HAPPY VALLEY-GOOSE BAY, N.L. - The 530 kilometre trek from Happy Valley-Goose Bay to Labrador City on a motorcycle might present a challenge for some, but a group of motorcycle riders showed they have what it takes to complete the journey in one day.
Then they turned around the next day and rode the same road back home on Aug. 7. Their efforts were part of an initiative to raise awareness of mental health.
The Labradorian spoke to the organizer minutes after they completed the run and he said it went great.
“There was a little bit of rain but not much at all, thank God, because last year it rained the entire time,” said Kenton Martin. “We had warm temperatures and beautiful weather for the most part this year, it went excellent.”
This is the second year for the Moving Forward ride. Martin said the response was overwhelming.
“There were a lot of people here to see us of,” he said. “It was really inspiring.”
Martin said 11 riders did the full run, but about 30 bikes did the run as far as the Lookout on the highway with them.
“It was probably the largest gathering of motorcycles that ever took place in Goose Bay,” he said. “I really can’t thank them enough. I hope it just continues to grow.”
Martin said the ride came about when he had a friend take his own life in 2016.
“He messaged me just before he did it and said ‘Hang in there, buddy.’ I was going through a tough time myself. I knew he was going through a tough time as well but I thought he was referring to me,” he recalled. “I said ‘I’m trying’ and I was having a really hard day myself that day, as bad as you could imagine. I got the call about 20 minutes later, that after he messaged me he had taken his life.”
Martin said it made him want to do something, to continue on, and not just continue on, but do something. He said the idea of a ride drawing awareness to mental health came to him. His friend was always after him to take a trip to Labrador City on their motorcycles, so that’s what he did.
He hopes it can draw attention to the fact that a lot of people feel this way sometimes. One of the main riders from last year took his own life a few weeks ago as well, Martin said.
“That made it a little tougher, a little harder, but at the same time it got everyone a little more involved,” he said. “His family is here, they want to get more involved with it. It’s great support but under such terrible circumstances.”
Martin hopes they get even more people next year and he’ll continue to do this run as long as he can still get on a bike.