For most of his life, Vice President of Professional Services Matt Foresman, MA, has counted on two wheels to take him where he wants to go. As a child, he rode his bicycle around his Kansas City, KS, neighborhood, and as an adult, he used a bicycle as a triathlete. “After years of huffing and puffing as a runner and cyclist with motorcycles passing me, I decided to try riding,” Matt laughed.
A weekend training class convinced Matt to purchase a motorcycle. He’s now on his second bike, a Kawasaki C1400. For Matt, his bike is an outlet for his competitive nature. Instead of pushing himself as a triathlete, he now tests his endurance and mental stamina by sometimes riding over 1,000 miles in less than 24 hours. He only stops for gas and food, no sleeping.
On a Mission
During Matt’s marathon trips, he rides with a purpose–to benefit charity. He logs hundreds of miles as he raises money for veterans’ organizations. On one ride, called Tour of Honor, he traveled throughout Missouri to locate seven preselected sites that memorialized veterans. In the 2016 event, Matt was the first rider to visit all seven sites.
Quick action gave him the advantage over his competitors. “I was at my computer when the race opened at midnight on April 1,” Matt remembered. “I loaded the destinations in my GPS and started riding at 1 a.m., and I got home at 11 p.m. that night.” A week later, he did the same thing in North Dakota and South Dakota.
What drives him? “I guess it’s the reward system of winning combined with my competitiveness,” he said. In 2016, Matt finished eight rides for a total of 10,000 miles.
Not all of Matt’s riding centers around fundraising. Sometimes he identifies a place to visit and he just goes, like when he traveled to Canada and back in just over a day.
He rides year-round and enjoys traveling at night. His bike is specially equipped with accessories to make his travel as safe as possible. The adjustable wind screen helps shield him from the elements; his headlight is nearly four times the brightness of a standard headlight; and when it’s cold, he wears heated socks, gloves and a jacket. In fact, he’s been stopped by police officers who were intrigued by his bike’s appearance.
Matt admits riding all those miles takes a toll on his body. “I am always impacted by the wind, exposed to the weather and sit in a static position without the ability to stretch, but it’s worth it for the places I get to see.”
In his travels, Matt’s experienced his share of close calls with deer and cars, but thanks to well-practiced skills and “what if” planning, he’s remained unscathed. While riding, he keeps his head clear during all those “mindless” miles. He’s always aware of his surroundings and often listens to music or satellite radio, which don’t distract him. When he’s traveling in urban areas or on a curvy road, he turns everything off to improve his concentration.
Motorcycle safety is always top-of-mind for Matt, which makes him a great teacher. He now teaches the same class that he once took as a beginning rider. “I can’t make someone a safer rider, but I can make that person a better rider who understands the risks,” he explained. Certified riders typically enjoy a savings on their insurance and some states legally require the class.
Matt cites statistics from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) that many current riders don’t have any formal training. Besides not having formal training, another challenge is weather that typically allows only six months for riding. “If you don’t practice your basic motorcycle skills, those skills degrade,” said Matt. He reestablishes muscle memory by doing drills before he rides.
Matt’s interest in rider safety has evolved into a position as a MSF certified RiderCoach and so far, he’s taught more than 10 classes over the last year. He recently taught four classes in seven days and plans to expand his teaching in 2018. “I have turned into a motorcycle nerd,” he laughed.