before he finally finished the 3,900-mile trek. He can’t wait to do it again.
The Leawood man, who dubbed his 1928 Harley Davidson JD “Dark Horse,” wants to prove the antique bike can do better in the next endurance event in 2014.
Even though he suffered numerous engine problems, he still had a blast along the way.
He met riders from around the world and marveled at their amazing machines, all of which were built before 1930. And he did get to ride more than 2,000 miles across mountains and rivers, into national parks and across iconic bridges.
After buying his bike, the 60-year-old and his crew worked for months preparing it for the grueling ride. The bike ran great — until it locked up hours before the race, which started in Newburgh, N.Y., in September.
This couldn’t be happening!
Simpson and his team tore the engine apart, finding a problem related to “bushings and tolerances” that required a part they didn’t have.
“I don’t want to point any fingers at anybody because people were digging in and doing the very best that they could, but there were things that were missed,” Simpson said.
It took two days to fix.
“It was a bummer watching everybody else leave,” he said.
He was down but not out. Like a true road warrior, he caught the other riders in Sandusky, Ohio. That’s where Simpson’s Cannonball started.
“We had a fabulous day,” he said. “We took a high-speed ferry over Lake Michigan. When we got to Milwaukee (the home of Harley Davidson), we had six
police motorcycles give us an escort.”
There were big crowds, and a band played. He was even announced.
“Steve Simpson coming in on his 1928 Harley.”
He made it to the Continental Divide and saw Old Faithful at Yellowstone. But the bike just kept having problems. It ran hot, had electrical trouble,
leaked gas and had issues with the crank.
“The good news is (the bike) didn’t catch on fire, it didn’t blow up and I didn’t crash — all of which could have happened,” he said.
Despite being disqualified for missing too many stages, he did ride to the end, across the Golden Gate Bridge, where his two daughters were waiting for him.
“It was an incredible ride, and my team did an outstanding job,” he said.