As his back wheel silently spun, spitting out a slew of fresh snow in the first drift of winter, Drew Faulkner never once wondered why he was bothering. Riding his bike for at least 10 miles on 365 consecutive days was hardly the stuff of Guinness Records, but it was something he had to do, and rather wonderfully, grew to love.
“The best reason I can give is that I love riding so much I thought it would be good to do it every day just to see what it’s like,” he says. He and his 2013 Street Scrambler – Rosie – clocked up 663 hours, 37,000km and 94 degrees’ difference between the hottest and coldest rides, in their mission through the snow and dirt of eight US states.
On only one day did he fail to get the thrill, when his 14-year-old Belgian Malinois, Delilah, passed away: “Like being a dog lover, riding a motorcycle is a passion that many don’t understand unless they’ve experienced it for themselves.
“I enjoyed each moment in the saddle except that day. I was empty. For 10 miles, I was simply going through the motions. Numb. Being able to ride every day was incredible, but I would give it all back to play ‘fetch’ in the back yard one more time.”
While that memory remains, it is now part of a tapestry of memories that he and his “incredibly tolerant” wife admit was like a mental reboot.
“When I told people I was going to ride every day for a year, they said ‘you can’t do that’, so I said ‘I will then’. Doing it was pure meditation, it cleared the mind and I felt better and better after every day,” says the Ohio-based mechanical engineer.
“My Scrambler was perfect because it’s made to get filthy, is reliable and loves it on or off road so I could mix my rides up quite a bit and even throw in a few rallies. I always did at least 10 miles, that was the rule. Might not sound a lot but it is in minus six degrees when you’re in a warm house with a hot coffee. Sometimes if the weather was bad I’d be out just before midnight or at the crack of dawn to get the miles in.”
Winter was unforgiving and the time when folks suggested he was crazy. However, as the snowflakes began to fall in December, he started to look forward to riding in the snow and trained for it after the first fall.
“Like riding in the rain, what was once intimidating became fun, at least when it was on my terms. Admittedly, winter did feel endless through March and getting ready to take the bike out each day was sometimes tiring because of the dreary weather, but I always enjoyed the ride.”
‘Far more adaptable…’
He mixed things up a bit, staying safe on Ohio’s highways and in turn tempting fate with full-on rallies and weekend rides through the unpaved roads and gnarly jeep trails of East Kentucky. He says: “Each time I went out I didn’t know if it would be smooth running or an off-road adventure. The weather and my mood decided for me and Rosie was happy with either, like a tractor ploughing through everything and far more adaptable than a 250.
“I’m quite lucky here because there’s a good variation of rides. You can be in North and East Kentucky quite quickly and once you get across the rivers into the bluegrass section of valley and hills, you can lose yourself in the moment.”
That, he insists, was the whole point of his 365-day trek: “To remind myself of what really matters and to feel good.”
• 663 hours in the saddle
• 23,027 miles
• 94 degrees’ difference between the hottest and coldest rides
• 11 litres of oil used
• 8 new tyres installed (9 and 10 were installed on day 370)
• 8 states visited
• 6 record low temperatures
• 6 precipitation records broken
• 5 motorcycle rallies
• 2 valve adjustments
• 2 nails in the rear tyre