Devastation And Inspiration

Posted: December 31, 2013 in Uncategorized


My year was defined by two significant events that were inextricably connected.  While tragedy can shake one’s sense of normalcy, it can also provide inspiration and serve as a reminder of the importance of embracing every moment of life and chasing our dreams.  The Boston Marathon was nothing if not devastating and my 12,000 mile motorcycle trip, exploring the most extreme Four Corners of the United States, proved to be one of the most inspirational experiences of my life.

As a marathon running coach, the Boston Marathon is always the greatest and most inspirational day of the year.  It’s the biggest celebration with the people who I  admire and respect the most.  The Marathon Coalition runners are a shining example of the importance and significance of serving others.   I receive immeasurable inspiration from their commitment to providing hope and opportunity to people with neither….empowering others through running!

Here is what I wrote the day after the 2013 Boston Marathon:

Finding Hope

I hope everyone begins today with a strengthened resolve to live life to the fullest and with a marathoner’s determination to continue to chase your dreams. It will take considerable time to reconcile why this incredible tragedy occurred yesterday, but I’m confident we will continue to celebrate the amazing accomplishments of so many before and during yesterday’s Boston Marathon.

I am heartbroken that so many runners were deprived of the opportunity to experience crossing the finish line yesterday. Our focus, thoughts and prayers should be with the victims and their families and friends during this trying time. Much like life, yesterday didn’t go as planned for nearly everyone. But we will be defined by how we handle this unexpected and tragic occurrence. We need to not be paralyzed by fear of pursuing our goals. We need to show unwavering determination in paying tribute to all who have suffered and sacrificed so we can enjoy our freedom and live honorable lives.

I am going for a run to begin the healing process and to reflect on how I can be a better coach and father….and a more appreciative person. Despite yesterday’s tragedy, my heart is full this morning because of the knowledge that I am a smart part of a huge community of runners that have a relentless commitment to serving others. A group that provides hope, opportunity and life to others!

Thank you all for allowing me into your heart and your life!

I have had a love and passion for motorcycles from my earliest memories.  I dreamed of exploring the far corners of our amazing country before I could even ride a bicycle.  The tragedy of April 15, 2013 served as a reminder to not wait until the circumstances are perfect to chase my dreams.  I’ve experienced the premature loss of too many people I love to wait another moment to take on the biggest challenge of my life.  I felt the draw of the road to healing…figuratively and literally!

Staying on my motorcycle for over 20+ hours a day for most of two weeks and riding 12,000 miles was unimaginable.  Attempting to ride across the country, from Jacksonville, Florida to San Diego, California, in less than 50 hours seemed unattainable.  I stayed on my BMW R1150R for over 40 consecutive hours, riding through the day, riding through the night, riding through the day again and arriving just as the sun was setting in 40 hours and 35 minutes.   I battled extreme traffic, rain in practically every state, exhaustion like never before and the 124 degree heat through the desert where I thought my tires would explode.  The heat was so extreme the specially designed cooling vest that I wore and  soaked with water at each fuel stop, was completely dry after 5 minutes in the desert.  The most challenging part was battling hallucinations after riding for 33 consecutive hours.

I realized the first casualty of extreme fatigue is the ability to recognize how tired you are…pretty ironic.  When I arrived in San Diego and was able to finally eat, hydrate and sleep…I realized how dangerous that effort was and how fortunate I was to still be alive.

Here is an article written after I returned to New England:

Muhr Travels 12,000 Miles In ‘Journey Of A Lifetime’

Rick's Ride 026By Tony Boiardi, Grafton News Reporter

A Grafton man recently completed an amazing feat, circumnavigating the United States in just over two weeks on the back of his 2002 BMW R1150R motorcycle.

Richard “Rick” Muhr, a marathon training coach for the Boston Marathon, took it upon himself to test his physical and psychological limits in a 12,000-mile trip this past July.

“Testing my limits was definitely the primary reason for attempting this ride,” commented Muhr.  “I have always been drawn to the extreme in any arena I enter.”

And testing his limits is exactly what Muhr did.  Attempting a ride of such magnitude is an impressive feat in itself, but try riding 1500 miles in 23 hours as well.  Utilizing his physical aptitude from training runners for the Boston Marathon, Muhr logged over 1,000 miles almost every day.

Many endurance motorcyclists attempt this feat, but few accomplish it.  Muhr said he reached the 1500-mile mark in 23 hours in the first 40 hours of his trip.

“It took a lot out of me to push the limits right out of the gate in Jacksonville.”  He said, “I was in Texas when I surpassed the 1500 mile mark at 23 hours.”

