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Cannonball Ride

Endurance Riding at its Best! The 2017 Cannonball Ride

We didn’t know what to expect when we signed up for our first official Cannonball Ride motorcycle endurance run that took place on June 10th, 2017.  There are multiple routes that take place all over Canada in 500, 1000, 2500 and the new 5000 mile lengths.  David Purdy started the Cannonball Ride run in June of 2015 with a single Ontario loop.

Over 1200 people showed up for the very first ride so he quickly realized that there is a popular demand for endurance riders.  By Spring of 2016, the rides have branched out Canada wide with 84 loops now available.  With both a Spring and Fall ride, riders can challenge themselves against mother nature, the open road and of course the clock.

We chose to do the single day 500 mile run consisting of multiple checkpoints that you must hit along the route collecting business cards at each stop.  With only 12 hours to complete, time is of the essence.  Riders can leave at any of the checkpoints at 9am in the morning and have to be back to their respective start location before 9pm that evening.  The name of the game is to keep rolling at a steady pace only stopping for fuel, a quick snack and a stretch.  This is a long day that requires riders to have stamina and finishing in the allotted time is no easy task.

My long time friend, Randy, who is no stranger to riding high mileage on a motorcycle joined me for what would be an epic adventure.  We met Friday evening at the Quality Suites  in Whitby Ontario which is only a few doors down from our starting point at Mackie Harley Davidson. This was the perfect location as Randy rode in from the London area and I made my way down from Kawartha Lakes.  Before shutting it down for the night we did a final once over on the bikes, programmed the GPS with all of our checkpoints and packed the saddle bags with food and drinks.

Quality Suites, Whitby

Awaking to sunny skies and warm weather which was absolutely ideal riding conditions for what was going to be a long day ahead.  After eating a solid breakfast at the hotel we loaded up the bikes and checked in at Mackie HD. As soon as the clock hit 9am we hit the closest gas station for a fill up and time stamped receipt. The route that we chose was the Central East loop which took us west along Highway 401 to the first 2 checkpoints.  We figured that getting the city riding portion of the loop done early in the morning to avoid traffic would be a good idea because the clock continues to tick and being stuck in traffic could make the difference of not making it back in time. From there it was highway 400 north to highway 9 west all the way out to the Exeter area and our first fuel stop.

At this time of the day we were on pace to be back around the 11 hour mark to our final destination.  With full tanks, a quick snack and an energy drink, we continued north for 2 back to back checkpoints and a destination of Owen Sound.

Gassing up

With Lake Huron’s shores to the west and our checkpoints completed we hammed down for a long northern stretch of our route.  Our next leg turned out to be a slow ride across Highway 26 east with the weekend traffic.  Cruising along side of Georgian Bay we had no choice but to sit back and relax as we were stuck behind long lines of vehicles.  Pulling into our Collingwood checkpoint we were still on pace but lost a bit of time on that section.  Topping off the tanks in Stayner, ON we ripped into Barrie, ON for another checkpoint before traveling up and around Lake Simcoe via Orillia, ON.  Heading south on Highway 12 we ran into a train crossing with faulty switch gates.  As vehicles slowly made their way around the gates we kept checking our watches for what would be a lengthy delay before we could continue on.

On the road

Now the time crunch was on for our Cannonball ride!  At this time of day if there were any more unexpected delays we would not make our final destination within the allotted 12 hour time period.  The throttles were twisted making our way east on Highway 48 to Highway 35 south for our last fuel stop in Fenelon Falls, ON which would allow us to make the rest of the journey.

Rolling into Bobcaygeon, ON for our second last checkpoint has us second guessing if we had enough time to complete the loop.  Next stop was in Peterborough, ON and the last of the checkpoints of the day.  We quickly grabbed our last business card, checked our watch and according to the GPS had approximately 70 kms to go with a little under an hour remaining to get back to Mackie HD.

All that remained was highway running as we made our way south on the 115 to hit the 401 west.  Traffic was minimal and we rolled into our original gas stop that morning for a fill up and final time stamped receipt.  500 meters down the road we pulled into Mackie HD with a total time of 11 hours and 39 minutes.  We completed the 847km Cannonball ride loop with a mere 21 minutes to spare.

Mackie Harley-Davidson

The both of us were definitely tired from the day’s events and looked forward to our first full meal since early that morning.  After dinner we headed back to the Quality Suites for a few well deserved beverages to discuss planning for the next endurance ride.  Bring on the 1000 and 2500 mile rides, we are officially hooked!

If you have a passion for motorcycling and really want to challenge yourself, don’t hesitate to try a Cannonball Ride.  Visit cannonballrides.ca. There is no cost to sign up and there are great prizes to be won.  Check their website frequently for new routes, upcoming rides and prize winners.  If these rides were easy, what would be the point?

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  1. Canada is such an amazing place to ride!
    Great scenery suitable for endurance riding. Thanks for the article.

  2. Wow, I hadn’t heard of the Cannonball. Well done. Last season, to push myself, I did a “Three Great Lakes in One Day Tour”. Took me 8 hours of very focused riding……absolutely loved it. Looking forward to next season and a Cannonball! Thanks for the article. Have fun. Jim, Stratford. 2002 Honda Shadow 750 Ace.

  3. I am a little confused. Are you referring to the coast-to-coast run on pre-1929 motorcycles or a different event by the same name? Endurance rides are all over the place these days, but the historic cannonball ride is one of a kind.

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