50/50 Chance

paul bikes in driveway
Paul’s Yamaha Tenere 700(cc) next to the 50cc 1988 Yamaha DT50

A 50/50 chance sounds much better when you are at the roulette table than it does when you are on the operating table. Should you carry an umbrella when there is a 50% chance of rain?

When I first started using motorcycles to raise awareness and funds for Multiple Sclerosis 12 years ago, I realized I had to come up with crazy ideas to get people interested and willing to open their wallets. Just because I am out trying to document a million miles riding for MS is not enough of an incentive to get people to donate to the charity I work with.

In 2012, I set my first world record by becoming the first rider to ride 1000 miles in under 24 hours while also switching motorcycles 100 times. That first silly world record raised $6,000.

In 2014, I rode a scooter from Boston to Chicago dressed in a powder blue tuxedo. That 1000 miles in under 24 hours was not a record, but certainly got a lot of looks and donations to the charity.

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In 2016, I set my second world record, raising $6000 for charity and earning a place for my bike in the famous Barber Motorsports Museum. I am the only rider to document riding a motorcycle 28 hours all on the same day. I started on November 6th and finished on November 6th. By riding each across all three time zones on the day we set the clocks back an hour, I was able to ride 28 hours and 2000 miles all on one day.

paul rds
Paul and Rob from RDS

In 2018, I raised $28,000 by riding a motorcycle nonstop on a dyno (treadmill for motorized vehicles) live on social media, telethon style.

In 2021, I built a loud obnoxious uncomfortable chopper and set my fourth world record by being the first rider to document the coast to coast in under 50 hours on a custom chopper. I did it the long way, 2900 miles in 46 hours to raise over $20,000 for the charity.

It isn’t easy trying to come up with harder and harder fundraisers that are crazy enough to get people interested, and better yet, to get people to donate.  I have been tossing around a few ideas since my last successful ride and two weeks ago I decided on one of them.

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The Iron Butt Association is the organization that certifies all sorts of rides worldwide. They created the 50CC Quest which is documenting a ride from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean (or vice-versa) in under 50 hours. The ’50′ in 50CC stands for the 50 hours. The  ‘CC’  in 50CC  stands for Coast to Coast. However, when anyone mentions the 50CC ride, people often think the ride is on a 50 cubic centimeter (50cc) minibike or scooter.

paul yamaha 50
50cc 2-stroke 1988 Yamaha DT50

Everyone knows attempting a coast to coast ride on a little scooter would be absurd, and certainly impossible to accomplish in under 50 hours!

Well………….

not exactly everyone……………..

I am officially announcing right here on ABILITY Magazine that my next insane and goofy world record attempt fundraiser will simply be called the 

paul 50 50 go

50/50

That is, coast to coast in under 50 hours on a 50cc motorcycle. 50cc/50hrs

paul post 50

50cc is slightly bigger than the motor in your weed whacker. It is 3 cubic inches. Before you start shaking your head and calling me an idiot, hear me out! I found out that Yamaha made a 50cc 2-stroke motorcycle 30 years ago that was full size, liquid cooled, had a six speed transmission and was known to top out at about 50mph.  The bike was only imported in the US as a dirt bike and for just two years, but in places like Portugal, it was imported for many years. There was even a racing street version overseas. With a little tuning and some magical parts, some claimed it could go even faster.

The shortest route coast to coast in the states is from Jacksonville Beach in Florida to Dog Beach in San Diego, California. The route is 2400 miles on Interstate 10. If you divide the miles by 50 hours, you realize one has to average 48 miles per hour to complete the challenge.

Now, on a modern street bike, just by flowing at the posted speed limit, a rider can finish the ride with plenty of fuel and rest breaks and even include a full 8 hours of sleep.

However, in order for me to set a new world record for smallest bike to finish the 50CC, my 1988 Yamaha DT50 has to be fast enough to be safe in traffic and fast enough so I can stop for gas and hopefully an hour or two of rest. The faster we can get the bike travel (without blowing up) , the more time I have for stops. I have recruited a bunch of mechanics and mad scientists who are building me a 50cc motor that hopefully will reach speeds of 60-65mph!

We have lots of work ahead, the bike I found and bought was in great shape but still had the original tires on it! The 6 volt electrical system will not be safe for highway driving at night, so I am converting it to 12 volt so I can use modern lighting. Extra fuel, a better suspension and bigger mirrors will all help for the ride as well.

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paul plate 50

I met Ricky Kunha through Youtube and as a kid in Portugal he became an expert on these small 2-stroke Yamaha’s. Now as an engine builder and tech for the largest motorsport dealer in New Jersey, he has a machine shop and the skills to build really fast motorcycles. He is doing all the engine building work before we send the parts to a company in California. Josh from CryoHeat quickly volunteered their services to Cryo treat the engine parts which will make them 30% stronger after a deep freeze. Faster, stronger, lighter, what could possibly go wrong?

I don’t have a date yet for the ride attempt, as I will need to make several runs to test the engine at a variety of altitudes and speeds. Please watch my social media channels for updates as this attempt progresses.

I’m confident we will get the bike to go fast enough, but will it hold up for 50 hours at 11,000 rpm? I am removing all unnecessary weight and slimming down the bike’s width to be more aerodynamic, but will I be able to lose my beer belly so I can carry 10 pounds of extra fuel and oil?

Having a progressive disease like MS that can rob me of my mobility at any time has given me opportunities to take risks and attempt crazy challenges that I might otherwise pass on. I am excited and thankful for the help I have received with this ride, and I know my friends and followers will support yet another one of my idiotic fundraiser ideas.

paul dog

Yes, this world record attempt is a long shot, but by calling it the 50/50, clearly the odds of making it are in my favor!

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