It was a simple text, yet it was the start of a life-changing experience. “Hey Paul, do you want to speak in Anchorage or Fairbanks?”
I’d been receiving invitations to speak at events in California as part of a West Coast tour this past June, but riding my bike to Alaska had been on my must-do list for over a decade. It remained the only state on the continent I had not visited by motorcycle. It was hard to believe the message was real. I kept dreading the call saying that riding my motorcycle 4500 miles from my home in New Hampshire to Anchorage was not approved, but the call never came and my Wheels Out West for MS Tour now included Alaska!
I had two months to prepare for this once-in-a-lifetime adventure, and I was equally excited to be sharing my story with hundreds of people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) in eight different cities over the three-week period. I had five days to make the trek to Anchorage, then six days to find Las Vegas. From there, I would visit the Southern California cities of Escondido and Beverly Hills. The following week I would head north, visiting San Luis Obispo, Visalia, and San Francisco, and then up to Eugene, Oregon before heading home.
I spent many hours planning my routes and making sure my Yamaha and all my gear were up to the challenge. After all, just the base route alone was about 13,500 miles and that was a lot of miles for one month—even for me! I turned the event into a fundraiser and had people try to guess my final miles for the month of June.
I try very hard not to think about how MS can foil my plans, whether they are just to walk around the block or ride across the continent.