While the record may not be familiar, the names behind setting it are. Regular readers of Clutch and Chrome may remember professional endurance driver Carl Reese who has set several motorcycles records and even encouraged his fiancée, Deena Mastracci to do the same. Joined by Sebastian Montero of Quito, Ecuador the pair set the new world record for riding on motorcycles from the closest point on Earth to the sun to an elevation at sea-level in a single day. Reese and Montero reached a gain/loss in elevation of 56,678 feet during their endeavor.
The setting of the new world record showed much more than the endurance and efforts of two motorcycle enthusiasts, it highlighted the common trait of riders who could be called ‘big-hearted bikers’. The event even caught the attention of an entire continent, after President of Ecuador Rafael Correa and Minister of the Interior of Ecuador José Serrano tweeted about Reese’s eighth world record attempt, the posts became the top tweets in South America.
Reese and Montero embarked on this record-setting ride to bring awareness to the Coalition of Hope Foundation’s efforts to rebuild Ecuador after the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake this past April. On a tour, led by Minister Serrano’s staff, Reese witnessed and learned about the heart breaking aftermath of the earthquake, including the loss of over 650 lives and 26,000 homes.
“Seeing the destruction that the earthquake caused was an emotionally overwhelming experience,” says Reese. “The challenge of setting endurance records is nothing compared to what the people of this region have had to endure during this rebuilding process. All the people from Ecuador who I have talked to have managed to stay positive despite the grief surrounding them and that is truly inspiring.”
Reese and Montero at Canoa Beach, where the finish line of their record-setting 17-hour journey was located.
In addition to bringing attention to the Ecuadorian earthquake victims in need, this record attempt was an effort to increase awareness of the Motorcycle Relief Project, a 501.3 (c) charity that provides relief to combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and other injuries. Reese and his fiancé, Deena Mastracci, have set multiple transcontinental records to bring awareness to the Motorcycle Relief Project.
Ecuador is the only place on Earth where Reese and Montero’s world record could be accomplished, or more precisely Chimborazo, the highest mountain which is located in the South American country. However, even at 20,548 feet, Chimborazo isn’t the highest mountain by elevation above sea-level in the world, but its location along the equatorial bulge makes its summit the closest point on Earth’s surface to the sun. Although Chimborazo is typically off-limits to motorcycles due to the remoteness of the mountain in the case of an emergency, Minister Serrano granted Reese and his team special access to the natural wonder.
This was a world record which enjoyed the pomp and circumstance they were known for in days gone by. Before daybreak, the record-setting team rallied at Gas Motors in Cumbayá, Quito where Minister Serrano presided over the world record attempt’s opening ceremonies. With the street lined for two blocks with uniformed officers, a marching band played as Reese and Montero were led by a national police motorcade to the starting line atop Chimborazo.
It wasn’t without its challenges. Twelve hours before the planned departure, Reese became ill and severely dehydrated, prompting the suggestion that Montero ride alongside Reese to keep an eye on his condition while riding in the thin, mountain air. The two became fast friends as they maneuvered their motorcycles along jagged cloud-forest peaks and hairpin bends, traveling from the snowcapped Andes through a lush, green, tropical landscape to the finish line near the Pacific Ocean.
Despite obstacles, delays and the great distance to the finish line, the men completed their journey in just 17 hours, finishing at 10:22 pm, only two hours later than expected.
“Turning back was not an option. If I can stand, I will ride” said Reese. “I would have pushed the motorcycle the last 85 miles if I needed to.”
A map of Reese and Montero's record-breaking route from Chimborazo to Canoa Beach provided by GPS Insight.
Reese used FirstGear-USA’s Adventure Mesh Jacket, Kilimanjaro Pants and Vented Low Boots to keep himself comfortable and protected from the extreme weather changes during the descent from the top of the snowy Andes Mountains, through the humid jungle, to the cool evening weather along Ecuador’s coast.
The trip was captured on film by Brad Barker, of Epic Nomad Productions, and will be featured on Barker’s YouTube channel, “The Ride of My Life.” Barker is an Emmy Award-winning producer based in southern California who has worked on Discovery Channel, History Channel and several documentaries. Barker was instrumental in putting this project together.
The 2016 BMW 1200 GS that Reese rode was on loan from a member of Brosters Group – BMW Motorrad Club Ecuador, Dr. Sergio Vallejo Rojas.
As in his previous world record attempts, Reese carried an American flag gifted to him by retired veteran and friend, SFC Rod Hawk, for good luck. The flag originally flew in Iraq and was presented to Hawk for his accomplishments during the war.
“I carry the flag as a reminder of the Motorcycle Relief Project, a major reason why I set these endurance records,” said Reese, who has also served in the army.