Everyone has their version of what a “long” day was. When I first started riding, 100 miles was a long day. As I got more tuned into what made me more comfortable and I got stronger the mileage went up. Currently more than 500 miles is a “long” day for me. I’ve done it twice: Boulder, CO to Salina, KS and San Diego, CA to San Jose, CA. I was a few miles shy of the 500 mark on a Tahoe lunch run.
What followed is not something I expected. Three people spoke: Christina Shook, Melissa Pierson, and John Ryan. Each have their own take on the story of motorcycling and thus each had a very unique perspective on the sport we all share.
She, a photographer, paired up with Tamela Rich, the author and the two of them chronicled a rather interesting story. Some older ladies banded together and decided to do a long-distance motorcycle ride to raise awareness around women’s cancer. As word got out more and more people started to join the movement. Her book chronicles these ladies along their journey. It’s titled: Living Full Throttle.
Melissa Pierson wrote a book called the man who would stop at nothing. Her book chronicles the story of John Ryan. She told the story of compiling book and putting everything together. The real treat, was hearing John himself speak.
His story is nothing but amazing. There’s a small section of motorcycle riding called iron butters. These are the people who put on tons of miles on the bike in a very short amount of time. To qualify to be an iron butter, you have to ride 1000 miles in 24 hours. There are other levels as well. The next step up is 1500 miles in 24 hours. There re other types of journeys like Canada to Mexico in 36 hours, across the country east to west in 50 hours, or both directions in 100 hours.
A good friend of mine did the New York to San Francisco ride in under 50 hours (2900 miles). 46 hours to be exact. When he arrived in San Francisco he looked like death warmed over. You could tell it was a long, hard ride with little room for error. Mike was a seasoned rider. He had been doing long-distance rallies for a while and knew that journey well. However, you can see that the cross country ride took a lot out of him.
John Ryan road from Deadhorse, Alaska to Key West Florida and 87 hours. Let me say that again John Ryan broke from Deadhorse, Alaska to Key West Florida and 87 hours. The iron but association would certify that ride if you do it in 30 days. John did it in less than four.
Five first 500 miles of that ride is a dirt road. Getting to the US border, you’re only halfway there. This is an insane amount of miles in such a short amount of time. As one can imagine, John is a very interesting individual. He has very nonstandard sleep patterns and loves to put on the miles on his bike. He retired his SJR at over 160,000 miles. After all list eight years my bike only has half that mileage: 80,000 miles.
What it did find interesting is well is that John is a type I diabetic. He didn’t talk too much about nutrition but a big part of this practice is predictability. You have to eat well and control your brother blood sugar well to do what he does at all. I didn’t see an insulin pump on him, but I wasn’t able to ask if he had one. My hunch is that you guys mainly because it’s much more time efficient than injections. When you’re competing at that level every minute really does count.
While this is a segment in motorcycling I don’t really connect with, just hearing history was truly amazing. When you find someone who does something at such a level you can’t help but not be inspired. A few years from now I’ll probably still think 500 miles is a long day but nonetheless I’m glad I went.