Friday, July 26, 2013

Review: The Man Who Would Stop at Nothing

The Man Who Would Stop at Nothing - Long Distance Motorcycle's Endless Road by Melissa Holbrook Pierson

Ms Pierson is an excellent writer with a fluid, easy to read and understand style. I also read her first book, The Perfect Vehicle: What is it about Motorcycles? That book was good, but she has improved a lot and The Man Who Would Stop at Nothing is really super.

The Iron Butt Association: who are they and what possess them to ride extreme distances? (like 1000+ miles a day for 10 or more days in a row) Who does someone who has ridden through all of the lower 48 states in 6.6 days (Mike Kneebone & Fran Crane) look up to? What does it take to make your own butt into Iron? What are the risks and benefits of this kind of riding?

Ms Pierson answers all of these questions and a lot more. She is a lifelong motorcycle rider and it shows in her writing. She spends most of the book talking about Iron Butt riders and events, but there is also a section where she describes her own attempts at endurance riding while preparing to write this book. There is a lot more to it than just hopping on the bike and twisting the throttle.

I really enjoy endurance riding, so reading this was easy and delightful for me. However, I think that anyone who rides, even if it is just for a couple of hours on the occasional weekend, will enjoy it too.

The man most of this book is about, John Ryan, is a true man who stops at nothing. His exploits are nothing short of legendary. Unfortunately, because he rides a motorcycle, rather than flies an airplane or drives a stock car, he will never be heard of by 99% of Americans. This fact is probably okay with Ryan, because he doesn't ride for fame or to win events, he rides for the love of it.

Book I of The Man Who Would Stop at Nothing is about the Iron Butt Association (IBA) in general and about John Ryan, specifically. There are wonderful comparisons between endurance riders and fighter pilots in one part and to cowboys of the old west in another. You learn about people in other disciplines who have done extreme things (like running 350 miles without sleep.)

In Book II, Ms Pierson gives her personal perspective of doing a Saddle Sore 1000 accompanied by none other than John Ryan.
The "hump" on top of the fuel tank, is actually the tank. Mr Ryan's bike has a fuel capacity of about 10 gallons.

Book III is my favorite. It gives an account of what may be John Ryan's most amazing ride. One of the IBA's sanctioned rides in the 50CC. The "CC" stands for Coast to Coast and the "50" means that you must complete the ride in less than 50 hours. One variant of this is the UCC or Ultimate Coast to Coast. It means that you must ride more than 5600 miles between Key West, FL and Prudhoe Bay, AK. In June of 2005, Mr Ryan left from Prudhoe Bay in an attempt to break the record time of 96 hours. After a couple of delays, he finally sets out and shatters the mark by almost 10 hours. Amazing!

Incase you are new to my blog, I, too, rode a Saddle Sore 1000 in 2010 (Has it been that long already?) If you are interesting in reading my account, you can find it HERE

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