Wheelie is something every biker
loves to attempt, all over the world. But then wheelies are done over a short
distance and take as little as a few seconds or at the most a few minutes. But
in Japan, a rider by the name of Masaru Abe did a wheelie for over 13 hours on
his Yamaha Jog scooter and in the process smashed the world record for a
continuous wheelie at the Kawaguchi Auto Race facility in Saitama, Japan.
And in these 13 odd hours, Abe
never stopped once while doing his wheelie and covered a distance of
500.5322km. Yes, more than 500 km! In the process, he obliterated the distance
of 331.0195km, set by motorcycle trials rider Yasuyuki Kudo in 1991, but fell
short of his own 600km target.
For those who are not familiar
with the word wheelie, it is like a stunt where you manage to keep the front
wheel of your vehicle in the air while
you are seated on it. Abe’s 500km plus distance wheelie is l same distance as
it takes from London to Cologne or, Stateside, from New York to Pittsburgh.
Bike shop owner and prop man
Ishii played the role of mechanic and director. Abe finally lifted off with a
wave of the Japanese national flag at 7:09am. Although the track was
oval-shaped, Abe maintained a speed of 40kph through excellent body balance and
throttle work for lap after lap (688.495m per lap) with 39.2km achieved after
the first hour.
Abe experienced lower back
pain and had to down painkillers just after two hours into wheelie. The
painkillers had actually been earmarked for six hours later. Former two-time
125cc world champion Haruchika Aoki arrived four hours in to lend Abe support.
Aoki revealed, “I would never be able to perform wheelies with control on a
weak 4-stroke 125cc scooter. This course is also known as being especially
windy. The vehicles on the course can be engulfed in powerful wind. With the
slopes on the track, I think just holding a wheelie is difficult enough.”
Abe, though, powered by
practice runs of over 10 hours and a pre-race visit to see Kudo for motivation
(which involved 22 hours straight driving) carried on bravely. Aged 33, the
same as Kudo when he set his own record, Abe finally passed his compatriot’s
mark at 3:28pm - eight hours, 18 minutes and 43 seconds in. He raised his left
arm in victory and pointed to the sky to huge cheers from the assembled crowd.
After 12 hours, Abe was crying
out in pain and shouting, “It hurts! I hate this! I want to stop,” followed by
words of encouragement to himself, “You got this, don’t stop!” The pain finally
became too much over an hour later, Abe bringing his front wheel down at a
breathtaking distance of 500.5322km to more than earn the name Wheelie King.
Abe explained, “If I didn’t go
further than what I thought my own limit was, then someone else would. I
thought if I were going to try to break the record, then I would have to post
unattainable numbers that would leave people speechless. That was the most pain
I have ever felt. Both of my arms were numb from the pain and I had lost
feeling in them. My vision was blurred... I was only partially conscious. I was
completely dehydrated. I’d never experienced that before.”
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