Review: Finding Cannon Ball’s Trail by Don Emde

Apr 17, 2017 View Comments by

Finding Cannon Ball's Trail

Erwin G. “Cannon Ball” Baker was a “different breed of cat,” writes Don Emde in his book Finding Cannon Ball’s Trail. Baker was a legendary motorcycle and automotive enthusiast who spent most of his life shattering American coast-to-coast and other speed records. In 1914, he set a new transcontinental record on an Indian motorcycle, riding from San Diego to New York City in 11 and a half days. Emde, a publisher, is a former Daytona 200 winner and member of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame. When, in 2010, he heard about a cross-country group ride for pre-1916 motorcycles called the “Motorcycle Cannonball,” he got curious about Baker’s original journey. Where had Baker actually ridden, and could these roads be ridden today?

A year earlier, Emde had acquired an original 1914 sales booklet from the Indian Motocycle (no “r”) Company with Baker’s written account of his record-setting ride. He started studying it again, and after more than a year of research, “The Cannon Ball Project” began. With the help of friend and fellow journalist Joe Colombero, Emde embarked on a multi-year project to understand the riding conditions and map the route of Erwin “Cannon Ball” Baker.

Finding Cannon Ball’s Trail follows the journey of Emde and Colombero from San Diego to New York City, combined with maps, photography, and accounts of Baker’s original ride. The last section documents the 12-day Cannon Ball Centennial Ride Emde led in 2014. Telling the story of three epic motorcycle rides, the book is a testament to motorcyclists’ spirit of adventure.

Finding Cannon Ball’s Trail
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