By on January 28, 2016

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It was a pain in the ass — literally. “I spent two years training my ass,” Carl Reese tells me via phone, shortly after his announcement of YACCR (Yet Another Cross Country Record). “I was serious about my fitness. I even sat on my seat (a Sargent aftermarket replacement, with backrest) while I was on my computer doing my job. But by the time I got into Pennsylvania, I was in so much pain that it was affecting everything else. I was hitting the kill switch on the bike instead of the turn signal because my senses were overwhelmed. I was glad to see that New York skyline.”

As a devoted, even bigoted, owner and rider of Honda motorcycles, I was tempted to make a comment about BMW riders and their proclivity for “training their asses.” Instead, I let Carl Reese, already familiar to TTAC readers from the Tesla cross-country electric-vehicle record with Alex Roy late last year, keep talking about how, and why, he rode his BMW K1600GT across the country in a shade over thirty-eight hours, ass pain and all.

As long-time TTAC readers will know, I’ve always been spectacularly indifferent to the idea of cross-country records, even though I count Alex Roy, the self-described “Doctor Evil of cross-country racing,” as a personal friend. With that said, I have genuine distaste for people who claim to have set a record without adequate proof, no matter how fast n’ loud they might be. Much of my conversation with Reese, therefore, centers around his data.

Thankfully, Carl has gone to considerable lengths to document his attempt. He hired a GPS company to track him, as Ed Bolian did during his infamous used-Mercedes “bedpan run” a few years back. Knowing how easily that GPS data can be faked, however, Reese arranged for over a dozen witnesses for this attempt, including unaffiliated notaries at both ends to attest to time, the VIN of the motorcycle and the odometer readings. He arranged for drug tests before and after the run to prove that he was free of everything from caffeine to crystal meth. And he acquired additional evidence in the form of a traffic ticket and an unscheduled stop at a Harley-Davidson dealer to replace a “shredded” Metzeler rear tire.

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In fact, one of the more interesting things about Reese’s attempts was the sheer number of things gone wrong, from the aforementioned tire problem (“Next time,” he states, “I’ll use Michelins.”) to the ticket to a wasted hour in Salina, Kansas, trying to get his array of electronic devices to reboot after a 90-minute nap.

That ninety-minute nap, Reese states, is the most important part of the record. Although other people have claimed cross-country motorcycle records in the past, including a fellow named “Axe” who wrote an entire book praising himself for such a feat despite not having a shred of evidence to show anyone, the riders who have seriously attempted it have usually suffered serious sleep-related issues. “They close their eyes for a minute on a park bench,” Reese notes, “and wake up six hours later.”

Most of these other would-be record-holders have also chosen conventional sportbikes for their attempts. Reese, on the other hand, bought the BMW K1600GT — a bike I rode up the Monterey coast last year and liked so much I argued that BMW should use its engine in a car. It’s a viciously powerful take on the sport-tourer that has recorded quarter-mile times as low as 10.8 @ 122 mph in magazine testing. That’s Aventador territory.

With that said, the lurid top speeds that are usually a part of any cross-country test didn’t figure into Reese’s attempt. When pressed for a maximum velocity, he at first demurs, stating that he doesn’t want to talk himself into a jail cell before all the statutes of limitations are expired, but eventually gives me a number that, while still high enough to be considered “reckless operation,” isn’t anything like the numbers I’ve seen on my own sportbikes during morning commutes.

The small community of cross-country record fanatics, which congregates at a website (transcondrivers.org) run by Reese and Ed Bolian’s supposed co-driver, Dave Black, is reluctant to go on the record about Reese’s latest, um, record. One fellow called it “a pretty astounding physical feat” while another told me it was “more creepy stuff from a really creepy guy.” When pressed on the idea that he and Black are attempting to make money “certifying” cross-country runs, an allegation I heard from another driver, Reese replies that any such plan has been long since abandoned and that he never had any involvement with it beyond the discussion stage.

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In the end, it’s hard to not be charmed by the passion that Carl and his fiancee, Deena Mastracci, have for the whole idea of cross-country records. Whatever outlaw appeal surrounded the original feats in the Brock Yates days has long since given way to the kind of patient dedication exhibited by hobbyists in activities as diverse as long-distance running and Civil War re-enactment, but perhaps that’s for the best. In the meantime, the record is out there for anyone to take a shot at bettering, but be warned: your ass will need to train for it.

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67 Comments on “Los Angeles to NYC in 38 Hours, On A Six-Cylinder Beemer...”


