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It was a sunny day as Cheryl O'Connell rode her 2009 Harley-Davidson Road King, listening to "Dust In The Wind," while crossing the Texas border on Route 66. In that moment, the realization hit her: she was experiencing something truly remarkable. O'Connell, along with her friends Bonnie Antoniuk and Sheryl Deveaux, both in their 50s, are currently on an epic adventure, traveling over 18,000 km across the continent and back.
The trio, who set off from Saint John on May 20, recently arrived in western Canada after a scenic journey up the Pacific Coast Highway from Santa Monica, California, which marked the western end of Route 66. They anticipate spending another two weeks before reaching their home in New Brunswick.
These three companions share a love for motorcycles, which brought them together. Antoniuk and O'Connell have been riding for about 15 years, while Deveaux joined the world of motorcycles six years ago. Deveaux is retired from the military, Antoniuk is also retired, and O'Connell works at Irving Oil.
O'Connell's fascination with Route 66 inspired the idea for this journey. She was drawn to its iconic status and the challenge it posed. Antoniuk and Deveaux eagerly embraced the opportunity to join this adventure and discover new sights.
Antoniuk said, "Life is short. If you have a dream, don't wait. We only get one chance... and something bad can happen at home while sitting in a recliner." Deveaux echoed her sentiments, emphasizing the importance of seizing each moment and finding joy in life.
Motorcycling offers a unique and immersive experience, according to Antoniuk, who rides a 2013 Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe. She describes the sensation of feeling the temperature, smelling various scents, and experiencing the wind firsthand. "It's such an empowering feeling of freedom. You feel like you're part of the environment as you ride through it," she added.
For Deveaux, biking provides therapeutic benefits. She compares a two-hour ride to having six therapy sessions, as it allows her to release stress and find inner peace. "You're focused on the road, the scenery... It brings me such peace," she expressed.
The journey thus far has been filled with memorable moments, including awe-inspiring views of the Grand Canyon and visits to quaint, nostalgic towns. Deveaux admitted feeling like she was in a movie during these experiences. Antoniuk faced some nerve-wracking situations navigating heavy traffic in major cities, requiring her to stay focused and keep up with her companions without a navigation system of her own.
The Pacific Coast presented a significant challenge for Deveaux due to strong winds that would toss her around like a ragdoll. O'Connell recalls a particularly intense moment when they encountered a sudden temperature drop while entering Los Angeles. Despite these physical challenges, the mental aspect has proven even more demanding. They must remain alert and focused on their surroundings to ensure their safety while admiring the breathtaking landscapes they pass, such as vineyards and redwood forests.
Throughout their journey, the women have received tremendous respect and encouragement from the people they've encountered. Seniors have expressed envy, confessing that they've always wanted to embark on a similar adventure. Young girls have marveled at their bravery, deeming it the coolest thing they've ever seen. Some men have even admitted, "Wow, I'd never do that." The women have surpassed their own expectations, discovering their resilience and capabilities along the way.
Antoniuk, who battles chronic heart disease and has survived two cardiac arrests, was amazed by her stamina and riding abilities, especially in navigating bustling cities. Deveaux had initial doubts about her physical endurance but has taken each day as it comes. The support and encouragement from their fellow riders have helped them persevere. This week, Deveaux fulfilled a deeply meaningful personal milestone by spreading some of her late brother's ashes at a cape along the Pacific coast, a place he had visited shortly before his passing nine years ago.
As the journey continues, O'Connell eagerly anticipates the highlight of her trip, a visit with her grandchildren once they reach Alberta. The bond and support among these three women remain strong as they lift each other up and press onward. They know that the best is yet to come on this extraordinary motorcycle adventure.
#Harley #Chopper #HD #Journey