Baker, an American adventure riding pioneer, attempted over 143 cross-country motorcycle speed runs including the 3,378-mile ride from San Diego, Calif., to New York City on a two-speed Indian motorcycle. Baker’s adventures took place at a time before the country was criss-crossed with paved and well-maintained roads. The Indiana native was given the nickname “Cannonball” by a New York newspaper that compared him to the Illinois Central Railroad’s Cannonball train after completing the cross-country trip in 11.5 days, nine days faster than the previous coast-to-coast record. The Cannonball Run cross-country automobile race was later created in Baker’s honor.
Emde, the 1972 Daytona 200 winner and Editor-in-Chief of Parts Magazine, plans to retrace and document Baker’s cross-country route. Emde and a staff writer will ride KTM 990 Adventure bikes provided by KTM North America, following Baker’s route as closely as possible. Parts of Baker’s route may no longer exist, so Emde and his writer will have to take some modern roads when necessary.
Though Baker completed his historic run in less than 12 days, Emde’s project will span a couple of years as he stops during segments of the original trip to research the route and the local area. Emde also plans to recreate some of the riding situations Baker encountered using a period Indian motorcycle provided by the Fred Fox Collection.