  • avatar

    If I were going to drive cross country, the Model S would be my choice. Autopilot on the long, straight roads when I don’t feel like steering. Charging when we stop- not paying for gas.

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    He needs to work on his throttle management. He should not have needed a new tire.

    Good time, though. I’ve done my own time to distance runs on the southern route (SDO->JAX), a couple hundred miles shorter and less traffic, on similar Honda sport tourers. My best time is 40 hours 50 minutes, verified by witnesses on either end and time/datestamped fuel receipts. I wasn’t in any big hurry, though, and took a couple of naps. High speeds result in fatigue and premature tire wear, as seen above. Pretty much flow of traffic +10, with very minimal stops. Fuel cell, bespoke saddle, and rally lighting help a lot. I didn’t even put my feet down in New Mexico.

  • avatar
    strafer

    Hate to be that guy, but must point out that the correct term is “Bimmer” for 2 wheeled BMWs.

  • avatar
    Firestorm 500

    Don’t mean to spoil the party, but I feel that people who attempt stunts like this are a danger to themselves and everyone else on the road.

    Utter lack of concern for the people on the roads with them.

    If they want to see how long they can stay in the saddle, they need to go out in the desert away from everyone else.

    Worst they could do is take out a cactus instead of a van load of kids.

    • 0 avatar
      Dingleberrypiez_Returns

      You’re not alone.

    • 0 avatar
      John

      Agree. I’ve done long distance trips on a bike. When you’re so disoriented you’re hitting the kill switch instead of the turn signal, it’s past time to give it a rest.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Especially only on two wheels. Though old Ducati ST4 would do [email protected] mph, I never rode it more than a few hours.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        I was in Montana in 1998 after the federal 55 got repealed and they went back to “reasonable and prudent”. I got tired of frequent rain and hail storms and hit the freeway and pointed my YZF1000 North. All I could manage at 200 kph speeds was an hour or less before the “low fuel” warning light came on.
        Driving fatigued or tired is never good. I almost fell asleep once while driving home way back in the ’80’s. Scared the sh!t out of me. I’ve never driven tired since then.

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      But bro points. Bros want to be Internet legend. Surely that’s more important than an innocent family killed or your own family picking up your body parts because you were too tired on the road and had caffeine for blood running through your brain, all for bro points.

      This sort of stunt is cool, but it needs to be sanctioned with the proper legal preparation and road closure. Let the bros have at it and pay for it all.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        Try reading your post out loud, substituting another racial slur for “bro”, and see how acceptable you think it is.

        I’m not the PC police but “bro” is shorthand for “white man” and it’s just as offensive as any other “dog whistle” code word.

        • 0 avatar
          Chan

          I’m sorry, I don’t follow.

          Throughout college (I’m in California) I’ve heard “Bro” hurled around between literally every single ethnic group. White, Black, East Asian (me), South Asian, Middle Eastern, Hispanic……

          I was not aware, and still am not aware, that it has any racial connotation. But if I am wrong, please educate me.

          • 0 avatar
            ldl20

            +1

            Disagree with Jack, here. When I hear “bro,” I think about the guys from Jersey Shore. Is that racist?

          • 0 avatar
            Jack Baruth

            Yes, it is.

            Replace “Jersey Shore” with “a Tyler Perry film” and see if it’s racist.

            Again, I’m not big into political correctness. But if we’re going to live by that sword, let’s swing it evenly.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            Well I’m white, so by the accepted rules of other racially-charged phrases I can use it as much as I want to.

        • 0 avatar
          Syke

          I guess I’m old, but to my experience “bro” means you better have a three piece patch with “M/C” somewhere on it on your cut. Extra points if there’s a “1%er” diamond on the front. Use of the term in any other situation is flat out unacceptable.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      Absolutely agreed. And doing it on a bike doesn’t make it better just because you’re hauling less mass to hit people with; you go blowing by some dude and he may panic and stuff his car into a pole without you ever knowing you caused an accident.

      Baruth earns my respect for much of his writing, but his consistent fawning over Alex Roy (and professing occasional reserve doesn’t cut it; writing about Roy in any way gives him everything he wants) really tests my respect for his judgment.

    • 0 avatar
      Coopdeville

      Another +1 from me, but not about the danger. More like a “who would want to” unless it was only for bragging rights.

      I took 30 days to crisscross the country on 2 wheels and I’m glad I did it that way. Got to enjoy the sights and meet the people and generally I remember all of it because I wasn’t so slammed that it was just a blur.

