Monday, October 14, 2013

A Long Distance Riding Legend Is Gone

John Ryan, the man who would stop at nothing, is gone.  I'm sitting here this morning, unable to sleep, still thinking it's all a bad dream. John was killed yesterday in a motorcycle accident.  While I hadn't known known John very long or really all that well, I feel like a void has been created in my life.  I didn't meet John until this year's Very Boring Rally in Minnesota.  I had read about him and his long distance riding accomplishments including his record time of just over 86 hours from Alaska to Florida. So why is a usually non-sentimental guy like me at such a loss?

I just started riding motorcycles in late 2010 and did not discover long distance riding until mid 2011.  I started posting some of my accomplishments on Facebook and mentioned John in a couple of those.  One day I logged in and had a friend request from The John Ryan, I was thrilled.  I accepted the request and before too long, when I would post something about riding, a rant about liberals, or how a good guy shot a bad guy, I'd get a "like" from John.  Maybe stupid to some, but to me, it was exciting every single time.  His posts were always entertaining, even during that time he thought about quitting Facebook.  I loved reading the stories about Fubar Farms or how he thought Obama was the worst President ever.  It seemed we shared a bond that was hard to explain.  That's how John was to me, a legend but a guy who didn't act like it and took the time to make you feel like you belonged.

I met John briefly at the Aerostich Very Boring Rally this year and heard him speak.  I remember wanting to get there early in case the room filled up so I could sit close.  When I walked in the room, John was asleep on the stage, just sacked out in his Stich, not moving a muscle.  He woke up right at the starting time but was having some issues with his blood sugar level and ate some fruit before he started talking.  I could tell he wasn't comfortable in front of a crowd and would probably prefer to be out riding somewhere on his bike instead of speaking.  He talked for a while, then answered every question anyone had.  I remember how good natured he was with the ventriloquist when I'm sure he would have preferred to strangle the guy but there were too many witnesses.  I was so awestruck, I took a picture of his Yamaha parked just outside the front door.  It looked...well.....ridden.  John didn't care about the latest technology or a clean shiny bike, he liked to ride.  No bluetooth helmet, smartphone, or any other contraption, just him, the bike, and the road.

John and I were gong to share a room at the end of this month at the Iron Butt Association party in Dallas.  I was looking forward to it, but now I'm not sure I want to go.  I can hear John now though when he sees all of us mourning his loss and he'd probably say something like this "F it, I zigged when I should have zagged and that f-ing cager nailed me.  You guys don't sit around feeling sorry me, get off your ass and go ride."  I'll go ride, but I'll be a little less excited about knowing John's not here to "like" my post when I write about it.


  1. What a loss to the motorcycling community. I'm glad you were able to make a connection with him. Let those memories be an inspiration, and keep riding.

  2. Sorry to hear you lost someone inspiring to you. Now go out there and make the guy proud!