Long Haul Paul takes a chopper on a record breaking ride for MS

Long Haul Paul with a Chopper
Long Haul Paul with his custom built Yamaha chopper — a 50 hour coast to coast challenge fundraiser

On July 12th, I managed to set my fourth and probably my dumbest world record and another successful fundraiser for people living with Multiple Sclerosis.

With donations from Yamaha, Bridgestone, Low and Mean, Denali Electronics, Aerostich, Rob’s Dyno and Baxter’s Garage, I built a custom chopper from a Yamaha Bolt. With the paint still wet, I rode it 2930 miles across the entire country in under 50 hours, becoming the first rider to document the Iron Butt Association‘s extreme 50CC Gold challenge on a raked out custom chopper.

The attempt was made possible with help from family and friends and a few new friends like Jeremy Loveall. I knew Jeremy only from seeing his posts on Facebook. He is a member of the long distance rider community, but also posted pictures of interesting metal projects he and his students created. He is a beloved welding shop teacher at Franklin-Simpson High School In Kentucky. Jeremy was quick to answer my plea for help. I needed a custom gas tank and a bunch of other stuff welded and assembled if I was to pull this stunt off. Riding almost 3000 miles in two days on a motorcycle, not made for the long haul, required stopping as little as possible and being able to maintain freeway speeds for long hours at a time. The stock gas tank was three gallons and the low fuel light lit up every 80 miles. Getting off the highway to get gas every hour would have cost about 10 hours and would have made the attempt impossible.

Jeremy crafted a 5 1/2 gallon tank for the bike which allowed me a 200 mile range, saving me about 6 hours! He also built me a sissy bar, helped with extending the forks and wiring up the lights. A man I never met in person lent me his pick-up truck, fed me and even had me picked up at the airport an hour away on the day I came to get the chopper. I am truly indebted to my new friend.

I decided to start the ride in Wilmington North Carolina, at Wrightsville Beach on the Atlantic Ocean. It was 2900 miles away from San Francisco, where I planned to finish. 2900 miles coast to coast qualifies for the Gold version of the ride, also know as coast to coast the hard way!

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The date was chosen to coincide with the International Motorcycle Shows first event of the season in Sonoma California, where I was presenting seminars. As both my bikes would be on display in the Yamaha tent, I first needed to get my Tenere 700 to Sonoma from New Hampshire.

I left Wednesday July 8th, rode 3100 miles and arrived in Northern California three days later. I boarded a flight for Kentucky to get the chopper as Jeremy was finishing the final coat of paint. I made some final adjustments and rode the chopper to the North Carolina coast, getting in to my hotel about midnight. My friend Jim was already there, waiting to be my official witness for the start of my attempt.

Originally Jim was going to sign my documents and then ride with me for a couple hours to see me out of North Carolina. After about three minutes however, he sent me a text that read, “That damn Motorcycle is too loud I’m heading home.” “Well, it is a Choppa baby,” was my reply.

The first few hours and first couple hundred miles were pretty uneventful. Eventually my tailbone started to hurt because the bike basically had zero suspension and the seat was basically a piece of leather laying on the frame of the bike!

After the first 12 hours the seat was actually getting an indentation from my butt slamming violently down on it after hitting any sort of bump or crack in the road.

After all, it’s a Choppa baby.

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By the end of the first day I had ridden 1500 miles in about 20 hrs. and I decided to take a break. I slept on the ground next to my bike in a quiet rest area just east of Amarillo Texas. About an hour and a half later I woke up and continued on the ride. As I got closer to California the temperature began to rise. 100°, 110° and eventually 115° going through the desert!

A few people were waiting for me in San Francisco and they kept wondering when I would arrive. I was doing my best but as it got dark my headlight was bouncing and aiming in the wrong direction. My face shield was dirty, my glasses were dirty and my new specialty contact lens which allowed me to ride at night was also dirty. I had no choice but to stop repeatedly to clean them.

I was determined and I knew that I could make it to San Francisco in less than 50 hours. I actually arrived in San Francisco at 11:30 PM and with a couple raps on the open pipes, I pulled into the gas station. I was greeted with champagne and a giant congratulations sign! I got my all important gas receipt recording my time, had my mileage verified by a witnesses and then it was time to go to bed!

The Nut on a Bolt fundraiser was a great success. The Chopper will be displayed at all of the International Motorcycle Shows through November and the raffled off from all who donated. Speaking of donations, this record attempt raised $16,000 for people living with multiple sclerosis.


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