BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – Patrick Romeo, a retired firefighter and Air Force veteran, is riding in the Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge for 10,000 miles with the hope of raising $10,000 for other veterans.
That’s a long distance but the Boardman man prefers it.
“I think it’s easier riding 10,000 miles on a motorcycle than hiking, running and swimming some god-awful miles,” Romeo said. “I enjoy riding, I enjoy long-distance riding and I normally ride by myself, solo rider. I have no problem getting on a bike and going.”
He’s riding for Resurrecting Lives Foundation out of Dublin, Ohio, which advocates for veterans with traumatic brain injuries.
“They’re not supporting my ride in any way. I am taking care of the bill for the ride, so every penny that’s raised goes to the organization,” Romeo said. “Eighty cents or more per dollar actually goes to the veterans. Very little is used for administrative costs.”
Some of the rules of the ride include not being allowed to use GPS or sleeping inside — you sleep with your bike wherever you can.
You’re given turn-by-turn instructions to various checkpoints and it all starts in Panama City Beach, Florida at 6 a.m. Sunday.
“A lot of guys will use ball fields, they’ll use the dugouts because it gives them some shelter,” Romeo said. “Churches, post office. Being a retired firefighter, my thought is to, hopefully, use fire stations. Possibly get a shower, cup of coffee.”
He is also bringing a one-man tent, sleeping bag and air mattress. While the bike ride mostly entails the rider and the road, Hoka Hey is doing its part to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
“They’ve cut back the starting field to 100 bikes but they’ve already split it into two groups of 50,” Romeo said. “When we get down there, they’re going to assign us starting times and we’ll head out in smaller groups.”
He also said he is bringing masks with him and Hoka Hey will let them know of any changes or closings along the way.
“Riding a motorcycle by yourself, you don’t get much more socially distant than that, staying in a tent in the middle of a ball field,” Romeo said.
Three checkpoints Romeo is aware of so far include Santa Fe, New Mexico, Barre, Vermont and another in Arkansas. The ride will conclude back in Panama City Beach.
To donate, visit resurrectinglives.org or text HOKA HEY to 44321.
Romeo hopes to finish the ride in about 14 days but riders can take as long as they want.
“There’s not really a time frame, which is what makes it a little bit easier,” he said. “You’re not racing against anybody else, so you can ride at what is safest for you.”
To follow Patrick’s journey visit his Facebook page.
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