Life is sort of a funny thing, you know? And you have the choice every day to decide what you’re going to do with this life you’ve been given.
As spoken by American actress and playwright Mae West, “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” But it has also been said that you don’t live once, you live every day. So why not make the most of it while you can?
On April 15, 2015, Avery Starkey, Tom Solymosi and Brad Franssen, three friends from New Jersey, set out on a journey of a lifetime. Their expedition, appropriately named The Full Ride, started out as a lifelong aspiration of Avery’s to see the continent on his motorcycle.
The men spent two years carefully planning their trip, finalizing their trek through three countries, 49 states, touching the furthest northeastern, southeastern, southwestern and northwestern-most points in the continental United States, crossing into Mexico, and through three Canadian provinces — covering 25,000 miles in four months.
While on this expedition, Avery, Tom and Brad have learned a lot about life and themselves. According to their blog, the trip has been nothing short of a challenge, from constant repairs and maintenance to their bikes to riding through some of the roughest terrains in the country, all of which were expected.
I admire their determination.
Despite the frustrations caused by complete bike breakdowns, rough, torturous terrains, and nights spent sleeping on concrete, Avery, Tom and Brad pushed through it all. Their positive attitudes and unwillingness to let anything keep them down are an inspiration to anyone facing tough challenges in life, no matter what those challenges might be. They seem to have found some sort of harmony on the road that has given them a certain wisdom that could only be attained riding thousands of miles with what you can fit on a motorcycle.
One of my favorite passages comes from Tom: “With my experiences gained that night I can say this: Go. Leave. Travel. See. Experience. Feel. The road can take a person down a truly magical and beautiful path. An indescribable one, I’ll add. It will. I can guarantee it. The only real trick is to stay away as long as possible. Long enough to become unglued to the life you left behind. You might die. It won’t be easy. You’ll need money. Things will go wrong. You may question what’s real at times. But it needs to go that way.”
And quoting Brad on his final leg of the trip, “While not returning ‘home’ and instead jumping head-first into uncertainty may seem like a foolish endeavor to some, to us it feels perfectly right, and it all happened just like it was supposed to. Call it God, a Higher Power, the Universe, The Butterfly Effect, or simply a series of unlikely coincidences that all somehow fit together perfectly.
“Whatever your belief, as the person who’s living it I can tell you it is a force well beyond my understanding or control. And the less I try to control it the better the results. The journey is not over for me. Far from it. This is just the beginning. This is the adventure; right here, right now. Tom, Avery, Bill, Elizabeth, you, me… we’re all on it together. This is the trip. This is The Full Ride.”
With Brad recently departing from the group (see above story), Tom and Avery are homeward bound, passing through J&P Cycles‘ headquarters in Anamosa, Iowa, on Aug. 17. With them they brought along Mart, whom they met in Coldfoot, Alaska, on the way to Deadhorse a month ago. They reunited with their new friend by chance in Deadwood, S.D., have ridden with him for the past few days and will soon be parting ways, and Tom and Avery will finish what they started.
“After all of the epic landscapes that we have ridden through (35 states so far) from mountains to the sea through deserts and canyons and everything in between, it is hard to compare it all. But after going to the very end of the road in Deadhorse, Alaska and then turning around, it was settling and comforting to be back ‘home,’ riding through the heartland. There is a special feeling rolling down the road between the cornfields, watching the barns and silos go by. We have seen the grandeur of America from behind our bars, and it exists here in Iowa in a pure and simple form.”
You can also read more about their story and donate at http://www.gofundme.com/thefullride. According to their Go Fund Me page, footage of this momentous journey will be made into a documentary film to be produced in 2016.