This map shows the route the riders will take from Maine to California, with checkpoints along the way in Vermont, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada. PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVE BEDNARSKI

Cross-country scooter ride starts in Bar Harbor 

BAR HARBOR — About 100 scooter riders will embark on a test of rider and machine later this month when they roll out from Bar Harbor for the Scooter Cannonball Run, a 10-day 4,500-mile coast-to-coast scooter ride.  

The town pier will serve as the starting line for the cross-country epic, which has run every two years since 2004, with the exception of last year when it was postponed due to COVID-19.  

Riders will set out on their small scooters and ride for 10 to 12 hours a day, covering several hundred miles of small roads on the way to Eureka, Calif.  

Dave Bednarski joined the run in 2008 and has become the event’s organizer.  

The starting line trades off between the East and West coasts every year and organizers try to find attractive places that aren’t on major highways, hence the choice of Bar Harbor.  

“A lot of riders make a little vacation out of it,” Bednarski said. 

The entire course is planned more than a year ahead of time, largely along out-of-the-way roads.  

“Almost the entire trip is through small towns and away from the larger market cities,” he said.  

In all, more than 180 people from across the country have registered for the run, which isn’t really a race, but does get competitive. Bednarski doesn’t expect all 180 to show, but the event has grown since its early days.  

Its first run nearly 20 years ago had just 10 riders and came at a time when scooters had fallen out of prominence in the U.S. Not a lot of manufacturers were selling the two-wheeled vehicles until Vespa started building modern models again. Registration started to take off in 2006 and 2008 when scooters started to become more available.  

After Bar Harbor, riders will have a series of checkpoints to hit along the way to Eureka, with stops in Vermont, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada.  

The person who probably best knows the route is Mainer Charlie Weidman. Weidman runs a marine salvage business out of Rockland and the bulk of his work comes in the summer, making it hard to cut out time for a cross-country scooter trip in July.  

So he did it two months early. 

Weidman, one of the handful of Mainers in the run, departed from Bar Harbor on May 13 aboard his Yahama SMAX scooter. He loves the adventurous and endurance aspects of the Cannonball Run, but hopefully some of his fellow riders who are in the official event will be spared some of the things he experienced. 

“You push yourself beyond what you think you can do,” he said before deeply describing what exactly can happen to a rider’s derriere after sitting on a vinyl seat for 12 hours a day in the summer.  

But he didn’t have to deal with that on the trip. What he did contend with were several days of below-freezing temperatures, foot-deep snow in the mountains in Nevada with (not great for scooters!) loose gravel, and roads as slick as ice in Wyoming. 

Part of the appeal is getting off the beaten track. Bednarski said many riders are charmed by seeing these lesser-known parts of the country and it’s a great way to experience small-town America.  

“It’s a great opportunity,” he said.  

Despite teeth-chattering temperatures and multiple close calls, Weidman was on the same wavelength. 

“You wind up going on roads you’d literally never go on,” Weidman said. “There’s so many places and things I’ve seen that you would never in 10 lifetimes see because you are so far off the beaten path.” 

A “starting line party” that is open to the public will be held at the Atlantic Brewing Company’s Town Hill location on July 11, and the run will leave the town pier the following morning.  

Ethan Genter

Ethan Genter

Former reporter for the Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander, Ethan covered maritime news and the town of Bar Harbor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.