Daniel PalazzoloBy Collin Kelley

Atlanta resident Daniel Palazzolo plans to ride his motorcycle to help raise funds for the Susan G. Komen Foundation to fight breast cancer.

Sounds easy, right?

Then consider that Palazzolo will be riding his bike a grueling 12,000 miles roundtrip from Atlanta to the Arctic Ocean over a 25-day stretch. There will be lonely hours on the road, camping in remote places and extreme weather conditions.

Palazzolo, 29, is taking this journey in honor of his sister, Kris, who is undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. His goal is to raise $5,000 for Komen before he departs on July 25.

“This is the first time I’ve done anything with a charity,” he said, “but I wanted to do something to help inspire Kris and keep up her morale.”

An Atlanta native and graduate of Druid Hills High School, Palazzolo is no stranger to the wilderness since he is a firefighter for the National Forest Service. That training will be an asset in the remote areas of the US, Canada and Alaska, but riding a motorcycle for 25 days is not something you can really prepare yourself for, he said.

“The furthest I’ve ridden on the bike is to Charleston, South Carolina,” he laughed, “but I like a challenge.”

Of course, the motorcycle Palazzolo will be driving is not the typical kind you see whizzing the Downtown Connector. The 700-pound, 2006 BMW 1200GS will have a custom-made saddle and is fitted with compartments to hold camping gear supplies and more.

The route Palazzolo will take includes Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and Montana, before crossing into Alberta, Canada. From there he will drive through parts of British Columbian, the Yukon and finally into Alaska.

The final destination on his route map is Prudhoe Bay, which faces the Beaufort Sea on the Arctic Ocean. It’s the final miles that Palazzolo said would be the most challenging.

“I’ll be on dirt roads for four days to get to Prudhoe Bay,” he said. “I have to change tires in Alaska to make that part of the trip.”

He won’t be completely alone for part of the trip, since his older brother plans to bike with him for some of the northwestern legs.

Palazzolo said Blue Moon Cycle has helped him prepare the bike for the trip, and Peachtree Bikes (where Palazzolo works when he’s not fighting fires) has also helped plan for the trip north.

For those who want to keep up with Palazzolo, he’ll be blogging the entire trip at www.atltothearctic.com and for examiner.com. You can also make a donation for the ride at his website, and it’s a tax-deductible contribution.

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.

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