles Taylor played an important role.
“This was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever been involved in,” says Taylor. “From the highest of highs to gut punching lows,” he explains. “Every day was a challenge. We were up before the sunrise and working until way past midnight.”
“Andy and I started doing stuff like this on a much smaller scale when we were kids and I guess we’re still at it,” he adds.
“One would have to experience this for themselves to ever know just how difficult it actually is, both mentally and physically,” says Taylor. “Covered in grease every night and having so much fun at the same time. Doesn’t make sense, but that’s what it was.”
“I don’t think I would ever take this challenge on myself, but I would certainly sign up to go on this adventure again with my friend Andy,” he adds.
Andy explains it as a backwards race in terms of accomplishment. “The full feeling of accomplishment came on the first day of putting miles on the bike,” he says. “Holy crap, I’m doing it,” really hit in that first stage. The last day was more just for show.”
Now that Divine is back home in Bonesteel and has had some time to think about his Cannonball experience, he’s not ready to say whether or not he’d take part again. “It’s a big commitment to do it. And to do it right,” he says.
After 27 days in the thick of it, he is still trying to end the race. “I wake up in the middle of the night dreaming about what needs to get done to the bike to ride the next day,” he still can’t kick that feeling. “I’m ready for that to go away,” he says.
“I tell you what though, the support and messages from home,” he says, “it was amazing. It really picked up spirits and improved moods, it was really an important aspect.”
If there were one more thing Andy would take along next time, it would be representation of his hometown of Bonesteel. “A banner or something for our support vehicle to show everyone where we are from,” he says.
“The support was amazing.”
Following is one last recap from Team Bonesteel crew member Jamie Divine:
Tuesday, September 21- Stage 11: After a rest day and a rain day, Divine was recharged and refocused as today’s stage took him from Birmingham, AL to Tunica, MS. With clear skies and sunshine, he was able to ride all 282 miles for this stage. Just a few minor adjustments to the carburetor were needed when he arrived in Tunica.
Wednesday, September 22- Stage 12: Today would mark an important milestone in Andy’s adventure. This stage would take him 243 miles to Arkadelphia, AR and would put him over the halfway mile mark where he could say he officially completed the Cannonball. The bike ran great and there was an amazing welcome into the city as the Mayor, Scott Byrd, participated in the 2018 Cannonball himself. Police escorts and a great following to greet the bikes made for a great end to the day’s ride.
Thursday, September 23- Stage 13: With just some minor adjustments to the linkage the night before, the bike was ready to take on another 259 miles to Nacogdoches, TX. Feeling like a broken record here, but with the bike running great, the miles are being knocked out rather easily! The bike is starting to show some wear and tear as the total miles ridden totals at 2,090 for the trip. Adjustments to the muffler and license plate were the only focus back at the pits.
Friday, September 24- Stage 14: With spirits high and the crew feeling very confident and relaxed, Divine’s early morning bike check before departure brought them back to reality of the trip. There he discovered 2 broken spokes on the rear tire. With no time to fix before today’s green flag start, Divine and crew crossed their fingers and hoped the 280 mile trip to Victoria, TX wouldn’t land Andy back on the sweeper truck. The crew saw him off for the day and were prepared to work vigorously in the pits that night. Amazingly, the bike held up for the day and made it safely to the destination. The crew had a total of 7 total broken spokes to fix. It was a long night, but support crew member Jeremy Jackson proved he could repair spokes with the best of them and got the 1917 Power Plus back up and ready to log some more miles.
Saturday, September 25- Stage 15: The end was in sight. 273 miles and the last long stretch of miles would be covered today ending in McAllen, TX. The bike made the miles with no problem, but 2 spokes broke en route to today’s destination and the bike was getting a little wobbly due to the swing arm pin being worn. This is what connects the rear suspension to the frame. Being at this point in the race, there was no real reason to fix the spokes with the few short miles to go and with a prayer that the good luck would continue Andy was prepared for his final day of riding.
Sunday, September26- Stage 16: With only 99 miles left until the Grand Finish in South Padre Island, Divine was fully confident that he would make his final goal of reaching the finish line, despite some wear and tear showing on the bike. Crossing the Port Isabel bridge and into South Padre he knew he made it! With the checkered flag in view, he crossed the finish line and turned off the bike one last time. What a ride!
Divine ended the run logging 2,901 miles out of a total 3,389 miles. He finished 51st out of 88 riders where only 33 riders had perfect scores (riding all miles with no penalties) and 30 riders did not finish. Congratulations to Andy on accomplishing a remarkable and successful Motorcycle Cannonball Endurance Run!