Tag Archives: motorcycle

Erwin “Cannon Ball” Baker

Who’s Erwin “Cannon Ball” Baker? After this blog post you’ll be asking the greater question. Why have I never heard of him? If you’re ahead of the game and know all about Baker, then you’re either really into history, Indiana, or motorcycles.

I got my first taste of Baker from an IndyStar article published a couple weeks ago. I was blown away my this man, and even more so that he slipped under my radar for so long. Here are some facts I found interesting about Baker.

  • He lived in Garfield Park just a stone’s throw away from where I used to live when I first got married, and since moving, now only about a mile and a half away.
  • He won the first motorized race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1909, which was a 10-mile motorcycle race. Side note: the first race ever at the IMS was a balloon race.
  • He also raced in the Indianapolis 500 in 1922 and finished 11th.
  • He made more than 143 attempts at a variety of timed, long-distance records. One of his most noteworthy transcontinental rides was in 1914 when he rode from San Diego to New York City in 11 days, 12 hours, and 10 minutes.
  • He rode and drove roughly 5.5 million miles from 1908 to 1933.
  • He is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.

These are just a few facts that sparked my attention. It just so happens that we are in the midst of the 103rd anniversary of his record-setting 1914 ride. He began on May 3, 1914 (today is May 4) and finished May 14, 1914.

I found a website that has Baker’s journal notes from his 1914 trip. It was such a wondrous story, I had to write a song about it. I just finished it today, so I thought I would  share the lyrics with you. I typically don’t like to share the lyrics right after finishing a song, but it seemed fitting.

Verse 1:
Headed East from San Diego
to the City of New York.
For a record-setting ride,
I filled my canteen to the cork.
The sand pushed me to the limit
as I pushed my two-speed horse.
With only a few paved miles laid out,
I would have to set the course.

Verse 2:
Spent the morning in the desert
at triple-digit degrees.
By the time I called it quits,
I rode a mile above the sea.
I worked my way toward the valley
full of bleached-white cattle bones.
Would this machine keep me alive,
or would it become my tombstone?

Verse 3:
Took all day to cross the river
that was swollen on all sides.
I looked for a shallow answer,
but learned the depth of my pride.
I had thousands of miles ahead
with no easy route in sight.
I worried about tomorrow
before I made it to tonight.

Verse 4:
Tried to not let the storm catch me,
so I mounted my machine.
With no time to stop for breakfast,
the thought of mud was my caffeine.
I rode atop the railroad ties
to escape the tough terrain.
“Clear the road: I am a-coming”
was the native-spread refrain.

Verse 5:
Made up my mind I would not stop
till I touched the city streets.
As my journey came to a close,
it all felt so bittersweet.
I came in strong though late at night
upon my seven-horse steed.
Little did I know that I’d be called
the pioneer of speed.

 

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Janus Motorcycles

If you follow me on Instagram, you might have noticed the motorcycle sketches sprinkled in the past few months amongst the overwhelming amount of dog photos, but what can I say my dog is a great source of entertainment. Roughly the past seven months, motorcycles have also been a great source of entertainment. The crazy thing is that I don’t even know how to ride one yet. Side note, I hope to take a riding course in the next few months. Regardless, there are other aspects that draw me to motorcycles. Let me romanticize a bit for you.

The rider gets to conduct this beautiful, mechanical orchestra that’s happening on two wheels. He must maintain the many moving pieces. He’s the maestro of the machine: signaling the clutch to accent specific beats, and giving the shifter it’s cue whether to play on the upstroke or downstroke. He takes note when the throttle needs to crescendo, and when it needs an eighth note-rest.
The maestro is not exempt from taking cues of his own though. He is also one of the musicians in a jazz trio. With a song’s terrain able to be altered in an instant, he must adapt to remain upright and in sync. Only the most proficient musicians can create the illusion of making improvisation appear to be notated.

That is the imagery and beauty of Janus Motorcycles. Devin Biek and Richard Worsham are the co-founders of JM. They are located in Goshen, Indiana. The majority of their bike components are made within a 20 mile radius of their shop.
Being a life-long Hoosier, I’m very proud of local craftsmen in Indiana (I’ll mention some others in a moment). I boldly proclaim they are based in Indiana, and tend to live vicariously through them.
In order for local businesses to succeed, they need our support. By supporting them, we allow them to stay in business, continue creating their product, and they can keep representing us. With pride we will let them.

Janus walks to the beat of their own drum. They aren’t trying to be the whole band, but simply care about playing their instrument to perfection. They have written two songs for us so far. Those songs being Halcyon and Phoenix. You can be the maestro of these songs, and conduct the orchestra in your own interpretation by visiting the shop on their website.
If you’ve never sang a note in your life, but had a distant admiration to try, I would suggest starting here. These are simple yet well-written tunes for all to sing.

Here are a few other small Indiana businesses and craftsmen: guitars, swords, soft goods, leather goods, tobacco pipes, and apparel.

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