Guinness World Record pursuers with an eye towards a different prize

Thursday, October 10, 2019
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Photo by Alastair Baker
Left to right, Yonatan Belik and Michael Reid with their 50CC Scooters on Broadway, Red Lodge. They are attempting to break a Guinness World Record but also attempting to uncover the real America and inspire others to live their dreams.

By Alastair Baker

News Editor

While Michael Reid and Yonatan Belik are attempting to break the Guinness World Record for the longest journey on 50cc scooters through 48 states they are also pursuing other goals; that of uncovering the real America and encouraging others to shed their shackles of societal’s rules and follow their dreams.

Their journey started Sept. 7 on Lansdale Bike Night, Lansdale, Pennsylvania, and will make a circuitous 9,000-mile loop across the country traveling at 35 mph to finish at the Philadelphia Cycle Center approximately 86 days later. The present record stands at 8,900 miles.

The journey has taken them offline so to speak and into an America that is rare- ly seen from the speeding Interstate lanes, hence their visit through Red Lodge, Oct. 5.

Reid explains, “We are working on a website to showcase the diversity in the United States and to us it represents diversity. It may not be perceived as such but I live abroad and people feel America is very homogenous. We all look the same and think the same. It’s not the case.” Reid is originally from Philadelphia and now works as a glacier guide in Iceland. “I haven’t had an opportunity to travel through America myself till now.

“These towns are polarized but there is also so much acceptance,” said Reid. “People are still afraid of approaching strangers but we are doing this all the time, to get meaning out of

the experience. It has been fantastic, especially for me coming from Philly, where you don’t approach strangers and they want to hurt you and they don’t have your best interests in mind. It’s been the exact opposite.”

Belik, a salmon fisherman in Alaska, reiterated their agenda.

“There are two reasons why we are here: One is we grew up in a society that told us what we are capable of, what we can and can’t do. Watching the Olympics and seeing world records broken but only seeing them, never even fathoming that this is something we could potentially do. That’s what we are told. This is a reminder to ourselves and the people around us we are capable of more of what we are told but we have to be completely dedicated to it,” said Belik.

“And the same thing that Mike latched on to is the diversity and showcasing the real life of the United States despite these divisive times. We are combining both these to amplify the moment. We are normal people, that’s what we are, normal people, doing something that some people think is unbelievable.”

“What we are doing is shattering stereotypes. The world right now is acting on this, to maintain our being,” said Belik. “We purposely drove through the reservation in South Dakota. All we see are bad things, bad reputations, crime, and alcoholism and it was one of the most hospitable places. Everyone was welcoming us. That is our responsibility to showcase this, to humanize those who are dehumanized 

on a constant basis."
This is the pair’s second

World Record together, the first being the greatest distance traveled on a kick scooter in 24 hours, last year.

They ride 10 hours a day following a schedule that is “mindboggling” said Reid.

The speed of the bikes is an essential element in their project because it allows them to see the landscape and the people as they pass through.

They have only been told once to slow down.

“A big achievement for us,” joked Reid.

“Everyone is passing us all the time,” said Belik.

“Typically when you are traveling in a car at 65mph,

you are focusing on the destination, you want to finish the trip. With us going 35mhp you may look at somebody and look at them multiple times because it takes so long to pass something,” said Reid. "We are seeing amazing views, and it brings us closer to the journey and what we can appreciate through the journey. I think that’s a very different way for me to travel and for many people, so hopefully people get to see that ‘wow, if you take time to slow down there are so many amazingly beautiful things to see.'”

“The elements are not only on your face but your skin, all your senses are in tune with your journey,” said Belik.

“There are many records to break, but this allows us to experience the United States, cross this beautiful landscape. The Badlands are amazing. I was thinking ‘where are we?’ So different to anything I’d seen,” said Reid. “Several people along the way are sharing the joke which is, they will say, ‘I want to go from one side of the coast to another’ but they don’t see anything, they just see the Interstate,” said Belik.

“It is interesting the restrictions we place upon ourselves. People ask 'are you getting paid to do this?' Of course not, no one gave this to us. The last record took us 6 months preparations, this one took us 4 months. He is a salmon fisherman and I’m a glacier guide in Iceland. I was working 10- hour days, working on this 5 hours a night. He was working the boats 15-16 hour days and still working afterward,” said Reid. “You don’t have to be special. You don’t have to have money, just a massive amount of tenacity and recognition of your dream and getting to pursue this. And that’s when you get it. When you strip away these justifications, and rationalizations of ‘I can’t because.’ There are many reasons that ‘you can’t because’, and you move beyond that and then 

you can because you know you can and you want to.”

“The idea is to transition this into a show. It is exciting for everyone involved. Everyone’s goal is to live their lives and get paid for it and sustain it, and what we love is to travel and meet people, their stories, and if we can maintain this while inspiring others...a World Record is just notoriety, publicity, the real thing is to travel and get to know people,” said Belik. “We want to go round the world, we want to get on bikes, with a camera crew and showcase what this is about and that will inspire many others. We are not doing justice to what we are creating right now but that it is what we’d like to do for the future.”

“Capitol Hill, people of congress listen to us while we bring people from parts of the nations to share their stories, and have an event where we are physically amplifying people in the states that we’ve met,” said Belik. “For us, that is a materialization of our vision which will have an impact on those who make decisions over our lives.”

After Red Lodge, both Reid and Belik headed towards Gardiner. Their one disappointment, the Beartooth Pass was closed.

Follow the journey Wheeling for the World (FB) / #WheelingForTheWorld (IG) / www.projectcreate48. com

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