Faith Ahlers and the Grizzly Race Team to circumnavigate the globe
St. Michael, Minn., May 5–6—There doesn’t seem to be any better way to celebrate International Female Ride Day than Saturday’s launch party for Faith Ahlers, sponsored by Kuryakyn and Camacho and hosted by Bison Thunder Motorcycle located in St. Michael, Minnesota. Faith, riding an Indian Chieftain Dark Horse, is one of four competing to be the fastest woman to circumnavigate the globe by motorcycle. The 2018 world record race is organized by Urs “Grisu Grizzly” Pedraita and the Grizzly Race Team. The grueling route was previously traveled by Pedraita in 2014, when he set a Guinness World Record of 16 days, 12 hours and 19 minutes traveling a total distance of 15,374 miles. The women’s record will be attempted by the four international participants with Faith representing the United States. Other participants are Swiss rider Isa Müller, riding a BMW S 1000R, Austrian rider Anita Fastl, riding a Honda Africa Twin CRF1000L, and Russian rider Tatiana Igushina, riding a Ducati Scrambler 1100.
During Saturday’s race launch event, Faith shared her feelings of pride representing the United States, and hopes that she will inspire more females to ride motorcycles. When speaking with one of Faith’s sisters, I learned that, from an early age, Faith was very competitive in everything she attempted and not one to fit into anyone’s mold. The youngest of eight, she comes from a large farming family in Oakdale, Illinois. Her mechanical ability comes from the fact that their father felt everybody should be able to fix things on their own whether it be a flat tire or a farm implement. Now she currently helps dealerships around the United States stock their showrooms as a Kuryakyn dealer direct representative. Her current vocation and her background help make her uniquely qualified to tackle this racing challenge.
During our conversations, Faith said that she had one bag dedicated to her clothes and gear and the other to tools. She will be on her own without a support vehicle during the race and will need to be able to handle any mechanical issues that come up. Faith has been preparing for this race by eating healthy and working out, with the objective to maximize her endurance. Some of the longer stretches of the race course will require her to be self-sufficient. As a last-ditch effort, she will be equipped with a panic button in the event of an emergency or a mechanical breakdown beyond her ability to repair. Another important detail to note is that rule compliance is verified through a GPS tracker on Faith herself and one hidden somewhere on her bike. Due to the variable terrain that she will be riding throughout the trip, there are no set number of daily riding miles, but her hope is to do at least 800 miles per day. Faith mentioned that when the roads get bad in Russia, especially past Chita, there is no telling how far she could make it per day. As far as wildlife on the trip Faith noted, “Grizzly gave us all a heads up about the bears; he let us know we are not gonna outrun them. Really when we get past Chita into the Siberian territory, the bears are an issue, but wolves are also a big issue down there.”
When asked about the choice of bike for this race she responded, “Grisu wanted me on something American-made. I couldn’t think of a better product. My heart bleeds Victory; I’m definitely a Victory rider and Polaris did a phenomenal job with that motorcycle. I figure the Indian is just a chip off the old block.” The race will highlight Faith’s choice of the Indian Chieftain Dark Horse. This particular bike was sent to Faith from Switzerland by American Bikes AG. Overall, Kuryakyn outfitted Faith’s bike with 35 components and also supplied accessories such as GPS, cell phone holders, luggage and more. Faith walked me around her bike pointing out the various Kuryakyn comfort and safety upgrades that were installed, including full front-end L.E.D. lighting featuring the Kuryakyn Phase 7 L.E.D. Headlamp, 4 ½” Passing Lamps, and Kuryakyn 3” L.E.D. Driving Lights mounted to the engine guard. Rear lighting was enhanced with the Kuryakyn L.E.D. Rear Fender Strip Lights that offer additional run and brake light functionality. The Chieftain Dark Horse sports multiple Kuryakyn USB Charging Ports and Tech-Connect Device Holders for her GPS and mobile phone. The Kuryakyn Phantom Floorboards and Foot Controls, which aren’t available to the public until late summer 2018, are also installed, as well as the Kuryakyn Toe Rest Cruise Pegs. The luggage used on the bike is Kuryakyn’s Momentum Vagabond Bag and Saddlebag Liners. And Kuryakyn Custom Tie-Down Brackets are being employed for strapping the bike down when she has to crate and ship it overseas.
Mustang Seats also flew Faith out to their facility in Three Rivers, Massachusetts, to make a custom seat for her so she could be closer to the handlebars, which is critical. It has a heated seat feature as well as an adjustable back rest, custom “gripper” cover material and quality embroidery. She told me although the bike is heavy at 745 pounds, “It is remarkably agile due to its low center of gravity,” and she feels that it is easily managed. Faith pointed out the pipes on the bike are painted to look like cigars, celebrating the Camacho Cigar company sponsorship. She had also noted that Camacho is covering all air shipping costs of the bike across the oceans along the route. Other sponsors for this event include Open Road Girl, Caffe Latesso, GoPro, American Bikes AG, Ducati Zurich, MotoCenter, Honda, Shark, Becci, Essento, and Mirage.
Modifications on the bike went to a more personal level, such as the painted constellation of Orion’s Belt on the front fender and also on the top left of her gas tank. The constellation has personal meaning to her family and reminds her of all the people back home that are thinking of her on this adventure. In addition to the constellation, her bike is equipped with a Gremlin bell. These little bells are a good luck charm for motorcycle riders to ward off spirits that would otherwise cause mischief in the mechanics of the motorcycle. In order for the bell to work it must be given to the rider by a loved one, yet more evidence of Faith’s caring and supportive friends and family.
Faith, being the Kuryakyn rep for Bison Thunder Motorcycle, has always had a good relationship with the dealership. Faith introduced the dealership to “Grizzly” which is how Bison Thunder became one of the checkpoints for this ride. Faith had nothing but great things to say about how welcoming and supportive Bison Thunder was to host the day’s events on Saturday and Sunday’s official launch at 7:00 a.m. Bison Thunder will also be hosting the other three riders as they make their journey through the U.S.
Sunday morning before Faith officially began her race was celebrated with the National Anthem, a blessing of Faith’s bike and finally the send-off. It was there many family and friends helped parade her out of the city. Though it is exciting for Faith to represent the United States in this race, it is evident that this is a celebration of women riders around the world. Faith will be back to Bison Thunder to recap her adventure and you can follow Faith and the other three competitors’ progress online at event.gps-live-tracking.com/wwr-2018.