LANSDALE >> If you come to the 69th Annual Lansdale Mardi Gras Parade this Saturday, keep your eyes peeled to see two men wearing bright blue sweatshirts with the words ‘World Record’ on the front and riding motorized scooters down the course of the parade. They will celebrate their return to the borough almost three months after embarking on an adventure across the country of more than 9,000 miles that will earn them a place in the Guinness Book of Records.
At 7:45 p.m. Tuesday night, Yonatan Belik, 30, of Israel, and Michael Reid, 32, of south Philadelphia, officially completed their attempt to break the world record for the longest ride on a 50cc scooter by pulling their Honda. Ruckus scooters in the parking lot of the town hall. They were greeted in town by Mayor Garry Herbert and Police Chief Michael Trail, who officially witnessed the end of the duo’s round trip across America known as “Project Create.” 48 â. Their effort shattered the previous record of 8,968 miles.
The decision to ride scooters, given their top speed of around 35 mph, was intentional, according to the team‘s website. âWe recognize how our busy lives cause us to focus on the destination rather than the journey, so we choose to take it slow. Invest time to immerse ourselves in our surroundings and avoid any chance of getting a speeding ticket while driving at 30 mph.
The two set a similar record for the longest distance scooted in 24 hours last summer. Both were produced under the direction of “Wheeling for the World”, a global association of members who seek to collaborate across cultures and countries.
The duo were delighted to be back in Lansdale and said the unique experience was both uplifting and inspiring. The purpose of the trip was to bond community by meeting new people and learning their stories. For Reid, the trip helped him learn to trust the kindness of complete strangers.
âI grew up in a tough neighborhood and often have a strong distrust of strangers,â he said. âPeople I don’t know don’t have my best interests in mind. This is what I firmly believed before that.
He told the story of driving one evening in the freezing cold of New Mexico and at risk of developing hypothermia from the exposure. âBelik had the idea of ââknocking on a stranger’s door in the New Mexico countryside. Being from the United States, I knew you don’t do this. You get shot doing that, âReid said. Belik did it anyway and graciously the owner invited them inside. “It was a great timeâ¦ when it came to actually, they were very friendly.”
The trip challenged Reid’s preconceptions about compassion for strangers and helped him learn to befriend every new person he meets.
Belik, meanwhile, has learned to overcome the physical demands of travel. âOne thing that comes to my mind is how difficult it was,â he said. âWe talk six to ten hours a day sitting on our buttocksâ¦ on unfamiliar terrain, in weather conditions I’ve never experienced in my life. I grew up in Israel. it’s hot. Here it is not only snowing, it is actually freezing. Your fingers are numb.
The trip was also an opportunity for Belik and Reid to inspire others. Along the way, they documented their travels online through photos and videos and by interviewing more than 200 people they met in each state. They hoped to share America’s untold stories. Belik called the journey a “shlichut,” which is a Hebrew word meaning a mission or an inner call. Everywhere they went, they met new people and learned their personal stories. He hoped that their attempt to break the world record would inspire people to pursue their own personal dreams, no matter how far-fetched they were. âEveryone has dreams and everyone has aspirations,â he said. “And some people don’t necessarily believe they can reach themâ¦ We were on a mission and everyone has a mission.”
Happy to see you again
The trip began on September 7, when the duo set off during Lansdale Bike Night, sponsored by the Blue Comet Motorcycle Club in Skippack. Gene Reynolds, president of Lansdale Bike Night, said the two travelers contacted him to start their trip at the family event and it looked perfect.
“We escorted them out of town with one of our members who took a picture of them leaving town and we were able to follow them online to find out where they were,” he said. he declares. âThey contacted me several times. They contacted me once and they were in the snow in New Mexico. They’re two crazy guysâ¦ it’s been a great experience.
âIt’s a good thing for our club because we are so diverse,â said Russell Smith, president of the Blue Comet Motorcycle Club. âMost motorcycle clubs have a bad reputation and we do a lot of charitable work, veteran work. We are a family biker club. We’ve been around forever and we have a lot of respect there.
State Representative Steve Malagari, D-53rd Dist., Who helped evict Reid and Belik in September but was unable to make it to their meeting on Tuesday, praised their accomplishment. âTheir goal of connecting communities and cultures through conversation is a cause that speaks volumes and is also at the heart of what our district strives to achieve,â he said. âA better understanding of our communities and our world through dialogue is something we should all aspire to have. I’m proud that this world record started and ended in Lansdale, PA and the 53rd District.
Meanwhile, Herbert was delighted to welcome the two travelers to town on Tuesday evening, having been there to see them leave almost three months previously. âI am extremely proud that Lansdale is featured in the Guinness Book of Records. It’s a monumental occasion, âsaid Herbert, who embraced Belik and Reid on their return. âIt’s not everyday that you welcome the start and end of a trip like this. This is a testament to the quality of the Lansdale community.
Herbert said he was proud of Reid and Belik’s accomplishment, as well as their message about slowing down and enjoying the world around you. âIt’s really positive,â Herbert said. âWe are constantly changing and moving forward. There is value in slowing down and enjoying the world around you. It resonates with the residents of Lansdale because of who we are and everything that is happening in our community.
With their accomplishment now headed to the record books, Reid and Belik said they are already making plans for their next adventure. The two travel to Iceland to break the world record for the longest distance in an electric unicycle while juggling three balls.
âI know that sounds absurd, and it’s a little absurd,â Belik said. âWhat we’re trying to do here is use the notoriety of Guinness World Records to draw attention to important things. The guy we’re going to do this with, he’s got a disease similar to (multiple sclerosis). He’s an amazing performer and juggler, but he knows he’s going to lose his ability to perform and be physically active in the years to come. We want to draw attention to this. Not just for people in his place to push each other, but for people like us who have skills that don’t necessarily push themselves to these extremes.
After Iceland, the pair will travel to Israel in June to begin a 600-mile journey on electric unicycles from the country’s northern tip to the southern tip and back. The aim will be to amplify the stories of the people of the country and to humanize them for the world to see. “We want to close these growing gaps,” Belik said.
To learn more about Reid and Belik’s record-breaking adventure, visit https://projectcreate48.wheelingfortheworld.org/
The 69th Annual Lansdale Mardi Gras Parade begins Saturday, November 23 at 1 p.m. The rain or shine event features community organizations, local groups and ends with a visit from Santa. The parade stretches from Main and Mitchell Streets to Main and Park Street. For more information visit http://lansdale.org/400/Mardi-Gras-Parade
Editor-in-chief Dan Sokil contributed to this report.