      • 0 avatar
        Syke

        OK, I’ll admit that I admire the guy’s fortitude. Mainly because the closest I’ve ever come is “non-stop” (aka, refuel every 150 miles but back on the bike immediately) runs between Richmond, VA and St. Augustine, FL on a Triumph Trident. Basically trying to get to Daytona Bike Week running only in daylight. And doing it year in, year out over a decade.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Given the sheer amount of preparation these guys put into their attempts, as well as the aspie dedication to the craft required to even bother, I’d be surprised if they’d rank in the top 10%, much less top 1%, of drivers as far as driving career long danger to others is concerned.

      The Iron Butt has had a few getoffs, but nothing untowards wrt miles traveled. IOW, chances are there are millions of other drivers “more likely” to kill your family than these guys.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    “Don’t mean to spoil the party, but I feel that people who attempt stunts like this are a danger to themselves and everyone else on the road.”

    This.

    for years, I owned a Yamaha FJ1200, a favorite of the Iron Butt crowd. I participated in an online FJ1200 forum. One of our group was father of two who was an Iron Butt guy. He fell asleep in the saddle and crashed. He spent months in a coma before he passed away. Reading the posts from his wife was heart-wrenching. A number of us helped out, but it barely made a dent in the mess created by his obsession.

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      Yeah, pretty much this.

      Not sure how much a man-child’s “passion” and “ambition” matter when he destroys an innocent family in another car. Even if he just outs himself, he leaves a mess for his wife and children to pick up, scarred and regretful for the remaining decades of their lives.

      A sanctioned Cannonball Run event would be the solution. Liability release, closed roads.

      • 0 avatar
        USAFMech

        Chan, are you a big Alan Alda fan? Mark Ruffalo?

        Not to make it too personal, but that’s too much beta for one post. Using “man-child” and putting scare-quotes around “passion” and “ambition” reveals a lot about your thinking. Maturity is not defined as leading a milquetoast life.

        Full Disclosure: I’ll probably die on a motorcycle doing what I love (cursing people with poor situational awareness and/or lane discipline). I pay for a lot of extra health/life/disability insurance.

        • 0 avatar
          Chan

          I’m afraid I am not familiar with either.

          Lest I be misunderstood by a stranger on the Internet, I am a big fan of passion and ambition when it doesn’t place your family and your community in harm’s way. Responsible riders like yourself understand the risks and ride accordingly to contribute to road safety.

          In fact, I would even be a big fan of a sanctioned cross-country time trial contest. With the proper safety equipment, support staff and legal framework.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      To quote an iconic tough guy:

      “A man’s gotta know his limitations.”

  • avatar
    probert

    Don’t know why you need such a massive bike. You could probably do just as well on a 500cc – with proper gearing your at 90mph all day everyday.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      It depends. Larger bikes tend to have more leg and seat room which makes a big difference on longer rides. On my FJ1200, I could manage, comfortably, about 350-400 miles per day. On my current bike (650 Ninja), I’m lucky to be able to do 200 miles before it gets to be unbearable. The wind protection of larger touring bikes is also a big factor. Helmet buffeting can wear you out pretty quickly.

    • 0 avatar
      rocketrodeo

      It’s about the comfort. A 500cc engine is rarely found in a bike with both relaxed ergonomics and good wind management. Plenty of bikes in the 800-1200cc range that are good for this kind of thng.

      • 0 avatar
        Firestorm 500

        It’s not necessarily the bike at issue here. It’s the rider. No one is good for this kind of thing.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @bunkie, rocketrodeo – agreed. Large displacement bikes tend to be more comfortable and spacious. Litre class sport bikes being the exception. A 500cc bike would be underpowered at 90 mph even if geared for it. It would suck too at lower speeds since it would have to lug and one would have to abuse the clutch if one had to stop then start.
        I used to drag race a YZ490 motocrosser. I geared it as tall as it would go and all I could hit was 103 mph at 13.34 seconds. You had to be hard on the clutch. My 150 lb buddy who was an expert mx racer way laying down 11.8 times at 118 mph.

        It was fun. I terrorized all of the street legal Harley guys and he gave fits to all of the sport bike guys. The real good litre bike guys were pissing off the pro Harley guys on drag bikes.

        After 3 years of that, the Harley sponsor changed the rules to make it an “All Harley” event.

        Too bad. It was a blast.

      • 0 avatar
        strafer

        Honda Silverwing was the lone exception, before they increased it to 650cc.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      Riding a smaller bike across country takes the personality of the fella (Chuck Courtney, I googled) from Gumball Rally :-)

  • avatar
    Feds

    So what you’re saying is that he could have saved a bunch of time if he had ridden dark side.

