Long Haul Paul — Spare Part or Art?

Long Haul Paul
After six years on the road, my body finally cried uncle and forced me to take a breather for a few weeks. I had been having issues with my arms and neck—pain and numbness—mostly for a few years. Around December of last year, I began to have weakness in my right arm, specifically the inability to raise a beer mug to even shoulder height, which was very, very concerning to me! I knew it was spine related, not a lesion from my Multiple Sclerosis (MS). An MRI proved me right, and two weeks ago I received a shiny new titanium brace in my neck, some cadaver bone particles and a nice scar across my neck. I had a procedure done that fused a handful of my cervical vertebrae called an Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion.

Long Haul Paul
Luckily, I had a busy July and August, putting in over 13,000 miles before the surgery on my new Yamaha Star Venture. I realized the new bike, donated by Yamaha, is going to work great for the next quarter million miles of my intended goal of riding one million MS miles. It handles great, rides comfortably long distance and has a ton of great options that help make each ride enjoyable. The V-twin motor pulls like a tractor and is just plain fun to ride, fast or slow. It’s going to feel like cheating!

This left me with a big dilemma. Originally, I was expecting to keep my other bike, the Yamaha Super Tenere, as sort of a back-up spare, but struggling to pay my travel expenses and a lack of paid speaking opportunities this year led me to the conclusion I should sell bike 2 or Curechaser II, as it is now called. (I only name my bikes after I stop riding them). With 122,000 miles on Curechaser II, I did not expect to get much for it. As I was talking to a friend about what I should do, he reminded me that I was an idiot, and should raffle off the bike. He said people would be interested in owning a piece of my story and would be glad to know the proceeds would go toward paying my bills.

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“You do know your first bike, which looks just like this one, is in a museum, surrounded by armed guards and cameras, being admired for its place in motorcycle history by about a million visitors a year, right?” he said.

I never ask for donations for myself, but this idea was different. Raffle participants were buying a chance to own something worth much more than they paid, and I would end up with more money than if I tried to sell the bike.

And so the plan was hatched.

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I decided to offer the bike up to the winner of such raffle, with a limit of just 122 tickets available, each having a donation price of $100. Each of the 122 tickets represents the thousand miles of service the bike delivered to me without a single issue. And the $12,200 raised would sure help pay some of this year’s unpaid bills. Today, as I write this article, 122 tickets will be available at high noon. I suspect they will be sold within a few hours, and I will then draw a winner live on social media.

The winner, in addition to getting the motorcycle with all its customized options and accessories, will receive a copy of all of the ABILITY articles and other magazine stories that featured the motorcycle. Copies of pictures, videos, news reports and even my helmet adorned with the Longhaulpaul logos are included. The deal also includes having me deliver the bike to the winner’s home—anywhere in the continental USA (I’m hoping they will give me a ride to the closest airport afterwards).
Excited about the plan, this weekend I repaired a few items that needed attention on the bike, changed all the fluids and replaced the tires. I did not wash it, but did a short video about the raffle while walking around the machine that had been sitting still for the last eight weeks.

I was not prepared for the emotions I felt and had to retake the video at one point. This bike was not going to be in my garage ever again, and I may never know where it ends up for all eternity!

I don’t usually get attached to bikes. I’ve had 40 of them over the years, and because the last two were basically the same exact models, it wasn’t hard to swap them out. Now that I am riding a totally different style of bike, I was sad. I almost had second thoughts about the raffle all together. I will miss Curechaser II, as it added another 122,000 miles to my incredible journey without a single hiccup, and I also had a bit of worry that its true future is so unknown.

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Will it be stripped of its decals and accessories, normalized and just ridden? Will it just be used for spare parts for a newer bike because it has so many hard miles on it? Will it find its way to a private collector’s garage? Will it be on display at a Yamaha dealership in Iowa? Or will it make its way to another motorcycle museum to be viewed by thousands?

My neck brace is itchy and the clock is ticking loudly because in just a few hours, I may just know the answer!

CurechaserMile Marker 330,251


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