Riding around the world for cancer awareness.
A couple weeks ago, I rode for four hours in 100-degree heat. I woke up the next day, in my air-conditioned house on my pillow-top mattress, sore as hell. I bitched about it for days. I’m still bitching. And then I talked to someone like Todd Spurrier.
In the last two years, Todd’s logged just under 50,000 miles on a fully-loaded Ducati Multistrada in sweltering heat, pouring rain, snow, hurricanes, bugs, traffic…and he sleeps on the ground. One of his kidneys is shot, and he doesn’t have a colon. Thanks to numerous surgeries because of multiple conditions, he’s prone to bloody infections and life-threatening obstructions that couldn’t give a rat’s ass if he’s alone on a motorcycle in the middle of nowhere or basking in an inner-city ICU. And he can’t wait to get going. He needs to. This isn’t your typical cross-country motorcycle tour; this is the Destination X Ride.
With the generous support of Ducati USA, funding from his mother and individual donations, Todd rides across the USA making pit-stops at motorcycle industry events, fundraisers, even Capitol Hill to raise awareness for colorectal cancer research, prevention, and detection. And, to increase awareness of what he calls “these bullshit rare diseases”, that are so closely linked to colorectal cancer, like the ones that took his father’s life at age 32, and Todd’s colon a week after graduating from high school: Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP) and desmoid tumors. I had the chance to talk to Todd a couple weeks ago, while grounded by a recent surgery.
HM: How did the Destination X Ride come about?
TS: I’ve always felt more alive living on the edge than living on a clock. Before I started the ride, it seemed like my health was controlling everything and there was just no end in sight…just one crappy medical setback after another. I was in a pretty dark place. I wanted to do something to help someone, even one person, avoid having to unnecessarily go through what my dad went through because of colon cancer, so I came up with the idea to just ride across the country and talk to people. I realized it was something I had to do, or I just wasn’t going to make it. My first bike was a 2001 Ducati Monster 900, so I was looking maybe for an old Monster I could fix up or something. Someone connected me with the right people at Ducati USA, and they totally supported me. The first year, they provided me with a 2011 Multistrada 1200S Touring, and the second year, they special-ordered a 2013 Multistrada 1200 S Granturismo from the factory specifically for my ride. They also took care of maintenance at any factory-authorized shops throughout the US, and I want to point out how welcome the dealers made me feel, no matter where I was. Some of them took me into their homes and fed me…they were just amazing, really good people.
HM: Is this a charity ride? I mean, is the Destination X Ride a fundraiser?
TS: No, not currently. It’s an awareness thing for now. I do however, direct people to non-profit organizations if they’d like to donate to research. In 2013, I partnered with three national organizations that put on organized run/walk fundraisers, so my ride intersects at those events. I meet and photograph survivors for my new project, “500 Under 50 Before 50”…I want to photograph 500 colorectal cancer survivors who are under the age of 50 before I turn 50.
HM: How old are you?
TS: I’m 47.
A survivor of colon cancer with Todd Spurrier along his route.
HM: And how many survivors have you photographed so far?
TS: You know, I get to meet these people and hear their stories…and then I have like five minutes to take their picture. I wish I had hours… I think I have just over 50 on the website and have shot 75-80 portraits so far.
HM: The Destination X Ride has you riding across the United States for months. How do you pay your bills?
TS: (deep breath)…well, I’m a graphic designer by trade; I do some freelance work when I can.
HM: Do donations help with that?
TS: No; 100% of whatever money is donated through my website is spent on the ride. And I live pretty cheap…I sleep under the stars whenever I can.
HM: Ok, let’s talk about medical stuff. You don’t have a colon. Seeing as how the main function of the colon is to absorb water and form…you know…
HM:…yeah…so that must mean…
TS: …liquid waste.
HM:…right…and without the rest of the apparatus to…you know…let you know when…ok, how does that work on a motorcycle?
TS: Oh, I just don’t eat that much. I tend to run on fumes when I’m on the road.
TS: (laughing) Yeah, I just. Don’t eat. Food is a necessary evil for me. I mean, I eat it to stay alive. If I know I need to get from point A to point B in a certain amount of time, I just don’t put fuel in the tank, you know?
HM: So, no garbage in, no garbage out, is that it?
HM: That is messed up, Todd.
TS: Yep. That’s life on the road for this sans colon rider.
HM: Ever have any big setbacks? Not colon-related, I mean.
TS: Well, there was that flat tire in the middle of nowhere in Idaho that set me back for a few days…
HM: When does this year’s ride start?
TS: As soon as possible. I’m healing up from surgery on one of my ureters right now, and I want to do what my surgeon says because she wasn’t sure if she’d be able to save my kidney. But I’ve got to get going. Ducati USA committed to two years of support, and that’s done, so I need to find a bike!
HM: When will you arrive at your destination?
TS: When I have 500 photographs of 50 survivors under the age of 50, sometime before March 6th, 2017, when I turn 50.
For more information about Todd Spurrier, The Destination X Ride, the FaceiT and 500 Under 50 Before 50 projects and how you can help support them, or, for information about colorectal cancer and screening, visit Todd’s website at www.destinationxride.org
You can also follow Todd through his various social media channels.