A week ago Evans Brasfield and I scratched an item from our respective bucket lists when we finished an Iron Butt SaddleSore 1000. Satisfied with our accomplishment (which Evans will be documenting in a soon to be published memoir on MO), curiosity of other motorcycle endurance records had me searching the internet. What I found was a variety of increasingly peculiar endurance records comprising this week’s Top 10.
A few of these aren’t specifically 24-hour records, and a couple more don’t actually include motorcycles, but the accomplishments are no less amazing with courage and strength of character on full display. The first in the list should inspire all motorcyclists to what is possible, as well as what age is considered old.
UPDATE: One of these records has already fallen, just eight days after we published this story.
Neither Evans nor I are spring chickens, but we’re a couple of sprouts in the realm of endurance riding when compared to Ward Blanchard. In 2011 Mr. Blanchard rode his own SaddleSore 1000, completing the event in less than 24 hours at the age of 89. It’s one among many Iron Butt accomplishments for Ward, and, at the time, he held the Iron Butt Association’s record as the oldest guy ever to complete a SaddleSore 1,000. Granted, he did it aboard a Can-Am Roadster, which is kind of like cheating, but the guy was 89, so I think we can overlook that third wheel.
“Don’t let your age tell you what you can do,” said Ward, in an interview with The Grand Rapids Press, “just forget about your age and do it.”
Dipayan Choudhury, who is a member in the Indian Army Corps of Signals motorcycle display team, rode a motorcycle seated backward for 125.5 miles in 2014. We couldn’t source an image of Mr. Choudhury, so here’s a screenshot of Seth Rogan riding backwards with James Franco in a spoof of Kanye West’s Bound 2 music video. Sorry Dipayan.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, in 2013 British rider Paul Oughton piloted a Yamaha YZ250 around Rogershill Raceway for 24 hours, racking up 351.5 miles in the process. The mileage isn’t close to that of Bushy’s road course record (see #2), but Oughton basically rode 48 back-to-back motos, or two entire motocross seasons in 24 hours.
It seems as though this might be an easy record to break, but maybe it’s harder than it seems, and does it have to be aboard a… Honda Unicorn? In 2015 Ratnesh Pandey rode 20 miles standing on the seat of his Honda Unicorn without ever touching the handlebars.
This is one of two non-motorcycle entries, but, come on, this guy deserves props. He might be riding four wheels but he also doesn’t have much of an option. Chang-Hyun Choi rode 158.7 miles in 24 hours at an average rate of 6.6 mph around Jeju Province in South Korea. With the right modifications we’re sure he could safely up the speed and extend that record.
Choi holds another endurance record, this in 2015 for the Longest journey by mouth controlled motorised wheelchair, during which he covered 17,398 miles across 35 countries.
Following the tragic deaths of first his daughter and then his wife, Neal Peart, the legendary drummer for Rush, left town aboard a BMW R1100GS and didn’t return until a year and 55,000 miles had past. Anyone wondering about the full story and want to get into a man’s head and heart, Peart put his on display in his book Book: Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road.
To break up this sausage fest we’re throwing Bessie Stringfield into to the top 5, because she’s one of only a few women to ride a motorcycle so extensively in the 1930s, or in any decade for that matter. “The Motorcycle Queen of Miami,” as Springfield was known, is credited with being the first black woman to ride solo cross-country, completing eight solo trips in total, and serving as a U.S. Army motorcycle dispatch rider during WWII.
It’s impossible to have a list of motorcycle endurance records and not include Cannonball Baker, who in 1914 set a new transcontinental record of 11.5 days riding from New York to San Diego. That might not seem such a feat now, but keep in mind the brakes, power, suspension, seat and frame he had to contend with on 3,378 miles of mostly unpaved dirt roads.
Daytona 200 winner Don Emde recently retraced Baker’s route, riding across the country with modern technology in 2011 and again in 2014 with a group of 30 riders to mark the 100th anniversary of the original journey. Emde chronicled those trips, along with the research he put in for it, in his book, Finding Cannon Ball’s Trail.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the longest distance for a motorcycle pilot was attained in October 2014 by a South African named Matthew (Bushy) McKelvey at the Phakisa Freeway racetrack in Welkom. In a 24-hour period Bushy rounded the defunct MotoGP circuit 1,297 times for a total of 2023.5 miles. By the way, Bushy is a double-amputee from a hit-and-run accident in 1999 (notice his boot?).
UPDATE: Just over a week after we published this post, Carl Reese has broken McKelvey’s record, logging 2,119 miles in less than 24 hours on his BMW K1600GT.
This is a record yet to be set. It’s listed on the Guinness Book of World Records website with no attribution. Here’s what you have to do to become famous:
- This record is for the fastest time to finish a marathon distance course whilst wearing full motorcycle leathers
- Marathon distance is 42.195 km / 26 miles 385 yards.
- This is to be attempted by an individual.
- Measurement value: time – in hours, minutes and seconds to the nearest 100th of a second.
- For the purpose of this record motorcycle leathers are defined as either the full leather bodysuit or matching jacket and trousers made of leather that are to be worn when riding a motorcycle
Who’s up for the challenge? Oh wait, Evans ”Fireball” Brasfield is a runner. Evans, they’re looking for you!