This was the first year that Tim Jackson, aka DJ Tiny, from Atlanta, Ga. participated in Scooter Cannonball — a biennial scooter race across the United States — and Jackson was thrilled to have made it across the finish line, which this year was located on Truesdale Street in Eureka, just outside of Shamus T. Bones.
“I’m so elated,” Jackson told the Outpost, as he stood beside his scooter parked at the edge of Humboldt Bay. “I feel so accomplished. Just riding the scooter brings so much joy.”
And finishing the race had been no easy feat. Starting in Bar Harbor, Maine, on July 12, participants had 10 days to complete the ride across the country to Eureka. Riders would start and end each day at a predetermined location, traveling along a common route, and were awarded points for hitting checkpoints along the way. On average, the participants rode 425 miles a day. To keep on schedule, Jackson said, he wouldn’t stop for meals and would usually only stop once to use the bathroom. Many of the participants would start their day about 5 a.m.
These diehard scooterists rode all the way across the country, sometimes through extreme weather and heat. Many riders dropped out of the race because of the difficulty, others because of injury or mechanical problems. Though Jackson made it across the finish line, even he was not riding the the scooter he started with. On day three he had an accident and his scooter suffered severe damage. So he bought a new one and just kept on going.
“[The hardest part] is probably the endurance — of the machine and of yourself — making sure you get enough rest and maintain your machine,” Jackson said.
Scooter Cannonball has been held every two years since 2004 (this year’s event was rescheduled from 2020, due to the pandemic) and has seen somewhere between 40 and 100 participants for each race. The route is completely different each year, starting and ending in a different coastal city. When riders hit checkpoints, they submit photos or GPS information to the event’s app. Information was regularly updated on the event’s website and viewers could track the riders’ location on an online map.
This year’s route was particularly difficult, event organizer Dave Bednarski told the Outpost. It had a couple of especially long days — the longest ride was 527 miles — and longer portions of unpaved road than many of the past races. Bednarski has been an organizer for the past two races and has been a participant since 2008. He said that a higher percentage of riders had to drop out this year than is usual. Of the 73 scooterists who showed up at the starting line, only about 35 were on track to make it to Eureka as of Wednesday afternoon. And of those, only about 25 were still scoring in the event, he said.
Bednarski said that a couple of the riders dropped out because of broken ribs and others because of damage to their scooters. A support truck travels behind the riders, picking up those who can’t go on and driving them to the next city. Whenever possible, the scooters are repaired at the stopping point each night so that riders can continue on the next day.
“That’s always the goal,” Bednarski said, “to get them back on the road.”
One of the big challenges of this year’s race had also been weather. The race started on the east coast at the tail end of Hurricane Elsa and participants rode through dust storms and thunderstorms. Riders came into Eureka on Wednesday from Fernley, Nev., and the race had to be rerouted because of the wildfires burning in eastern California.
Bednarski said that arriving in the sunny yet cool weather of Eureka was a treat. The riders were also warmly welcomed at the finish line with a party hosted by Shamus T. Bones, and a few local scooter enthusiasts also came out to greet the racers. One of the reasons Eureka was selected for this year’s end point is because it has a robust scooter community, Bednarski said, specifically mentioning the Slugrockets Scooter Club.
And the support that exists within the scooter community is part of what made Scooter Cannonball such a special experience. Although the event is highly competitive, both Bednarski and Jackson said, there is also a great deal of camaraderie and respect among the riders.
“I’m the only person of color competing this year and it didn’t matter — everyone treated me like family,” Jackson told the Outpost. “When you’re part of the scooter culture, you’re family.”
Scroll down for more photos at the Scooter Cannonball finish line.