When Phil Brehmer rolled out of Columbus on his Harley-Davidson Street Glide on Saturday, May 31, he had no plans to return.
For the next 3 ??? months, he estimates he will ride his Harley about 15,000 miles while raising awareness and money for his cause, Quest for the Cure, and discovering where he will spend the rest of his life.
"Somewhere along the way, I'll find a place where I want to stay and hang my hat," said Brehmer, 54, who came to central Ohio three years ago to take care of his mother. She died in January from a multitude of health ailments, including diabetes.
His late father also had diabetes, and in 2004, Brehmer was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. He controls the disease with medication and exercise.
After his mother died, and after reflecting on his father's life, Brehmer said he began planning his cross-country trip.
"I just left the best-paying job I ever had (in automotive sales)," he said. "I'm divorced, don't have any kids, and just felt now was the time to do this.
"My parents were always open about their mortality ... and my mother and I talked about this trip."
Brehmer recently resided with family and friends near Hilliard and Upper Arlington while laying the groundwork for his cross-country excursion.
"I have a semi-structured plan," said Brehmer, but he is certainly open to whimsical detours.
He plans to begin his trip at 10 a.m. May 31, departing from a kickoff at A.D. Farrow Co. Harley-Davidson, 491 W. Broad St.
He will ride to Maine and then south to Florida, back north to Green Bay, Wis., and then west to Sturgis, S.D.
For those not familiar with the lore of Harley-Davidson culture, Sturgis -- an otherwise tranquil town of about 7,000 people in western South Dakota -- is home each August to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, a weeklong showcase of motorcycles attended by more than 400,000 bikers.
Brehmer will continue west to Seattle and then back across the full length of the United States to Washington, D.C., seat of the national headquarters of the American Diabetes Association.
Along the way, Brehmer estimates he will revisit about 36 states. He has already traveled to all 50 and to more than two dozen foreign countries, some of it made possible by his father, who was a chemical engineer.
A native of Pennsylvania, Brehmer has worked in the oil fields, held a real-estate license, bartended and worked in auto sales. His stint as the owner of a truck stop sparked a passion for cooking and in 1992, he started a catering business, later becoming a chef at restaurants in New England until 2007.
"I cherish the journey that led me here and now is the time to raise awareness and support for a disease that both my parents suffered with for years and both died from," Brehmer said.
Several restaurants and venues planned benefits May 27-29 to help fund Brehmer's trip. He estimates fuel expenses for his ride, which gets about 40 to 45 miles a gallon, will be about $1,500.
He will also need two oil changes and at least one tire change along the way.
The American Motorcycle Association and AARP have arranged for him to receive discounts for lodging. He said he plans to camp for parts of the trip and also will stay with others along the way, arranged in advance through social media.
"I'll be blogging all along the way," he said. "I think I'm a pretty good photographer and a creative writer, too."
Brehmer plans to chronicle the trip on his website, ourquestforthecure.com, where viewers can also show support, make donations or host.
Brehmer will have "Quest" merchandise for sale and will be able to process electronic purchases and donations on the trip.
Brehmer will also maintain a Facebook page, "Our Quest for the Cure," and a Twitter account, @QuestForCure.