“I once was told a cure for Multiple Sclerosis was a million miles away, so I figured I would just go get it, and bring it back.” - Longhaulpaul
Riding a motorcycle to me has always been as natural as breathing.
I ride in the freezing winter, I ride in the dreary dark, and I ride in the pounding rain. My NH license plate reads, NOCAR. I own more Aerostich than long sleeve shirts. My wife claims I go through a bike a year on average, I never count. It was about 15 years ago when I found riding to be my meditation, my mindfulness. I rode pretty hard for a few years, joining the Ironbutt Association, rode and did well in a series of endurance events and was lucky enough to ride in both the 2001 and the 2003 IronButt Rallies.
The IronButt Rally is 11 days long and averages 11,000 miles. It is very hard to get an entry, so I only got in by offering to ride a Russian Ural. I was accepted into the “Hopeless Class.” I went all of 250 miles before destroying the first of three engines, and continued to experience 20 or so breakdowns and a freeway crash along the way, but I did finish! At one point I had to fabricate my own pushrod in a hardware store to replace one that had disintegrated! I don’t like to quit, and I don’t like to walk home. My published story, “Against a Slight Breeze” is on my website and has been read and enjoyed by thousands over the years.
I rode a BMW in the 2003 IBR, and finished in the top ten. It was to be my last long distance rally. During the rally, I began to have serious cognitive issues (memory, confusion, executive functioning) as well as a loss of dexterity and strength in my hands and fingers. I chalked it up to the stress of the rally. It would be another year and a half before learning I had been experiencing one of my first major Multiple Sclerosis attacks. Oh, did I mention I have MS?
Although there is no cure for MS, I was put on a disease modifying treatment that I inject every day. Its job is to be a decoy so my immune system attacks it, instead of my brain. I guess that’s a good thing. MS is a progressive autoimmune disease, affecting the central nervous system. I have been lucky to have had only two more attacks in seven years. My symptoms for the most part are hidden and manageable, but the progression is both unpredictable and inevitable. I continued to ride after my diagnosis, mostly just commuting to work. I never thought I would be able to ride long distances again. However, during a ride home from Maryland recently, I had a revelation. My entire life’s plan was recalculated in just a few hundred miles, and my new mission in life was born! I have begun to document one million miles ridden with MS for MS. The Endless Road Tour officially began July 6, 2012.
Every day across the country there are events for MS patients, caregivers and professionals. My mission is to ride to, and speak at, as many as possible, encouraging others with MS to follow their passions. The Tour will also be an odyssey of motorcycle adventures and attempts at setting a few motorcycle endurance records. The Endless Road Tour will chronicle the ride, the road, the life; documenting the journey of one million motorcycle miles, driven by a passion, bringing the message of “finding your own road” to others with Multiple Sclerosis.
September 29, 2012 I set a new world record by riding 1000 miles in under 24 hours on 100 different bikes. In April 2013, I plan to set another record by riding 50,000 miles in 50 days as a major fundraising effort as well for the National MS Society.
Through my riding, my record attempts, my knack for telling stories and overcoming great and impossible challenges, I hope my message gets through. Through my humorous adventures I hope to captivate, teach, and encourage others to get involved, and donate to help find a cure for MS.
Please check out my website www.longhaulpaul.com, sign up for the blog updates, donate, help out, or just show up at one of my events. I’ll be there even if it’s raining.
(This article was originally published in Go For A Ride Magazine, March 2013.Check out the website to see much farther Paul has gone since then.)