By the time you read this column, my “new” Yamaha Super Ténéré will have 100,000 miles on the clock, and 80,000 of them accrued in 2017. That averages out to 220 miles every single day of the year. It has certainly been a year of living in the travel lane for me. I shared my story and hopefully inspired a few people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) all the way from January 8th in frigid Newry, Maine, to December 15th in sunny Tampa, Florida. I rode to all 28 MS events this year and crossed the entire country six times!
I was also invited to speak or present at various motorcycle events and trade shows and at the Vintage Festival at the Barber Motorsports Museum. My audience on YouTube and Facebook continues to grow as I try to improve my posts and videos from the road. Next year should be exciting: a new bike is coming soon, and I’ll travel a designated route to Yamaha dealers to hang out and meet local riders, talk about the bike and share my MS journey. Look for updates on my website (longhaulpaul.com), because I may be riding to a bike shop near you!
This year (2017) wasn’t trouble free; I certainly hit a few potholes. One of the companies I used to speak for is no longer using patients at their programs, so opportunities for me to speak were cut in half. These events provide the miles I log for MS as well as compensation, so it was both a financial and a mileage loss. A sponsor who assured me would be a sure bet turned out to drop the ball and back out, leaving me without funding for some of my planned rides this coming year. My savings are dwindling, home improvements are being neglected and my ability to continue to afford this ride are in question. I’ve spent more days and nights away from home this year, which has also been hard on my marriage. I am amazed that my wife continues to support my journey. She is a saint!
The hours of high speeds, long days in the saddle, long weeks on the road, and years of long distance riding are all taking a toll on my body—from a scratchy throat that never clears up caused by fumes and rubber irritants on the highways to sore wrists and arms from repetitive motions. My shoulders, neck, back, knees and butt all suffer from continual 15-hour days on a vibrating machine. My kidneys are spitting out stones like a jammed gumball machine, and my optometrist claims I have the driest eyes she has ever seen. My bladder causes me more problems than I care to explain. Eating well while traveling is a constant struggle between what I can carry from home and what I can find cheap or fast. I often skip meals and find it hard to keep hydrated when the temperature makes it difficult to open my face shield. Exercising as a regular routine is almost impossible, and my physique is showing evidence of that. Sure, life on the road is new and exciting, but it is also challenging and hard.
Thankfully my MS symptoms have been kept in check, no doubt to the disease-modifying medication I have been taking for 12 years, and my drive to continue riding until my million-mile goal is met. My symptoms only seem to bother me when I stop. Therefore, I need to hit the travel lane once again, riding, reaching out and raising a little hell along my journey, Chasing the Cure for Multiple Sclerosis.
See you down the road.