A Million Miles and Counting
Story from March 2023 edition of American Motorcyclist
Donald Deuel has dashed up, down and across North America on his way to a million miles
March 8, 2023
By Keaton Maisano
As Donald Deuel hopped off his maroon 2019 Honda Goldwing 1800 to stop for a frozen treat last September in Wyoming, he was ready to celebrate.
The celebration was not for a birthday, an anniversary or a promotion…but rather, recognition of a milestone the 79-year-old had worked nearly half a century to achieve: to ride a million miles on motorcycles.
“It was about 30 or 40 miles before I had the million,” Deuel recounted, “and I told [my friend Greg Hintz] we’re going to be real close to Rawlins, and I’m going to pull off the road and I’m going to take my picture. It just happened that I pulled off and saw this Department of Transportation sign, and I couldn’t believe it.”
“I almost couldn’t believe I made my goal,” Deuel added. “I was very happy. I went in and had an ice cream cone to celebrate.”
Deuel’s motorcycling odometer began its journey to a million back in the late 1970s aboard a 1977 Suzuki GS750 — the first bike he used to track his miles.
From that point on, his mileage was logged, and Deuel submitted evidence of his hard work when he became a participant in the AMA LongRider program, which rewards riders for hitting annual and lifetime mileage milestones.
Like Deuel, AMA members can participate in the program by filling out the application found at AmericanMotorcyclist.com/LongRider.
A story familiar to many, Deuel’s itch for motorcycling is stitched into his DNA, as it can be traced back to his father and grandfather.
“My Grandpa had a 1911 Indian, and my dad had a ’43 Harley,” Deuel said. “I’ve got it in my blood.”
Long before his million, Deuel’s first mileage target was 100,000 miles — a goal his dad set but never reached.
“I, of course, changed it when I found out I was going to make more and more as I went on,” Deuel said. “Once I got up into the low 1990s, I knew I had a chance to make a million miles,” and that’s when I really put forth my efforts.”
The late 1990s marked Deuel’s move from Colorado to Montana, and it was in Montana where he met and began to ride with his friend Hintz, who accompanied Deuel on his million-mile moment.
Over the years, Deuel rode to work, took vacation trips, participated in 35 Iron Butt Association rides — such as the Ultimate Coast to Coast and 48 states in 10 days — and did whatever else he could to accumulate miles.
While it is staggering to envision the journey to a million miles, it is equally interesting to understand the makeup of the rider willing to work at accomplishing this feat.
Deuel’s background is one of structure, discipline, and achievement. After serving in the Navy after high school, Deuel turned his sights to getting a college education.
It was during his college experience that the 6-foot-4 Deuel, who entered his high school’s Hall of Fame as a basketball player, played hoops at the College of Southern Idaho for Hall of Fame coach Eddie Sutton. No stranger to success and hard work, Deuel said his background aided him in sticking with and accomplishing his motorcycling goals.
“I usually set goals and try to achieve them as hard as I can,” Deuel said.
What made all the hard work and long journeys worth it? For Deuel, it was the people he met along the way.
“All the scenery and different things are awesome,” Deuel said, “but it’s the people that make me want to keep going. Just meeting different people.”
Like his abundance in miles traveled, Deuel has met his fair share of people during his journeys around the continental United States, Alaska, Canada and Mexico.
“The people are so friendly to motorcycle people when you visit their towns,” Deuel added. “They want to look at your bike and know where you’ve been.”
Despite decades of experiences and an 80th birthday in May fast approaching, Deuel’s taste for adventure is as strong as ever, and he plans to ride on two wheels as long as possible.
“I started out with a bucket list,” Deuel said. “I think it was probably around 100. I think it’s over 100 now. Every time I go out I add more things that I haven’t seen, or I see something or somebody tells me about it.”
Onto the next million? Could be.