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Riders attempt to break world record, but human connections are the real goal

Riders attempt to break world record, but human connections are the real goal


Expedition athlete Michael Reid, left, and video producer Yonatan Belik stopped in Kenosha during their attempt at setting a world record for the longest distance traveled on motor scooters. They are traveling the continental 48 states and producing video documentaries on each state they visit. The 1866 lighthouse on Simmons Island is behind them.

Mike Reid and Yonatan Belik are on the ride of their lives.

The pair, who embarked on their adventure taking off on mopeds from Philadelphia on Sept. 7, are attempting to break the record for the longest distance traveled on 50cc scooters with the hope of traveling 9,000 miles through 48 states over the course of about 84 days.

Over the weekend, they stopped in Kenosha, where they were welcomed with a community reception, replete with food, drinks and camaraderie Saturday night at a lake front hotel and a chance to get to know locals as they made their way through their 14th state.

Belik, 29, who grew up in Israel, and Reid, 31, a Philadelphia native, are members of Wheeling for the World, a collective of “change-makers working together through the power of movement both to explore and inspire,” according to their website.

Their current travels, known as Project Create48, is their second Guinness World Record attempt. On Aug. 17-18 of last year they set the “Greatest distance on a kick/push scooter in 24 hours” which they accomplished with 25 people in a relay-style event in Gorham, Maine, and are now record holders.

Setting a world record

According to the Guinness World Records website, the longest journey on a 50 cc scooter is 14,434 km (8,968.85 miles) and was achieved by Theodore Rezvoy and Evgeniy Stoyanov, both of the Ukraine, who travelled from Odessa, Ukraine, to Ulan Ude, Russia, between July 11 and Sept. 11, 2013.

“The overarching theme to the concept of breaking a world record is that we grew up and were told by society what we can and cant’ do — sort of putting us in a box,” said Belik, who remembered as a kid watching the Olympic games and world records being set by athletes.

“And, these things are things I never foresaw that I could achieve. It was always through the television and always people I could never meet,” he said Sunday while at the Wyndham Garden Kenosha Harborside.

Belik said, however, the Guinness book also has feats by others doing extraordinary things — things he and Reid can do with vision and commitment, and of course, time.

“So setting a world record is kind of the exemplification of transitioning from a vision or materializing a vision and it’s ours and we have done this by our own grit,” he said.

More than just miles

The mopeds go about about 30-35 mph and the two average about 150 miles per day, about six to 10 hours rumbling on the road. Staying at a hotel is a welcome luxury (their stay was sponsored), but for the most part they camp out in tents, said Belik, a video producer.

But their journey is so much more than a numbers game, they said. They are documenting their trek through rough roads, river valleys and rainstorms (Belik is seen in one social media post emptying his boots of rainwater in Illinois) while interviewing the people they meet along the way.

“As an outsider of United States, I’m noticing that in the U.S., just generally how people are more and more scared of the other and there’s fear and that sense of ‘I don’t want to expose myself,’ and I’m going about the same thing on my newsfeed because that’s what I want to be reading,” he said.

Their mopeds, however, are the passports to help “amplify the diversity” present and the real people who go beyond the fast-paced virtual reality in the world, they said.

Exceeding own expectations

Reid, who grew up in South Philadelphia and attended schools “plagued with a lot of racial violence,” said he looks at their journey as one that breaks free of the “box of expectations” that society has held for him. In the process he has realized he, too, has placed himself inside. At his school, statistics for youths pointed to the increased likelihood of him dying or going to prison than to college. He heavily internalized all that.

“I did terribly on the SATs. Three of my friends, two of them are in prison. One of them is gone. I have no idea where he is at,” he said. “None of them made it out.”

Reid, who currently works as a glacier climbing guide in Iceland, wants people to know that there are ways to break that mold, and the first thing is to realize that they’re in one.

“My goal is to exemplify the idea that first we recognize the box where I’ve placed myself in,” Reid said, and having different perspectives surrounding him, including Belik, allows him to forge a new way of thinking. “It’s hard to take responsibility first. But once we realize that you can step out of it.

“This is also an attempt for me to recognize the expectations that are placed upon me due to my upbringing living in the United States and bring it back to my community, of my environment — that I’ve made it out,” he said. “Not because I’m talented or special … but because I persevered. I understood that I could step out of this box.”

Their next stop on the 48-state route is Minnesota.

To follow Reid and Belik go to

They can also be found on Facebook at


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