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    Having done some long-distance motorcycle endurance rallying, I will say this: 1) Coast to coast solo runs in under two days are not at all uncommon; hundreds if not thousands of people have done it. 2) High speeds are not required. Time and personal management skills absolutely are. 3) For those who say it’s unsafe, please refrain from projecting your abilities, or perception of your abilities, onto others who might be better mentally and physically capable of such tasks.

    There is an organization promoting safe long distance riding that certifies coast to coast runs among other similar types of rides — including coast-to-coast-to-coast rides — that you should be able to find online, along with lists of folks who have completed them to their documentation standards, including the bike used and the elapsed time. You would get an idea of the range of times that people who prepare themselves for this kind of ride are able to turn in, as well as an idea of how far outside that range this particular ride is. While I’m not capable of such a time myself, with some preparation I could likely get within 8-10 hours without undue risk. I can’t imagine any scenario that would me WANT to, though, as I have a pretty good idea of what I’m capable of at this point and I’m not going to set any records.

    • 0 avatar
      Firestorm 500

      The rider himself stated: “I was hitting the kill switch on the bike instead of the turn signal because my senses were overwhelmed.”

      And he trained for 2 years for this. I’m not projecting. You are.

      There’s no way you or anyone else can say that is safe, responsible riding.

      • 0 avatar
        rocketrodeo

        He said he trained his arse for two years. I don’t see any evidence of two years of long distance training if he was in agony because of a poorly-fit saddle, because that issue would have been sorted pretty early in the shakedown process. I spent almost $600 for a saddle built to my exact specifications; at the end of a long ride my knees, shoulders, and wrists are pretty sore, but not my butt. Using an off the shelf aftermarket saddle, though an improvement on the stocker, is asking for trouble. Heck, maybe he wore the wrong underwear or failed to groom properly beforehand — both actual issues that have to be taken into account for long rides.

        It sounds like he pushed right up against his limits. I would not have done this ride in this time, and he made choices that I would not have, not the least of which was a world record attempt on public roads. He also ran into issues I would not have. I have seen a lot of things go wrong in my last ~600,000 miles on two wheels so I tend not to put myself in those situations. But if you ride, and I”m not sure that you do, you know that there’s a hair-breadths’ worth of difference in this and what would be considered “normal” riding in public perception. Safety and responsibility are pretty damn relative.

        • 0 avatar
          Syke

          Not underwear. Chamois lined cycling shorts. For those who haven’t tried it, its amazing what a difference they make.

        • 0 avatar
          Firestorm 500

          Started riding when I was 13, rocketrodeo.

          And that was a long time ago.

          I have driven bikes, cars, trucks, motorhomes long times and distances at a stretch. Longer than I should have.

          Several years ago, I realized the risks just aren’t worth it. I was becoming a danger to myself and others.

          Now, get-there-itis is no longer a priority. Living is.

          • 0 avatar
            rocketrodeo

            Good on ya. “A man has got to know his limitations.”

            I don’t ride at night nearly as much as I used to. Way, way too many deer out there, and my night vision isn’t what it used to be. The safety columnist at Rider magazine got taken out by a backroad Texas deer at night a few years back, an irony with a pointed lesson. I really prefer learning from others’ mistakes.

            Other than that, 400 miles every six hours is a sustainable pace because my bike has been modified to be the most comfortable place I can imagine being. Saves on airline tickets, which is good because I really hate to fly.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      “High speeds are not required.”

      Exactly. It’s only a 40 hour drive according to Google.

      I’ve done the equivalent distance (LA to Montreal) in just over 34 hours with a buddy, without going much faster than anybody around us. We switched drivers at gas stop. Traffic between Denver and Windsor is already going 90 mph, provided you hit Chicago at the right time of day. Same thing on the Canadian side (this was before mandatory truck speed limits, so the congestion wasn’t bad). We only dipped under 80 mph in Utah and the Rockies, and getting out of LA.

      • 0 avatar
        rocketrodeo

        I found it useful to go west to east to get the big miles down early. Lower congestion, higher speed limits. Planning departure time in order to miss traffic around big cities along the route is important too. One of the most useful mods for me (after the saddle and fuel cell) is aux lighting. I used sealed beam aircraft landing lights, which are worth 120,000 candlepower each (x2) on a 7×12 degree beam. Pretty much removes night eyestrain and with the 1/4-1/2 mile illumination, giving you a lot more natural scanning distance.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    This is the stupidest obsession since Pet rocks. What next? Mopeds? Pedal cars? With proper proofs, of course.

