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The Man Who Would Stop at Nothing


After a SaddleSore, either you go on or you don’t. Either that was the hardest day of your life, or it was one of the most indescribable. Or it was one because it was also the other, and so you continue on. John Ryan found it an agreeable challenge after riding 1,600 miles in fewer than twenty-four hours to next cross the country in under fifty hours. Then he thought it interesting to improve, or debauch, this “50CC Quest” by doing it again, four months later, adding hundreds of miles to the route. 2004 turned out to be a big year: In addition to those coast-to-coast ambles, he hammered a Bun Burner 3000 Gold—back-to-back 1,500-mile days, or 3,000 miles in under forty-eight hours—and then a Bun Burner Gold Trifecta, the 4,500 miles between New Jersey and Winslow, Arizona, and back in three days. He wrote the original book on that little achievement; since then, eight other riders have followed his lead. Now it seemed to function as a compulsion: the bike in one direction, throttle on. And on. If you are wired a certain way—some are, though many aren’t—you find it hypnotic to keep the wheels turning, a disturbing annoyance to stop. And so you stop less, and less. At some point, you hit the wall, and then it opens like a door, into the zone. In the zone, there are vast spaces of insuperable calm.

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