It’s been more than 16 years since a day went by without Blaine Paulus Jr. throwing his leg over a motorcycle.
Now many of us love to ride, and do so constantly. But how many of us can say we’ve gone an entire year without missing a day? We all have days where we might decide it’s too cold, or too hot, or too wet, or too icy, or maybe we just literally have too much to do.
“I don’t take a rest day,” Blaine told me. “I have to get on a bike.”
It was 1997 when Blaine and his buddy Chris, after hearing about a friend who was working towards a “perfect year” (riding his motorcycle every single day), decided they needed to try tracking their days and seeing how many they could ride.
“Initially, there was no goal,” Blaine said. “Chris and I just wanted to see who had the most days.”
The first year Blaine logged 247 days and thought that was pretty good. But he had no idea where this journey would take him. He didn’t offer whether or not that was more than Chris that year, and I got the impression it would be rude to ask.
It took Blaine a couple of tries, but eventually he got his perfect year. It started on Feb. 21, 2000, and well, it seems that just whetted his appetite. After that, one perfect year wasn’t enough, so then there were two, and three, which leads us to today.
It has been more than 6,000 days since a day passed without a ride.
We’re not talking about hopping on the bike, riding it up and down the driveway and calling it a day. When he and Chris started their quest for the perfect year, they set some ground rules. In order to count a day, they had to ride at least 10 miles. Not a mile here, a mile there. It had to be at least 10 solid miles.
That might not seem daunting to someone living in southern California or central Arizona (unless you melted easily in the summer), but Blaine lives in central Pennsylvania, and that’s another matter. I mean, I’ve been caught in some bad weather, even walked out to my bike at the end of the day and brushed off a little snow off it, but how do you deal with a blizzard?
“With big storms you have to choose your window,” Blaine told me. And seeing his long winding driveway with a 30-degree grade on the side of small rural mountain told me he was understating it.
“Snow is probably nicer than 45 degrees and raining,” he said. “It might be harder to do if I lived in, say, North Carolina because of the freezing rain.”
To show he’s legit about this, he has kept log books of every day, every year, and every ride. It’s like a motorcycle diary that goes back a more than a decade. Each page meticulously journaled with the number of miles in a day, what bike was ridden, what might have happened on that ride. Sometimes they contain mementos. He showed me a number of personally signed love letters from the local constabulary (i.e. tickets and warnings).
By nature, Blaine is prone to tracking things. He comes by it honestly as the grandson of a heavy equipment mechanic and son of a hard-working single mom who needed to keep tight books to make ends meet. Both of those people had a strong influence on him long before he spent some time in college and at a technical school for air conditioning repair.
Like many of us he rode from a young age and his passion for motorcycles grew with the years. He raced motocross, Harleys, and even nouveau Triumphs. From 1978 to 1990, he operated his own motorcycle shop (BP Cycles) in central Pennsylvania. There was even a time he held the local Moto Guzzi franchise and raced Guzzis. Famed Ducati tuner Eraldo Ferracci once yelled at him in the pits, “Why you race those tractors? Come over here and you’ll go faster.”
But somehow after all that he still needed a challenge, so a 16-year riding streak is it. Blaine keeps a small fleet of bikes to accomplish this. Three Moto Guzzis and a BMW sit in his living room and kitchen, each with nearly 100k miles on the odometers. But in his basement workshop and out in the garage, where the current workhorses live, there’s more variety.
“I like dual-sports and adventure bikes. Sitting upright gives me control, a power stance like in Judo,” he said, speaking another language that’s dear to my heart as a lifelong martial artist.
“Lighter is better,” he added, and I could see his point. Just thinking about picking up an 800-pound beast on some gravel gives me shivers, but he’s talking about picking it up on snow or ice.
His ice bikes are prepped with knobbies and studs, plus some hand guards and usually some form of small windshield. Still, he pointed to a BMW K 1200 and told me about the time it started sliding backwards down his driveway in just a light snow. One time they got 29 inches of fresh snow and his Honda TLR200, which was prepped for winter duty, was still in the basement of a house without a walk-out. So he and his son carried it up the stairs and to the front door so he could get his 10 miles in (after they shoveled the driveway, so they could at least get it to the road).
And then there was the time his girlfriend wanted to see Hawaii. It’s one thing to make sure you have a rental bike waiting at your destination. It’s another thing to book layovers in California on both ends of the trip with rental bikes there too, just to make sure your streak goes unbroken.
I guess we all have our own form of passion for motorcycles and I have been accused of being obsessed more than once, but I’m thinking Blaine takes this to a new level.
With winter setting in, think of Blaine the next time you’re looking out your car window at nasty weather. And for you guys and gals in southern Cali and the Southwest, please don’t rub it in this time of year. Thanks in advance.