I’m a pretty experienced roadtripper. I’ve driven over 15,000 miles … but that was in a car. Over the course of many, many weeks. Can you imagine making a cross-country motorcycle trip in just 24 hours? Well, that’s exactly what Ryan did.
Editor’s note: Don’t try this at home, kids. Like, really. Driving this long without sleep is incredibly dangerous.
Tell us a bit about yourself!
I grew up in Poughkeepsie, NY, though I’ve lived in four states and two countries. Right now, you’ll find me living just outside of Chicago.
I’m a 40-year-old husband and dad to two kids. Mostly I work … a lot. I’m currently VP of Engineering at a start-up in Chicago. When I’m not there I’m bringing home more animals to take care of – most recently this included half a dozen chicken and some ducks.
How long have you been riding motorcycles? What do you like about it?
Since I was 13. What doesn’t get you excited about riding? That question could only come from a someone who doesn’t ride motorcycles!
How did this trip come about?
There was a National Masonic Motorcycle Club event taking place in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. This event is in a different location around the US every year. Some friends of mine also had bikes and were up for an adventure. With nothing else on the calendar that weekend and permission from my wife, I thought “why not?”
Portsmouth is just over 1,000 miles away from Chicago. If you ride your bike 1,000 miles in 24 hours or less you earn the Iron Butt Patch and some good stories. To get the patch you need to document your mileage on each gas stop receipt.
What was your route?
We left Chicago at 3:30 am and headed east bound on I-80, traveling through Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, before finally landing in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. We got in at 3:20am the next day with 10 minutes to spare.
We made it in just under the 24-hour mark and having found Jesus somewhere along the way on Route 90 in central New York in the dark.
How did you prepare for it – physically, financially, psychologically, logistically?
The only preparations we made were logistics. We plotted our route, checked the weather a few days in advance (because rain will really slow you down). There really isn’t much you can do to prepare yourself for a ride like this – you just go out and do it. The two buddies who I rode out with had done long trips like this before. They didn’t really say much about preparations – except that we’d be making memories.
Tell us about your departure.
We left Chicago at 3:30 am on a Friday morning in September. It was dark, foggy, damp, and cool. All the things that make riding uncomfortable. Thankfully, it wasn’t raining – actually the trip out there was perfectly clear. The ride back, however, we weren’t so lucky.
Being the middle of the night, I was tired when we left, but not emotional – at least not yet.
Can you share some of the more memorable moments of the trip?
To be honest, when you are on a bike for 23 hours and 20 minutes straight there are no defining moments. Well, I did I break down emotionally at a rest stop in Massachusetts because I felt like I couldn’t ride a mile further. My two friends pulled me back from the edge to finish the 90 miles we had left.
1,000 miles in 24 hours is a looooot of driving. How did you manage sleep, bathroom and food stops, keeping a good pace?
There’s no time for sleep. You try not to shit yourself and sometimes you pee a little. It’s a good thing bikers don’t worry about aesthetics or smell! In fact, most of the others didn’t shower all weekend until we arrived back in Chicago three days later.
You time all your bathroom and food breaks with your gas breaks – which depending on the size of the gas tank on your bike, can vary from rider to rider. I’d also use some of the food breaks to quickly call and say hi to my wife and kids.
We mostly ate fast food, Slim Jims, nuts, and Clif bars. And of course, coffee.
Were there every any moments when you questioned your decision?
Yes, shortly after pulling out of gas station number one at 3:30am in the fog day one, minute one – it seemed like a really stupid idea. Also that breakdown I had in Massachusetts when I was ready to give up.
How did the people in your life react to your ride?
My family and friends either thought it was cool … or nuts. They’re both right. I posted updates on Instagram during our stops along the way so friends and family could follow along, and so my wife could make sure I wasn’t in a ditch. People would ask me why I was doing that, to which what else can you answer but “Why not?”
How did you feel when you pulled into your final destination?
I was delirious, sleep deprived, weepy, and not elated like you might think, and my ass hurt… a lot. It was 3:30 am so I went right to bed.
What’s something you learned from this that any of us could apply to our daily lives?
Suck it up. Sometimes the things you want hurt. You’ll get to the end.
Thanks for sharing your story, Ryan! Do you guys have any questions for him?
P.S. Other feats of perseverance: True Story: I’m an Ultra-marathoner and True Story: I Didn’t Buy Anything New For One Year