  • avatar
    lroy

    Gary Eagan in 2002 I believe. 36 hours 57 minutes on a Ducati

    a related press release: http://www.usdesmo.com/pressreleases/DUCATI%20DONATES%20EGAN%20ST4%20TO%20BARBER%20MUSEUM.pdf

  • avatar
    motorrad

    I’ve never done an Iron Butt but I’ve done a lot of 700-800 mile days on my R1150RS. And running at 100 MPH across the Great Plains isn’t that dangerous in my opinion. most automobile traffic is moving at 80-85 so as long as you are patient when traffic bunches up and wait until it spreads out to roll on the throttle, it’s not nearly as dangerous as some of you guys are making it out to be. Now, doing the same on I-55 between St. Louis and Chicago is a different story.

    I remember passing a Montana state trooper at 95-100 back after they changed to law and he waved as I went by. It’s all in how and where you do it.

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      The problem is when some bro is wired on caffeine and trying to make up time, in a major metropolitan area where innocent people are out on the road getting real things done.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      motorrad – agree. When I was in Montana during the “Reasonable and Prudent” era i passed a state trooper at a buck twenty and he didn’t even bat an eye.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I ride two wheels and prefer Metzler tires , when they introduced that tread pattern my first thought was exactly this sort of wear , then I realized it’s a sport tire so 90 + % of it’s wear would be on the sides .

    Apparently not .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    mor2bz

    What a tough-assed guy, sitting on a motorcycle seat for
    38 hours.

    let’s compare him to Kurt Searvogel.
    http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/searvogel-breaks-75065-mile-record-for-annual-cycling-mileage_392110

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    How do you not get DVT sitting in the same position for near 38 hours?
    I’ve done 300 plus mile days and they can be tough.. Can’t imagine 3K in 38. Worst spot for me is the base of the neck- gets so fatigued.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      You can stand on the bike, you can shift around, you can wave your legs frantically. It’s not an airline seat.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      start chewing aspirin a week or two prior and during the trip or as Jack points out. Just because one is on a bike one is not glued to the seat. Dirt biking teaches you that lesson rather quickly. In many respects bikes are better than cars because riding a bike well is NOT a passive exercise.
      I was in a conversation once with a guy who kept saying “drive a bike”. My reply was, ” You drive cattle and you drive cars. You ride horses and you ride bikes.”
      That pretty much sums it up.

  • avatar
    mor2bz

    Oh, I get DVT. Do you get KS?

  • avatar
    NeilM

    Many decades ago, in a land far, far away, I lived in Geneva but had a girlfriend in Paris. My route was 500 km door-to-door, the first 200 km over the Jura mountains to the two lane roads through rural France, and the final 300 km a high speed blast up the autoroute to Paris. On my Honda 500/4 with a full fairing and aftermarket 5 (Imperial) gallon tank I could do the trip in 4 hours dead, including stops. The first stretch was as fast as you dare, the final one cruising in a tuck at a steady 100 mph at 8000 rpm. This was in pre-speed limit days, more or less, and I was by no means the fastest vehicle on the autoroute, being passed regularly by big Citroëns and the occasional 911. At high speed a tank of fuel lasted less than an hour.

    Of course back then I was young, invincible and in love. And there was never any danger of falling asleep.

  • avatar
    stevelyon

    I’ve done two Iron Butt rides; 1500 miles in 36 hours and 1000 miles in 24. On the right bike (I used a K1200RS), it isn’t difficult at all. I’d stop for a 45 minute nap if I was feeling overly tired, and made both with plenty of time to spare and didn’t have to run insane speeds.

    Now that I’ve got the license plate frame, I’m done with those kinds of rides – I much prefer riding on quiet two-lane roads in the Sierra Nevada.

  • avatar
    Terry

    Hello all!

    3 trips to Mid-Ohio Vintage Race Days, 1 to Deals Gap all from St Louis, Mo. on my 2000 Kawasaki ZRX1100. 500-mile days all.

    The 1st trip temporarily reduced me to a crippled eunuch from the seat pain. A Corbin Gunfighter seat took care of that issue.

    My main problem on long rides is…I get so into the preparation and excitement of the ride I typically dont get enough sleep the night before departure.
    4 hours of sleep before a 350-mile ride into Iowa had me going cross-eyed and yawn-blind, so I definitely was not safe. And I can I relate to catching 10 minutes rest on a park bench and waking up an hour later, only be damn near falling asleep on the bike 30 minutes after I’m back in the saddle.
    1st purchase after I retire is a new Yamaha FJR1300.
    Great topic!

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