From St. Albert to Argentina
Local man plans 30,000 kilometre motorcycle ride for spinal cord awareness
Wednesday, Jun 26, 2013 06:00 am
Dave Ranson’s butt is going to be sore, but it’s a small price to pay for saving so many other people’s necks. He’s about to embark upon a motorcycle trip the likes of which he’s never undertaken.
“I’ve done long distances but I’ve never spent this much time away from home,” he said, referring to a few two or three week excursions.
The local man is fine-tuning his motorcycle’s engine in advance of an extended road trip starting later this summer. His map charts out a course covering 30,000 kilometres, zigzagging through 16 countries in North, Central and South America before landing him in the city of Ushuaia, Argentina, commonly regarded as the southernmost city in the world.
“It’s not really a straight line from St. Albert to the city of Ushuaia,” he admits.
His Prairies to Penguins trip is as far as anyone can go heading toward the South Pole before dropping into the ocean right next to Antarctica. He’s pretty much riding the spine of the combined continents, an apt visual reminder of why he’s making the trek in the first place.
Ranson was inspired a few years ago when his brother-in-law took a bad spill off his mountain bike and broke his neck. Luckily, he was riding with a friend who was a former lifeguard who resuscitated him and managed to get cellphone reception in the secluded area so that emergency help could arrive in short order.
“It was quite an ordeal. Until that point I didn’t even know really that much about spinal cord injuries. We didn’t even know if he’d ever walk again, let alone live. Eventually, he’s walking, driving … 95 per cent back to where he was. Incredible!”
During that time, he also learned of a young man who had a similar story but with a less fortunate outcome.
“He was riding his motorcycle from Portland to South America. Only a couple of weeks into his trip, he ran into a donkey and ended up being a permanent quadriplegic. Between reading about people with spinal cord injuries and reading about people doing this kind of a trip, I thought, ‘why not put the two together and do a fundraiser?’”
He is using the journey as a way of driving attention toward research into these injuries while trying to amass $10,000 for the Spinal Cord Injury Treatment Centre (Northern Alberta) Society. The Edmonton-based non-profit organization was formed more than 25 years ago by people with spinal cord injuries and their families as a way of promoting public awareness of these injuries. It also works to create opportunities to enhance the quality of life for the injured through support, education and research. The society’s website (at www.scitcs.org) states its motto as “never say never.”
Ranson’s dream is to raise enough money for a bionic exoskeleton, an objective that prompted him to nickname his ride Skelly. The public can follow his mental, physical and motorcyclical preparations on his website at www.prairiestopenguins.com, where people can also make donations to the cause.
He’ll also be blogging on the site as he puts another 30,000 clicks on his odometer. He’s just not sure how he’s getting back from Ushuaia. Once he gets to his end destination, he’ll decide how to return, potentially shipping the motorcycle by plane as he rests in a more comfortable seat.
“It’s not very glamorous, the getting back part,” he said. “It’s the getting there that’s the adventure.”