Biker traveling to Arctic Circle for the children
- By Tom Holton
In the early morning hours of June 13, Carl Sutter, 75, will climb on his 800-pound Yamaha motorcycle and embark on a 12,000-mile round-trip to Alaska’s Arctic Circle region.
It will be the New Smyrna Beach motorcyclist’s sixth annual long-distance ride to raise money to support children’s programs sponsored by the Southeast Volusia Kiwanis Club.
And, he admits, the thought of making such a rigorous trip at his age can sometimes be overwhelming.
“I must admit I have more than my share of fear on embarking on this ride,” said the veteran biker, who likes to point out that the circumference of the earth is 24,900 miles and “I’m on my second trip around.”
But fear also can be a motivational factor, he said.
“The fear of failing will drive me to accomplish the riding and fundraising goals that I’ve set,” Mr. Sutter explained. “The primary purpose for this arduous ride is to raise money for Kiwanis’ efforts to aid children. My thoughts during the ride are constantly on the mission to help kids who deserve assistance in life.”
As on all of his Kiwanis fundraising rides, friends and supporters will gather for a traditional coffee kickoff between 8 and 10 a.m., Saturday, June 9, at Hottie’s Coffee at the corner of Mary Street and U.S. 1.
Extensive planning and preparation for what Mr. Sutter calls his “most daring ride” have been ongoing for about nine months.
“My training has involved painful gym workouts, three or four times a week in an effort to be in the best physical shape a 75-year-old man can be for the grueling ride,” he mused. “I may be crazy as some people have suggested, but I am not nuts. I will be prepared.”
That goes for his trusty motorcycle, too.
“The Iron Horse is ready to go, as this rider,” he said. “Damien, owner of the Rusted Wrench Cycles, my good friend and trusted motorcycle mechanic, has carefully gone over the bike and officially certified it for the ride to Alaska.”
Ann Sutter, his wife, has agreed to come out of retirement and will accompany her husband on the exhaustive journey, but in the comfort of the chase car, he said.
The couple will keep a long list of supporters and followers informed about the trip via daily posted emails and on the Kiwanis Facebook page.
Kiwanis Club President Bryan Tudeen said Carl Sutter’s annual motorcycle ride is one of the major fundraising events the club relies on to fund its children’s and education projects.
“Through Carl’s ride and our other fundraising event, Strike it Rich, we raise tens of thousands of dollars each year. It all goes to the benefit of kids in Southeast Volusia,” he said. “This year we will donate $15,000 to our Bob Noss Teacher’s Grants project where we fund teacher projects in Southeast Volusia schools, and we also designate funds for over 30 other projects.
Funds are raised by donors pledging donations of one or two cents per mile or for any other dollar amount.
“The whole idea is to raise money for the kids,” Mr. Sutter said, “It’s for them.”
The veteran biker, who has logged more than 500,000 miles over a 57-year span, completed a 10,771-mile round-trip “long ride” in 2016 to Canada’s Yukon Territory, fortunately, avoiding serious injuries when he had to lay his 2006 Yamaha Roadstar Midnight Silverado down only a hundred yards from the halfway point in Dawson City.
Mr. Sutter was pinned under the big bike after narrowly avoiding a utility pole. He was treated for injuries and began the return trip home a few days later.
A transplanted skier from upstate New York, Mr. Sutter is the self-published author of a novel, “An Iron Horse Saga,” the story of an adventurous cross-country motorcycle ride by “a deeply in love husband and wife.” He and Ann, his wife of 38-years, moved to Florida and New Smyrna Beach to take advantage of the warmer climate and pursue his second passion of motorcycle riding.