Second Chances

Posted: May 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

In addition to my passion for running and coaching, I have enjoyed a lifelong passion for motorcycles. As a young boy, I wore out the pages of the Sears catalog dreaming about my first motorcycle. I received my first mini- bike when I was 9 years old, during my summer vacation with my mom in Illinois. I lived with my dad during the school year and only saw mom during the summer.

I would ride up and down the frontage road along Interstate 80 (just outside of Chicago) dreaming of exploring far away places; like a modern day cowboy. My interest in all aspects of motorcycling continues to strengthen and expand. A milestone in my motorcycling enjoyment and exploration occurred several years ago when I attempted a Saddle Sore ride (1,000 miles in 24 hours) sponsored by the Iron Butt Association. This is an organization that you have to ‘earn’ your membership into. Prior to this ride I would never ride more than 100 miles and never in the rain or dark. During my 17 hour ride where I covered 1146 miles, I rode in all those conditions quite extensively. My mindset and confidence changed considerably after this ride.

My next journey was a 10 day ride through 13 states and 5,000 miles. It rained all 10 days but it didn’t dampen my spirit or enthusiasm for motorcycle exploration. I remember riding the Blue Ridge Parkway from Asheville, NC to Roanoke, VA in a torrential downpour through nearly 300 miles of challenging mountains. I never saw another motorcycle on the road the entire distance. I certainly conquered the distance and the conditions during that ride and my confidence and desire to further explore distant destinations increased.

Most recently, I have been planning a ride on a more significant scale. I leave July 9th for a 13,000+ mile journey to the four corners of the United States. This ride is sponsored by the Southern California Motorcycle Association ( I will be riding solo this entire ride and will only be carrying a messenger bag. I leave from Madawaska, Maine and ride to Key West, Florida. I will then attempt a 50CC (riding coast to coast in less than 50 hours) from Jacksonville, Florida to San Diego, California. From San Diego I will ride to Blaine, Washington. I plan to complete this ride is 8 days. The 50CC ride is sponsored by the Iron Butt Association ( I am required to document every aspect of both rides. I’ll have police officers in the aforementioned cities sign off on my arrival and departure, take pictures with a special towel displayed (given to me at the beginning of the journey) at landmarks in each city, and record all my movements with gas receipts and a two-way satellite communicator. I will be providing a website so anyone interested can track my progress.

After concluding the Four Corners Tour and the 50CC, I will be attending a rally in Portland, Oregon for BMW motorcycle owners from around the world. I expect to earn the coveted Long Distance Rider Award at the conclusion of the rally. I will also be visiting and running with Kristen LaBarca ( who I have had the honor and privilege of coaching. Kristen recently ran Boston in 3:30 and is running the Newport Marathon in Oregon this Saturday. As a marathoner, there’s no greater accomplishment than validating a Boston Marathon Qualifying Time by qualifying again on the Boston Marathon course. I’m so proud of Kristen!

I plan to ride back to New England in a more leisurely pace of 5 days.

Much like a marathon, preparing for a ride of this magnitude requires extensive planning, dedication and training. On Memorial Day I completed a 300 mile ride as part of that preparation. Just 2 miles from home a young driver pulled out in front of me and abruptly stopped. To avoid running into the back of him I had to swerve to his left. Just as I moved my motorcycle around the rear of the car, he immediately turned left back into the parking lot he just exited. My life flashed before me and a collision was inevitable…a little unsettling. I did everything possible to minimize the impact but my BMW collided with the left side of his car…it wasn’t pretty. He took away every possible option I had to avoid this accident.

This was my first accident in 40 years. However, I’ve avoided countless accidents, mostly inattentive drivers texting. After gathering myself, I called 911 and immediately heard the Grafton Police responding with their sirens blaring. I also had the presence of mind to call Lori and let her know that I had been involved in an accident and to reassure her that I was unharmed…adrenaline was coursing through my body. The young driver was cited for failure to yield and I nursed my formerly immaculate motorcycle home…albeit a bit shaken.

The following morning I work up and felt like a little league baseball team had taken batting practice on my upper body. My wrists and hands took the brunt of the force but my Schuberth helmet hit the side of his car and did it’s job perfectly. I wear the best protective gear made…all the time.

After a battery of texts and x-rays at UMass I was given a clean bill of health…and a second chance!

  1. Kate Marcum says:

    Glad you are okay Rick.

  2. Kate,

    Thank you so much for your concern. I’m extremely fortunate avoided serious injury.


  3. Samantha Shirley says:

    Rick, it’s so interesting to read about another passion in your life. And your writing style is beautiful in itself! I’m so thankful you are ok and your spirit not dampened. Good luck on your big adventure!

    • Sam,

      It was so nice to hear from you. Thank you for your concern and kind comments. I’m really excited to embark on this incredible journey in July.

      Congratulations on your recent marathon finish…I know that’s not an easy marathon so I have stayed clear of it. You obviously have a greater sense of adventure than I 🙂


  4. Laura says:

    Wow!! So sorry Rick. You will be fully healed by July 8th…Good luck on you ride !!

  5. Rick Kaplar says:

    Good luck, Coach Rick. I’m glad you’re getting a second chance!

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