The Brotherhood of MS

Side image of Long Haul Paul in motion. Brotherhood of traveling underwear.

For the past 75 years, while most of the country transitions into spring by swapping out snow shovels for garden hoes, a bazillion bikers from all over the country migrate to Daytona Beach for Bike Week. For most, it’s a ritual that starts by giving up shaving for a week or two, dusting off the leather patched vests and polishing up the bikes before loading them onto trailers for the pilgrimage, even if it’s just an hour away.

I understand not everyone rides their motorcycle like I do, I honestly do, but there was a time when out of state folks would at least pretend to ride to Daytona by parking their trailers in an empty lot a couple hundred miles north and trying to hit every puddle on the ride into town to at least appear like they were riders. As I sit here in the hotel lobby typing this column, I count 40 trailers in the lot, twice the number of bikes! While wondering if the 18” of snow that fell at my house in New Hampshire yesterday would be cleared by the time I roll back into my driveway, I get to listen to three men discuss the tricks and techniques for backing up a trailer.

For the past six years, I have made the trip from New Hampshire to Daytona oddly on two wheels and planned to do so again this year, leaving directly following a patient speaker conference I was attending in Boston. My good friend Scott was driving down to Daytona Beach and had agreed to take some of my stuff down in his car. I now sell T-shirts to help pay my travel expenses, and I wanted to have a few dozen available in Daytona so I dropped them and some extra clothes off at his house a few days before I left.

The conference was put on by a pharmaceutical company, and although it involved compliance and skills training, it was an opportunity for the company to acknowledge and celebrate the important part patient speakers play in helping others cope with their multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis and symptoms. For us, it’s a chance to visit and hear each other’s stories.

Between training and eating fabulous meals, I watched with increased intensity the snow and frigid temperatures that crept over New England. The conference ended at noon on Saturday, and as I was preparing my winter gear for the ride to Daytona, I realized my special and very favorite extreme cold weather long johns were missing from my luggage. Clearly a brilliant move of mine to pack my thermal underwear in with clothes I’d left at my friend’s house, now in the trunk of his car and eight hours into his trip to Florida.

As I emerged from the $50 per night underground parking garage and crossed the cobblestone sidewalk onto the street, my bike’s thermometer read 11 degrees. I cranked up my heated jacket and gloves, pointed my head into the 40 mph wind and found my way to the highway. ...
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