Jim Best of Lower Sackville, N.S., is getting ready for perhaps the most challenging motorcycle ride of his life — a trip from Halifax to Vancouver all while he struggles to breathe.
The 34-year-old is doing it tor raise money for cystic fibrosis research. He's lived with the genetic disease all his life.
Cystic fibrosis causes a sticky mucus to build up in the lungs, clogging them and leading to life-threatening infections. It also clogs the pancreas so the body can't properly digest food.
The lung damage has made riding difficult for Best. He'll have to monitor his breathing throughout the trip.
"My lung function currently is about 42 per cent of what an average person of my age would be," Best said. "I wear a specialized mask under my helmet so that any debris or exhaust coming up off the road doesn't get into my breathing."
The severity of cystic fibrosis differs from person to person, but it eventually leads to death for the majority of people with the disease. About 4,100 people in Canada have cystic fibrosis, and they're living to a median age of 50.9 years.
3rd fundraising ride
This will be the third time Best has planned a long trip to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis Canada, the not-for-profit corporation seeking a cure for CF.
"This is one that I have really wanted to do," said Best. "All of the stars kind of had to align, just having the time off and the health to be able to do it."
Best is planning to leave Halifax on June 26. He said it will take him three weeks to drive his 1999 Yamaha YZF600R sport touring bike to Vancouver.
In 2014, Best rented a Harley Davidson out of Boston, drove four weeks to San Francisco and raised $10,000 for Cystic Fibrosis Canada. In 2015, he went on another long ride, around the country of Ireland, a 12-day trip that raised another $2,000.
"Ireland has the highest per capita number of patients with cystic fibrosis in the world," said Best, a pharmacist who grew up in the Annapolis Valley, "They're really leaders in advocacy and treatment."
Final marathon ride
Best said because of his health his upcoming ride will likely be his last marathon trip.
He wanted to do his Canadian journey last year but his health held him back.
"Last year, my lung function was a little bit lower and I was a little bit weaker and I just knew it was a recipe for trouble if I did it," said Best.
"I think ... the hardest part with cystic fibrosis is as you get a little bit older it kind of resets what your limits are, and being able to accept them."
Best says he's hoping to raise $10,000.
You can learn more about his upcoming trip here.