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An ICON Award for a BMW Icon

by Andy Dukes

A great motorcycle is only as good as its rider, and fortunately many of the world's most passionate riders insist on buying BMW bikes for their 'sheer riding pleasure'. All over the globe BMW owners can be seen riding across countries and even continents just to see how far they can go and to discover what is around the next corner.

Dave Swisher, the million mile man

Dave Swisher, million mile man

Legendary riders such as Norwegian Helge Pedersen travelled over 250,000 miles - more than ten times the actual distance around the world - on his trusty GS during his ten-year journey across five continents. And Argentinean rider Emilio Scotto travelled a massive 460,000 miles (the equivalent of a round trip to the moon) from 1985 to 1995 through 279 countries. But surely there can't be many riders who can claim to have ridden more than a million miles. or can there?

Several years ago, BMW owner Dave Swisher became the first motorcyclist in the world to ride one million miles (1.6-million kilometres) on BMW bikes - an incredible achievement in itself - but he has obviously been spending a lot more time in the saddle since then as he has recently clocked up a staggering 1,400,000 miles (2,250,000 km). To put this in perspective, this is the equivalent of riding for 973 days and nights (or over two-and-a-half years) at a constant speed of 60 mph (100 km/h).

BMW Motorrad USA's Laurence Kuykendall - who had presented David with the very first Million Mile Award ever given under the BMW Motorcycles High Mileage Award programme - returned to give David a very special `BMW Icon' award in recognition of his latest amazing achievement.

"We always try to recognise riders whose loyalty to the BMW brand complements our relentless pursuit of creating the perfect two-wheeled machine, and until I met David, we'd given hundreds of bronze medallions and certificates to BMW owners who'd proven their dedication to the brand by riding them a minimum of 100,000 miles. Our BMW High Mileage Awards are modelled on the medallions provided by BMW Motorrad in Germany during the 1920s and 30s for high kilometre riders, but when David achieved a million miles, we realised something special would be required because a medallion, however nice, would hardly be enough for such a massive achievement.

"So for that occasion we created a special award using a solar-powered Boxer engine and I had the pleasure of presenting it to David in person. Since then, David has also received his 1,100,000, 1,200,000 and 1,300,000 mile awards, and each one of these awards had to be specially designed, because each milestone was an achievement unprecedented by any other BMW (or other) rider that we know of. But there comes a time when it's not just about how many miles you ride, but what kind of rider you are - and David is one of those motorcyclists whose decency, good spirits and love of riding are an inspiration to others. So, as a direct result of the challenge we faced in keeping up with David, we devised a BMW ICON Award modelled on Ernest Henne - one of the greatest BMW riders ever."


The BMW ICON Award

The BMW ICON Award recognises riders who have made unusual or even extraordinary contributions to the BMW motorcycle brand. Hand-cast in bronze by noted Ohio sculptor Ric Stewart, no two ICON Awards are the same, due to the nature of the casting process, and the personalised inscriptions.

David Swisher's BMW ICON Award was presented to him by dealer principal Jeff Massey and BMW Motorrad USA's Laurence Kuykendall at the Virginia-based Morton's BMW Open House event earlier this month. This time, however, the award wasn't just about riding so many miles (as impressive as this is) but also for providing such an inspiration to at least two generations of BMW riders.

Dave Swisher (center) BMW 1.4 Million Mile ICON Award Winner

Although he is now 77-years-old, David actually began riding BMWs in 1973 at the tender age of 43. His current fleet comprises a pair of K 1100 LT models - one with over 100,000 miles on it and the other with more than 200,000 miles on it. A lifelong dairy and grain farmer who once joked that he "had to sell the cows because they were getting in the way of his riding", David is living proof that age isn't defined by the physical frame but by attitude, which in his case is forever youthful.

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This feature originally appeared in December 2007 - Updated: 01/18/13

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Updated on: 01/18/13 at 15:50 CST