What could be the next challenge after you’ve achieved second place at the grueling TRANS AM BIKE RACE? Keith Morical is upping the ante. Now, he wants his name to appear in the Guinness Book of Records! On June 14th at 5 am, Keith set off from Walla Walla, Washington, to achieve a world record for the fastest time to visit 48 US states by bicycle.
Crossing the entire USA in less than 43 days sounds insane. Especially for a cyclist who is 60 years old. Starting in Washington and ending in Kittery, Maine, the route is 7.100 miles (11,400 km) long, with more than 212,000 ft (64,600 m) elevation gain. That’s 70% longer than the Trans Am Bike Race! Before he set off, Keith rang me to discuss what gear would be ideal for the world record challenge.
“First of all, congratulations!” I said. “What a great result that was last year. Finishing second in the Trans Am Bike Race. Wow!” “Yeah,” said Keith, “that’s a tough race, Marcus, especially because it’s unsupported.” ‘Unsupported’ means that riders in the Trans Am Bike Race are not allowed any private resupply or private lodgings. You have to be your own rider, navigator, mechanic, cook, and physio.
Keith has been a Supernova enthusiast for some time, and he used the E3 PRO2 Dynamo light for the Trans Am race. “How was the E3 PRO2 light during the Trans Am?” I asked. “It was great! You really need a good dynamo light on a self-supported race. But the upcoming world record attempt is different because I’m travelling with a crew. My two sisters, my niece, a filmmaker and a photographer will all follow in a van.”
We then explored which lights would work best for his world record tour. After all, lights are a critical part of the equipment when completing an ultra-distance event safely. In the end, Keith decided to use the super bright Supernova B54, as well as the Airstream2 in order to be able to adjust to terrain and time of day. For this race he doesn’t need dynamo lights as his support crew can charge the batteries.
But what about the pandemic?
Doesn’t the deadly threat of Covid-19 turn this journey into an impossible challenge? That’s not the way Keith thinks. If anything, the pandemic and the divisions within the USA spur him on. He wants to show how the dream of one individual can give hope to a nation in need of light.
I promised to send him 500 of the masks we have here at Supernova. Keith and his team want to give them to people he meets on the way who lack a mask and of course they will use them as well to stay safe. I think that’s a great idea!
This extreme journey is going to be full of risks. Anything can happen. Keith and his team will have to go through emotional, physical, and material challenges. The bike or the support van can break. Keith’s body can break, it can storm, and he could face extreme temperatures – nobody knows how this will end.
Is he going to make it?
Keith has an iron determination. But he is not just doing this challenge to prove himself. He wants to document the state of division in the USA. For many people, the future is uncertain. Some have lost everything and need to start anew. The photographer is going to document Keith’s journey and his encounters on the way. On day one, Keith rode 427 km (265 miles) despite fog, rain, and freezing temperatures. What’s next?
Stay tuned for more on Keith’s epic journey!
Text: Marcus Wallmeyer | Pictures: Kyle Miller, Jeremy Rubier | Video: Jeremy Rubier