“The charity component is the most important part of the ride for me,” said Ellis, an Asheville, N.C., surgeon and co-Medical Director at medAge. “This came at a very important time in my life. I turned 50 this year. My husband and I have been talking for the last two years about how we can give back. We’ve worked hard all of our lives … I think being open to opportunities like this at this point in our lives is important; not only being open, but responding.”
Troy Rice, an IT business owner and Charlotte, N.C.-based entrepreneur, brings four years of riding experience along for the trek, looking in some ways for a simple escape from the every day.
“It’s the fellowship of getting out in the middle of nowhere,” Rice said. “There is nobody that can call me on my cell phone about work. Just getting out there and rubbing handle bars … just getting back to the basics; almost like being a kid again.”
And it’s the third rider, the Presbyterian minister affectionately known as the “Whiskey Priest,” who offers big-picture perspective to the adventure. An accomplished rider and experienced world traveler, James Johnson was born and raised in the Bahamas and has been riding motorcycles since he was nine (he went to traffic court when he was 11 for doing 60 mph on a sidewalk).
“One of the best things about having traveled as much as I have, is you learn to put away certain expectations and just be open to the ride,” Johnson said. “The more I do that, the more I actually see new things, experience new things – and I always find that when you travel in a group like this, Dr. Laura or Neale or Troy are going to experience things that I wouldn’t see without being with them. It’s this shared experience of being together that just expands your horizons and your own experience. So, I’m trying to go into it as open-minded as possible – whatever comes. There is a fairly specific timeline and certain things we are trying to do, but just trying to be ready for it and suck the marrow out of life.”