WOONSOCKET – The city can now claim a role in the setting of two Guinness World Records this year after those two crazy guys riding 50cc Honda Ruckus motor scooters through the city in September finished their 9,000-mile cross-country journey in Lansdale, Penn., on Nov. 19.
The Project Create 48 team, Yonatan Belik and Mike Reid, had made a stop at Ravenous Brewing on Cumberland Hill Road to shoot their Rhode Island video not long after setting out on Sept. 7 to ride their scooters through each of the Lower 48 states.
Their visit came a month before Jennifer Jolicoeur and her Athena's Cup breast cancer awareness organization set a Guinness World Record for the longest chain of linked bras as certified by Guinness World Records adjudicator Christina Conlon on Oct. 16.
The Athena's Cup Challenge chain of 196,564 bras linked one to another, stretched over 124 miles around and around a soccer field at the city's Rivers Edge Recreational Complex.
Belik, originally from Australia and Israel, and Reid, from Philadelphia, set out on their World Record challenge with a goal of showcasing the diversity of the United States and countering some of the negativity prevalent today with stories about the people they met through their travels posted to the Project Create 8 website, WheelingForTheWorld.org, and their Facebook page. The World Record setters, both veterans of prior challenges, met while working as camp counselors for Seeds of Peace leadership development organization.
Their mode of transport, the scooters, kept their travel speeds to around 30 miles an hour and as result required them to see America from the nation's secondary and less traveled roads while targeting the fastest route to pass through each of the 48 contiguous states.
In an emailed update from the road as they headed west through the upper part of the country, the riders told of gaining the help of people willing to put them up as the weather turned colder and even snowy in places.
“Currently, we are in Clayton, New Mexico, on our way back east,” the riders reported after making it to the Pacific Ocean and started to head down through California and the western states.
“The people we met on our way to the West Coast have simply been amazing. We have encountered so much kindness and hospitality, as well as so many interesting life stories,” they said in their update.
“We encountered some pretty harsh weather in Montana and Idaho. A large snowstorm hit that area of the country and we had to purchase extra layers for warmth for the road,” they added.
As for their top five experiences to that point, their list included:
“Driving through the Rocky Mountains in Idaho during a snowstorm and getting stuck on a mountain pass because we ran out of petrol and had to wait for the petrol station to get electricity back. We slept surrounded by snow in 17-degree weather!”
“Being hosted by members of the Sioux tribe at the Crow Creek reservation in South Dakota. We had dinner with them where they told us stories about their world and their struggles.”
“Reaching the Pacific ocean and feeling both accomplished and amazed that we actually traversed across the entire continent of North America on 50 cc scooters. Simply amazing feeling!”
“Driving through Redwood National Park and feeling how tiny we are compared to nature.
“Driving our bikes off-road last night due to mapping issues. We drove through rocks and sand dunes in southern Utah, and somehow our Honda Ruckuses survived! they truly are great scooters.”
The riders also said they discovered “the natural beauty of the Midwest and western United States is really astounding.
“So far, we have visited the White Mountains, Green Mountain National Forest, Niagara Falls, Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park, and Redwood National Park, with Mesa Verde National Park up next for tomorrow!”
When reached Monday about setting their new World Record, Belik reported the riders had traveled down through Texas, Alabama, and Florida in recent weeks before turning up from Gulf Coast and taking on their final stretch north.
Florida proved to be chilly and rainy, a bit surprising for the sunshine state, he noted, but in Montgomery, Alabama, they met up with people growing up in the Civil Rights Movement who hosted them there and related “lots of interesting stories, it was amazing,” Belik said.
Their scooters ran well but they did have to fix a blown tire on Belik's scooter while out in the Navajo Nation in Arizona and the Native Americans there helped them out as they related on their website, he said.
Reid and Belik put on a presentation about their travels for a group of about 40 to 50 people in Washington DC that was also well received, Belik said.
On the way north, the riders encountered more snow in Tennessee and Kentucky but by their final days on the trip were also being escorted by various scooter and motor bike riders who joined them on their route. That support continued all the way through Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey to the finish line in Lansdale.
The Mayor of Lansdale and the Chief of Police were among the dignitaries showing up for the big welcoming celebration that marked their setting the new World Record as the trip ended, he said.
“The city welcomed us back and it was very meaningful for us to feel the presence of people who just take pride in what we do and are inspired and want us to keep going,” he said.
It should also be no surprise that Belik points to the World Record accomplishment as not an end but the beginning of yet another journey to inspire.
“We have a new World Record in Iceland planned for May and it is going to be the longest journey on a unicycle while juggling three balls,” he explained. That may sound ridiculous, Belik noted, but actually they are doing the challenge with a resident of Iceland who is a professional performer battling an illness similar to MS.
Their teammate knows his physical ability will eventually be curtailed by the illness and as result wants to make the most of what he can do now, according to Belik.
“We want to amplify that and hopefully inspire others to make the most of everything they have,” he said.
And then in June, the pair will be heading to Israel for another challenge, Belik said, this one to cross the country south to north and then head back to their starting point all while riding electric unicycles, a journey of a 1,000 kilometers.
With Israel also currently divided and polarized, Belik said their goal, as they did in the United States, will be to “amplify and showcase the diversity of the different populations in the country which is very exciting.”
The challenge will include an interactive doco-reality show component that will allow people watching at home to have an influence on the riders' route and suggest things for them to do and places for them to see.
That will allow them to “showcase the real Israel, not necessarily the one portrayed on television,” he said.
For more information on ProjectCreate48 visit www.wheelingfortheworld.org.
Follow Joseph Nadeau on Twitter @JNad75