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.