Phil Comar, Cincinnati Enquirer
By: Sara Gadzala, Cincinnati Enquirer
Phil Comar's mission is to break his own world record, and he hopes to do so handily well, actually no hand-ily.
Known as No Hand Man, Comar is determined to ride his Harley-Davidson nonstop from the Mackinac Bridge in Michigan to Covington on Sunday without putting his hands on the bike.
The trek is 525 miles, and he hopes to raise $25,000 for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.
For more than 50 years, Comar, 63, has been an avid motorcyclist. For the last 20, he has been perfecting no-handed riding, which was the subject of many discussions with his father, Robert, who died of Parkinson's disease in 2008. The ride is in his honor.
Comar who is a motorcycle safety teacher for the state of Michigan joked with the Cincinnati Enquirer that it's "Do not as I do, only as I say."
He said he's never had an accident while riding no-handed. "This is not something you just jump on a bike and do capably. I'm the only one who does this."
In 2010, Comar rode no-handed from the Mackinac Bridge to the Michigan-Ohio border, setting a world record with 314 miles under his belt. Last year, he broke his previous record, riding 327 miles no-handed. He attempted to go farther but had to use his hands to avoid a collision.
His choice of Covington as a destination will take him across the Ohio border .
"I think this cause that he's riding for is really awesome," said friend Patricia Carney. "He's really put his heart and soul into this ride."
"I know a lot of people think it's very dangerous. A lot of people don't approve, but he handles himself very well," Carney said. "He handles the bike with his body movements, and he's very safety-minded."
Comar teaches motorcycle safety and administers motorcycle endorsement testing for the state of Michigan at Schoolcraft College in Michigan.
"I don't have my hands tied behind my back, and I can reach my controls if I have to," Comar said. "The handle grips actually only provide the braking and the clutching, so I still have a back brake I can use in conjunction with the handle grips."
Comar has had his bike modified to hold an 11-gallon gas tank, allowing him to complete the 525-mile journey non-stop. This year more than 50 other riders will accompany Comar on various legs of the journey, including a motorcycle police escort from the Lucas County Sheriff's office through parts of Ohio.
To qualify to be a Guinness world record, the entire highway must be shut down, but Guinness officials Comar spoke with in London say it would stand as a record nonetheless.
Comar said he plans to leave from the bridge in Michigan at around 7:30 a.m. Sunday and wants to make it to Covington by about 3:30 p.m. His troupe will assemble at the Radisson Hotel Cincinnati Riverfront.
The spokesperson for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Department of Highways for District Six in Covington said her office has no official comment on Comar's endeavor.
Comar said he won't rule out making it an annual event.
"Years ago I told someone I could make it from the Mackinac Bridge all the way to Florida. I'll leave that one alone, but it's always in the back of my mind," Comar said, noting he could still make the trip nonstop. "Jet fighters refuel in mid-air all the time."