You would think meeting racing legends and top corporate executives in the motorcycle industry would warrant a good story, but, unfortunately, this adventure is about surviving a lodging experience at what will herein be referred to as “The Resort.”
The AIMExpo is an international trade show, held once a year in Orlando, Florida, for all that is motorcycle. Manufacturers unveil their new models and concept bikes, while aftermarket companies bring their A game and try to lure new retailers and customers.
For me, AIMExpo was an opportunity to share my story with companies and manufacturers from across the globe, meet potential sponsors and chase leads on speaking opportunities.
Captain Kirk helped me book a few nights at a motel close to the convention center. I wasn’t going for ambiance, as I just needed a cheap place to sleep. I rode the 1400 miles to Orlando and checked in. I was beyond exhausted and barely noticed the squad cars partially blocking the parking lot or the people hanging out in the shadows. While walking around the building looking for my room, a sheet of water cascaded over the balcony above barely missing my head. It wasn’t raining, so I stepped out a bit to witness a guy squeegeeing the carpet from a room on the second floor. “Thank you,” I waved.
I strong-armed my way into my room; evidence of multiple forced entries lined the door jam. The room was very basic but appeared neat. I took a shower and attempted to use the phone to call the front desk. The remote did nothing, and the TV didn’t seem to have any cable wires going to it. Unfortunately, the phone was missing a few parts, such as buttons with numbers. I tried to look up the hotel on the Internet, only to find that the free Wi-Fi advertised online was only free after paying a one-time fee of $14.95 per night. I switched on my phone’s cellular data and began to read the reviews posted about this “Resort.” I quickly decided to return to the parking lot and strip my bike of everything valuable or shiny.
I convinced myself angry prima donnas and rival establishments had written the reviews; no motel could have so many horrible reviews and still be in business, right? The bad reviews shared a common theme of identity theft, missing electronics and diminishing bath towels. The last review I read was, “RUN AWAY, NOW.”
Completely exhausted, I turned off my phone, closed my eyes and fell instantly to sleep.
At half past midnight, a pounding on my door and a peek out the window brought my first encounter with the Orlando Police Department. I unlocked the deadbolt and creaked out, “Yes?”
“Are you Longhaulpaul?”
Now, to be fair, I had just ridden 18 hours straight, and my cognitive deficiencies from multiple sclerosis (MS) have been well documented, so was I wrong to think the paparazzi had found me?
“Isn’t it a little late for an autograph?”
The officer chuckled and held up a set of keys.