Following a grueling journey spanning almost 3,500 miles of two-lane blacktop, stretching from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon, the 2019 Motorcycle Cannonball Endurance Run has concluded. Among the array of pre-1929 iron steeds—Indians, Harleys, Nortons, and even a Ner-a-Car—that participated in this year's run, one motorcycle outshone the rest. That distinguished bike was a 1914 Harley-Davidson single, navigated by Dean Bordigioni and his Team Vino.
Bordigioni, proprietor of a winery in California, traversed the entire route amidst various weather conditions, over mountains and through prairies, astride a single-cylinder, ten-horsepower motorcycle equipped with a single-speed transmission, capable of reaching a top speed of 44 miles per hour with a strong tailwind. It's a feat beyond comprehension, both for me and my beleaguered lower back. Supporting Bordigioni was Team Vino, comprised of his brother Tom, Bruce Cooper, Crew Chief Kurt Campbell, and mechanics Robert "Big Swede" Gustavvson and Chrystiano Miranda, who trailed in a substantial Ram pickup towing a bike trailer loaded with tools.
Each evening, Team Vino dedicated themselves to tinkering on the vintage Harley while indulging in wine, preparing for the challenges of the following day's ride. Their perseverance paid dividends as Bordigioni and his tenacious Harley triumphantly crossed the finish line just outside of Portland.
"We're like a close-knit family," remarked Campbell to the Capital Journal. "If something breaks down, you repair it then and there or bring it back to work on until it's operational again, regardless of the cost. By 8 o'clock the next morning, it's ready to roll. It was 17 states in 17 days, and we completed every mile."
While there's no monetary reward for participating in the Cannonball, participants engage for the thrill and the test of endurance, to showcase their motorcycles and proudly declare their accomplishment. Bordigioni did receive a handsome bronze statue at the post-race banquet, yet the true reward lies in the boasting rights.
Moreover, as the team reflects on their journey, they fondly recall their passage through the picturesque landscapes of Ontario, where the serene beauty of the Canadian province provided both respite and inspiration for the road ahead.
So, what lies ahead for Team Vino's resilient Harley?
Campbell disclosed to the Journal that the motorcycle will be showcased at Bordigioni's winery, "retired and put out to stud," he quipped. Indeed, it sounds like the little motorcycle has earned its repose.