More MS news articles for May 2002

Getting back on the open road

Woman with MS rides motorcycle for first time in years

Sunday, May 12, 2002
Katherine Tam

Yuba City resident Lori Maskell loves Harleys. She stopped riding when multiple sclerosis, a progressive neurological disease, got the better of her. But, she longed to ride again.

On Saturday, that wish came true. With the help of a conspiring friend and members of the local Gold Wing Touring Association, Maskell took an hourlong spin around the Sutter Buttes in the sidecar of a motorcycle.

The string of 16 motorcycles wound their way along Pass Road under the hot sun and warm breeze, a smile on Maskell's face as she rode alongside driver Lupe Sanchez.

"It's the speed, the freedom, the blowing in the wind," Maskell said of her love of motorcycles. "I've loved them since I was a little girl."

It all started a few weeks ago when Yuba City resident Susie Frost, who has known Maskell since high school, asked colleague Tammi Ross how much it would cost to put a sidecar on her motorcycle. Frost works with the Sutter County Drug Court, Ross with the Sutter-Yuba Mental Health Drug and Alcohol Program.

"She told me about Lori and that her life dream was to ride a Harley," said Ross, who had never met Maskell before Saturday. "She was hoping maybe I could help her out. ... My dream came true when I met the man I'm with, I just thought it was time to share with somebody else making their dreams come true."

And so the calls to local motorcycle shops and groups began, but without success. Ross then turned to the Internet, where her search turned up the Marysville chapter of the Gold Wing Touring Association.

She called its director, Al Mazon, who was eager to help. Sanchez volunteered his sidecar for the occasion.

At about 10 a.m. Saturday, Frost, Ross and the members of the Gold Wing club assembled outside Maskell's home and helped her from her wheelchair into the sidecar.

"I'm excited," Maskell said. "I haven't been on one for six or seven years."

She didn't mind that the motorcycle and sidecar weren't Harley Davidson, saying she enjoyed Gold Wings as well.

Maskell, who turned 46 this past Wednesday, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1989. The disease meant giving up the nursing profession at Rideout Memorial Hospital.

She spends her time in volunteer work, and is the ambassador for the Yuba-Sutter multiple sclerosis efforts. She assisted in the MS Walk last month in Yuba City.

The Gold Wing Touring Association formed in 1987. Mazon said the group has participated in other community activities, including toy runs, the Brain Tumor Fund for Children in San Francisco and, most recently, the Cinco de Mayo celebration in Gridley.