Road warrior

Racking up the miles revs up support for children.

Story Lori Roberts

Say what you want about men and motorcycles, but when the rubber hits the road, Carl Sutter is raising money for Kiwanis.

The 76-year-old has made seven long-distance rides to raise money for children through the Southeast Volusia County Kiwanis Club. He covers all personal expenses (gas, lodging, etc.) and solicits pledges that go directly to the club. Each ride has raised about US$5,000.

His first trip was a 5,500-mile coast-to-coast journey from his home in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, to San Diego and back. The next trip took him from Florida to Seattle, Washington. Subsequent rides included a trip around Florida, a trip to Nova Scotia, a venture to Yukon territory and “A Superior Ride” from Florida to Michigan, around Lake Superior and back home.

While Sutter rides solo, his wife, Ann, is his chase-car driver, carrying his gear and keeping an eye on him. Sutter is on one of his two Yamaha Roadstar Silverados, riding through all sorts of weather as the couple gets to see the country while raising Kiwanis funds.

That’s not to say there haven’t been mishaps. After the first ride, Sutter went to his doctor and discovered his coronary artery was 90 percent blocked and needed a stent. During another trip, a bee made its way into Sutter’s wraparound sunglasses, resulting in a swollen eye. Ann thought the trip should be over. Sutter said, “Oh baloney” and procured some ice from a fast food restaurant.

His trip to Alaska was a bit scarier. Due to a combination of fatigue and mechanical problems, Sutter dropped the bike about 200 yards from his midway destination. Emergency room doctors feared he’d punctured a lung, but his ribs were the only casualty.

“One of the toughest rides was coming home 5,200 miles with cracked ribs,” Sutter says.

But if the kids benefit, Sutter wants to keep it up. He’s written a few books about his travels, and he sends out a nightly email during each trip to those who have sponsored him. By his estimation, he’s traversed the equivalent of the Earth’s circumference twice. He has even started wearing a helmet, although he says that’s more because his hairline is thinning: He wants to avoid a sunburn.

He expects to motor somewhere next year, most likely during the month of June. After that, who knows?

“I’m hoping (to ride) until I’m 80 or 90,” Sutter says. “I’ll take 80 first, and then if I get 90, that will be frosting on the cake.”

This story originally appeared in the December 2019 issue of Kiwanis magazine.

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