What Would You Attempt If You Knew You Couldn’t Fail?

Posted: July 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

That is an extremely easy question for me to answer…NOTHING!  The fear and possibility of failure is an important motivator in all that I do.  I have never been interested in anything that doesn’t require a significant effort with the odds stacked against me.  This recent 12,000 mile motorcycle journey was the epitome of everything that attracts me to an activity.

Completing a motorcycle endurance ride is similar to training for and running a marathon…it’s an experience wrought with challenge and accomplishment.  I have always been attracted to the extreme in any arena I have chosen to enter.

Circumnavigating the United States was the basis of seven additional endurance events, progressively more difficult as the mileage increased.  I was given 21 days to complete the Four Corners Tour which required documented stops in Madawaska, Maine/Key West, Florida/San Ysidro, California and Blaine, Washington.  I completed this epic journey in just 8 days.

In the middle of the Four Corners Tour I attempted a Coast to Coast effort from Jacksonville, Florida to San Diego, California in under 50 hours.  I rode my motorcycle (without sleep) for 40 consecutive hours to complete this portion of my ride.  This is an effort I will be forever proud to have accomplished because it tested me on so many levels.  Riding through the desert in 124 degree heat at the end of an exhausting ride took me deep into the well of exhaustion.

One story that makes me laugh hysterically now that I’m completely rested occurred in Key West.  I had ridden 23 hours and arrived in Key West at just after midnight.  I didn’t know if I was hallucinating or everyone was actually as strange as they seemed.  I was required to have my picture taken in front of the Key West post office with my motorcycle and towel with a unique number proving I was there.  I wanted to get in and out of Key West as soon as possible so I pulled up to a guy in a Jeep just pulling away and asked, “Would you like to make a quick $20.00?”  I knew that was a mistake as soon as I said it.  But in my state of exhaustion I quickly added, “All you have to do is take a picture of me.”  He continued to pull away and stated, “I don’t want any part of this.”  Thankfully, he gave me the time to explain my ride around the United States and that I was required to have a picture taken.  He readily agreed and refused my $20 in the end.

Another interesting experience happened after my Coast to Coast effort.  After  I arrived in San Diego I noticed a stretch limo racing up behind me at a high rate of speed.  I moved one lane to my left and the car followed.  So I moved one more lane (there are lots of lanes in California) and the car followed.  I noticed it slowed to match my speed.  Once it pulled beside me the windows came down…along with a LOT of other things…and a group of about 10 women showed me more than any man deserves to see…in a lifetime.  I assume they were just warming up for a bachelorette party.  Little did they know there was a happily married middle aged man behind the helmet…so exhausted the shock factor or whatever their intention was, was completely lost on me.

I met the most wonderful people throughout this trip.  In Portland, Oregon my GPS took me into someone’s gravel driveway tucked into the woods.  I had a wonderful conversation with a husband and wife who invited me to stay for dinner.  A woman in Virginia asked about my trip and was so surprised that I was doing this completely alone…she said…”Bless your heart!”  Something I learned was extremely common in the South.  Similar to, “Did you notice that Mary has gained nearly a hundred pounds…bless her heart ?”

I was only able to run once during this entire trip.  When I arrived in Portland, Oregon I ran with Kristen Wilson LaBarca (http://happyrunningmama.blogspot.com/2013/07/running-on-empty.html) whom I coached for Boston (3:30:30) and the Newport Marathon (3:25).  She took me on a 6 mile run on the Wildwood Trail in beautiful Forest Park.  It was great to connect with the earth again and spend time with someone as special as Kristen.

Another incredible highlight of the trip was being able to stay with John Killen and his wonderful family.  John is a passionate BMW rider and was kind enough to ride out and meet me along the Interstate late at night at the conclusion of a 1000+ mile ride from Billings, Montana.  I had the best meals, slept in the quietest room, and enjoyed their amazing company for nearly two days.  It was difficult to say goodbye but I was feeling the gravitational pull of New England.  John and Wendy took the following pictures during my stay.

Rick's Ride 026

Winona, Minnesota

Rick's Ride 014

Rick's Ride 032

I made it to St. Louis and spent a day at my office and reconnected with so many of my colleagues before riding directly home.  I rode for 23 straight hours (except for lunch with my father and step-mother in Ohio where I made it perfectly clear that I only had an hour…I’m such a special son) to make it home at 3:00 a.m.

Taking the final exit off the Mass Pike never felt better.  I was so relieved that I made it home safely and so darn proud of what I accomplished.  I never would have been able to accomplish this without the unwavering support and encouragement from Lori.  The many friends that I’m blessed with provided another degree of support and encouragement.  I also thought about two dear friends (Fulvio Abela and Kevin Dully) that we lost recently.  Their example inspired me to give this my best effort and, despite the odds, to never give up.

Yes, I made that final turn with tears in my eyes and a heart full of gratitude for the abundance in my life and the opportunity to continue to chase my dreams.

I hope that you’re chasing your dreams, too…even with the distinct possibility of failure!

  1. Andrew Dupee says:

    Congratulations brother!! Been thinking about you!! you’re a rock star man! Well done


    Sent from my iPhone

    • Andrew,

      Thank you for keeping me in mind. I’m so glad to be home. I know this journey is going to help me to be a more inspiring coach and a more considerate person. I’m looking forward to Boston 2014!


  2. Sanjay Desai says:

    Wow! Amazing !! Congrat!

  3. Rick Kaplar says:

    WOW!! Congratulations, Coach Rick. I was thinking about you just last night, thinking that I hadn’t heard from you in a while. What an accomplishment! You are such an inspiration to me. Well done!!!

  4. Mags says:

    Did you have to carefully schedule how and when you would eat before you departed, is it like a marathon that way? Same thing with fuel? Are there any miles on the routes with nothing to be found? Is this a once in a lifetime experience that shouldnt be replicated, or would you do it again in a heartbeat? These are only a few of my burning questions!

    • Maggie,

      Thank you for the great questions. This was an extremely intense ride as it required me to be on my BMW motorcycle constantly. Fuel stops were brief and organized. I refueled at the same time I was pumping gas into the bike. I lost 15 pounds because I was only off my bike at convenience stores. I relied mostly on Gatorade and energy bars. Occasionally (Key West, Florida), they offered fresh organic fruit and I took advantage of that.

      There were long stretches, particularly across Texas in the middle of the night and through the desert, where I went without eating for long hours…not a ideal situation when you’re also tired. Many would assume riding a motorcycle requires nothing more than sitting and twisting the throttle. This was the most physically, emotionally and demanding undertaking of my life. When I stopped for the evening, I made sure I properly refueled with whole foods.

      This is a once in a lifetime experience that shouldn’t be replicated. I would NEVER do it again. I mentioned to Lori that, even if I was offered a million dollars, I would never do this again. I am so proud of my accomplishment (no one has ever done this in the format I did) but it took so much out of me and placed me in harms way most of the time…from start to finish.


  5. Alison Hassinger says:

    Congrats Coach! You continue to be such an inspiration and role model to us all!


  6. Absolutely amazing!!! Coach Rick continues to be an inspiration!

  7. I am simply in awe of your accomplishment! The fact that you would NEVER do it again, even if offered a million dollars, says something about how hard it was. Knowing you, I am sure you pushed yourself not just to the edge but a little beyond it as well, just to make sure you were giving everything you had. Amazing.

    I am so happy that your trip took you through Portland and gave us the opportunity for our first real run together. And that I was able to share with you my little slice of heaven called Forest Park. Thank you for being such a wonderful friend, coach and mentor to me!!

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