The electric ride

Summer 2016

Ben Rich ’99

Ben Rich '99 standing by his electric motorcycle on the cover of American MotorcyclistGas prices are always a hot topic in summertime when travel is on the rise. Not that Ben Rich ’99 had much to sweat about when he did his three-country North American tour last summer. Transportation cost him a mere $52.69. That covered charging fees for his Zero SR electric motorcycle, as he explained in his trip recap for the February 2016 issue of American Motorcyclist.

“Riding the open road is a treasure and a mystery waiting to be experienced,” he wrote. This was his third consecutive summer dedicated to a long-distance ride.

Cruising from Washington, D.C., south to Mexico, and looping up to Canada, Rich traveled 6,800 miles last summer while on break from his job as sustainability coordinator and physics teacher at Montclair Kimberley Academy (N.J.). He charged his bike at RV parks and car dealerships, and bunked with friends — making new friends along the way.

On Skyline Drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, he chatted with some firefighters on sport bikes who noticed he didn’t make any noise while pulling off the road.

In Charleston, S.C., it was only fitting that Rich, a former swing dance instructor, whirled into a ’20s-themed bar to do the dance named after the city.

Then, when crossing the U.S.-Mexican border back into the United States, Rich answered more questions from agents about his motorcycle than about the purpose of his trip. “Nice guys,” he noted.

And while winding up “the Trace” — a national parkway from Natchez, Miss., to Nashville, Tenn. — Rich’s quiet ride did not disturb the fauna. Stopping in a wooded area, “there were two or three birds calling to each other, and that was all that could be heard,” he wrote. “I took a moment to appreciate the silence.”

He made it to his northernmost point — Montreal — just in time for an afternoon social dance at a park near the St. Lawrence River.

Heading home to New Jersey, coasting through the Adirondacks felt like his victory lap, Rich said. He’d made it relying on two batteries, people’s hospitality, and the wind at his back.

— Aleta Mayne