Carrying nothing but a messenger bag over his shoulder, Muhr left behind all luxuries, including rain gear.  Of the 30 states Muhr passed through along his trip, he encountered rain in 21 of them.

Muhr, 55, says he has been riding motorcycles for 46 years, receiving his first motorcycle at the age of 9.  Always a lover of movement and exploration.  Muhr says motorcycling has allowed him to experience many new areas.

Muhr survived on Gatorade and energy bars for most of his ride.  Time was crucial at each fuel stop, so he would eat while refueling his bike.  Muhr lost 15 pounds during his excursion.

The trip included completing the coveted “Four Corners” Tour, where a rider drives to the four corners of the United States.  Starting in Madawaska, Maine, Muhr traveled south to Key West, Florida, west to San Ysidro, California, and then north to Blaine, Washington in just over 8 days.

Muhr rode 1100 miles from Grafton to Madawaska in 17 hours.  Afterwards he rode from Grafton to Key West in 34 hours, stopping briefly in Christiansburg, Virginia due to inclement weather.  During his trip, Muhr also was attempting to ride coast to coast in less than 50 hours.

“I rode from Jacksonville to San Diego, California in just over 40 hours.” said Muhr.  “I didn’t sleep for 46 consecutive hours and only stopped to refuel my motorcycle 12 times.”

He then rode non-stop from San Diego to Blaine, Washington in 26 hours straight,

His entire ride almost was for naught when his bag of receipts, cash, and credit cards almost fell off his bike.

“Receipts are everything when completing a ride of this magnitude,” explained Muhr, as they provide proof of the time, location, and mileage on the motorcycle.

“I’ve heard horror stories of riders leaving their receipts at a fuel stop,” he said.

While riding through Texas, Muhr felt something hit his left foot.  Reaching down, Muhr discovered that the bag containing the receipts had fallen out of his zippered pocket.

“My entire trip would not have counted because I didn’t have the required paperwork to provide the proof,” Muhr said.

“I continue to count my blessings for averting that disaster.”

Disaster almost struck for a second time while in Texas.  Muhr stopped at a closed gas station and went through his normal procedure.  After completing refueling, he hit the receipt button and the message “SEE CASHIER” lit up.

“My heart sank because I desperately need the receipt, it was 4:00 a.m. and the station didn’t open until 6:00,” Muhr explained.  “I moved to another pump and was able to add 10 cents of fuel.  Again I received the “SEE CASHIER” message.”

With time running out on his 24-hour deadline, Muhr rode to the next exit and refueled again.  The station was closed but he was able to convince the attendant to open the door.  He explained his mission to the attendant who said she was running the morning books and would not be done for an hour.

Muhr waited anxiously for one hour, fearing to sleep as he might not have woken up.  He eventually retrieved both receipts but lost two precious hours that would have allowed him to break the 40-hour mark.

According to Muhr, things became incredibly challenging once he hit the desert and temperatures began surpassing 124 degrees.

“I was at the 33 hour point and really had to dig deep to stay awake, tolerate the heat and make it to San Diego,” commented Muhr.  “I was in an extremely altered state and feel extremely fortunate to have weathered that storm.”

Shortly after arriving home, Muhr said to his wife, Lori LeClaire Muhr, that he would never attempt something similar, not even for a million dollars.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done…no exception,” he said.

Yet within two weeks of returning home, he began researching the 2014 Cannonball Run and the 2015 Iron Butt Rally.  The rides include traveling from Key West to Seattle, Washington on a pre-1930 motorcycle and riding 11.000 miles in 11 days, respectively.

Completing the “Four Corners” journey was a monumentally emotional experience for Muhr.

“When I took the final exit in Blaine…I was extremely emotional,” explained Muhr.  “I thought about all the people that I love who are no longer here.  They taught me to enjoy the small things in life and to chase my dreams.”

He says circumstances are never likely to be perfect, so people must accept that and just get on with chasing their dreams.  The whole experience left Muhr with feelings of pride, accomplishment and inspiration.

“When I am sitting in a nursing home later in life, I may not know my name but I will darn sure remember this ride.”

I am looking forward to sharing the 2014 Boston Marathon with the entire world…celebrating our freedom and embracing the spirit of a marathoner…showcasing the strength and power of the human spirit….Boston Strong!

I hope your New Year is filled with great health, adventure, and inspiration!

Boston Strong

  1. says:

    Inspiring post! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Melissa says:

    Rick – this is one of the most touching posts and a great way to end the year. Boston 2014!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s